E-Waste, Tech’s Big Dirty Secret And What You Can Do About it?

When you use a smartphone, do you think that many rare metals of the earth are required to make it, and mining them contributes to the carbon footprint of the device? Similarly, when you use a computer or a CRT monitor, do you ever think that 48 pounds of chemicals, 1.5 tons of water, and 530 pounds of water were used to produce the same. No? Well, it’s time you learn about e-waste, tech’s big secret, and how you can help reduce it.

The Rise of E-Waste

Electronic waste or e-waste refers to any discarded device which can be plugged into an outlet or uses batteries. In 2019, we produced 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste, and just 17.4 of it was documented as collected and recycled. WHO predicts that e-waste generation might reach 74.7 million tonnes by 2030.

Canada generated about 638,300 tonnes of e-waste in 2017. This number is expected to rise significantly in the next few years unless we do something about it.

The Reasons

There are many reasons why e-waste is rising. Some of them are rapid adoption of new technology and discarding the old, software support obsolescence, poor repairability, and battery degradation.

How Does E-Waste Damage the Environment?

E-waste is a big problem when waste disposal is not done properly. There is often an illegal export of e-waste to ineffectively managed landfills in developing nations. It endangers the environment and impacts the citizens (health risks) of the developing countries. Developing countries agree to the exports as they hope to find rare metals.

How Can You Help?

> You can help reduce the e-waste by adopting some or all of the following strategies.

> You can demand that your government representatives take stronger actions to control and properly dispose of e-waste.

> When purchasing new gadgets, ask yourself whether you want them or need them.

> Take care of your devices so that they last longer.

> When buying, seek companies/products with environmentally-focused certifications like Energy Star that promote sustainability.

> Donate used electronics to those in need.

Reuse large electronics.

> Drop off the unwanted electronics at local recycling centers.

Remember to Remove All of Your Data

When disposing of the e-waste, you need to remember to protect your privacy by removing all data from your device. You don’t need to be a tech expert to delete the data. You can easily do it yourself. If you own an iOS or Android tablet or smartphone, you can safely perform a factory reset to delete all data. Go to the settings section and search for the factory reset option. It will hardly take a few minutes.

Removing your SIM card from the phone or tablet is also smart. Also, remove any microSD card you might have added to the device.

When disposing of desktops or laptops, you can use any free downloadable software to erase your hard drive. It is also known as “shredding” a drive. You can try free tools such as CBL Data Shredder and Eraser, which are quite effective.





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