“Every choice a Bahá’í makes … leaves a trace, and the moral duty to lead a coherent life demands that one’s economic decisions be in accordance with lofty ideals, that the purity of one’s aims be matched by the purity of one’s actions to fulfil those aims.”—Universal House of Justice, 1 March 2017
March 2020, Christine Muller
As we saw last month, the environmental and social costs of electronics in their production phase are huge. This month we look at what happens to them at the end of their life. Electronics are often irresponsibly discarded in the trash and the toxic chemicals poison our water and food supply for decades to come. Televisions and computer monitors account for nearly one half of all e-waste in the US, yet only 17% of televisions are recycled in a safe manner.
So what can we do? If a device is broken, it is crucial to dispose of it properly. Finding a place that up-cycles electronics is the best, because they repair them and sell them for a second use. If that is not possible, it is imperative not to throw any electronics into the garbage. Bring your broken cell phones, computers, TVs etc. to an e-waste collection or recycling place.
If you have to buy a new electronic device, you can look for a product that is designed for upgrade, reuse, and recycling. “Extended producer responsibility” implies that producers take responsibility for the whole life-cycle of products. This last option though may still be very hard to find.