Why Recycling Your Technology Is Better For The Planet
The evolution of technology is growing at such an exponential rate it could make your head spin. It’s easy to get excited by new technology because we’ve already seen what it can do for us. What’s more, the greater our understanding about technology, the more we appreciate its value.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that our equipment and devices appear to get better every year.
A Popular Technology: Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are an example of an ever-evolving technology that provides enormous benefits. These mini-computers in your pocket can enable you to do almost anything when you leave home.
- Lost on your trip to a new address? Look up the address using a GPS map on your phone.
- Not sure how much you have in your bank account when you’re on a shopping spree? Look up your account balance on your phone.
- Undecided about where to go for dinner with your date or spouse? Look up restaurant reviews on your phone.
Manufacturers are routinely upgrading technology, bringing in newer features that make the new device even better. Each new model promises more safety features, offers better visibility, and has thrilling new tweaks in functionality.
Fortunately, what is older, outdated mobile technology for you might be just what someone else wants. If you’re an early adopter, then a later adopter wants what you enjoyed. Maybe you have a phone made of gold, maybe not, but it’s still worth something. This means that you can sell it to a company like ItsWorthMore.com. This, of course, is a much better solution than adding yet another item to your junk drawer (or closet).
Asking Questions to Raise Awareness
However, despite the overwhelming benefits that technology offers us, we also have to restrain our enthusiasm for the rapid rate of technological growth. While technology is making our lives easier, we still have to pause to question the effects technology is having on our world.
Can Technology Harm the Environment?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Many everyday technologies consume a considerable amount of power. Manufacturing them can create copious waste products. Improperly disposing of them can cause environmental damage.
Before discussing how we can overcome these problems, let’s take a closer look at some common problems.
- Using technology can cause pollution because it can create heat, noise, and toxic waste products. Improperly disposed of high tech can pollute air, land, and water.
- Manufacturing technology can consume non-renewable resources. Some technology uses high conducting precious metals like gold and silver. Other technology requires the use of fossil fuels to generate the electricity to run the factory that makes the technology.
- Disposing of technology can create a tremendous amount of waste that won’t easily decompose. For instance, it’s estimated that a single laser ink cartridge can take as long as 450 years to completely decompose.
- Technology can disrupt natural habitats. Building factories on available land often results in clearing land that has a natural habitat. Technology can disrupt the ecological balance of nature by affecting local flora and fauna.
- Toxic material in technology can leak out and cause health hazards. Technotrash is created when technology breaks down or becomes outdated. Landfills may have equipment with heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium. As these rust, the heavy metals can soak through the ground into underground water. Since this water may be part of a drinking supply, it can affect the animals or humans who drink the water.
- Carbon emissions are released from cars, airplanes, and factories. This can cause all the atmospheric problems associated with greenhouse gases.
What’s A Viable Solution?
Two of the greatest contribution to a viable solution is awareness and newer technology. Let’s take a look at both ways.
- Awareness. Many of the problems that create pollution can be prevented through a change in human behavior. For instance, pollution can be reduced by not building factories in places that harm the ecosystem. Another example is disposing of older technology in a safer, more efficient way by recycling components instead of just throwing everything into a dumpster.
- New technology. An improvement in technology itself is reducing pollution. For instance, wide scale logging for manufacturing paper products is becoming less necessary as we change to a paperless society by using digital media to reduce our reliance on newspapers, books, and other paper products used to communicate ideas.
According to an article in Pollution Issues: “Technology is always advancing and improving. Many new technologies are naturally more energy efficient and less polluting than the ones they replace. Sometimes, this is because they were designed with environmental improvement in mind. Usually, however, it is simply the result of using newer and better materials and components. Therefore, pollution-preventing technologies can be found in every area of a product’s life cycle.”
We Are the Solution
While an argument can be made that technology is worse for us than we thought and that maybe we should discontinue it and save the environment, there is much reason for hope. As humans, we have always found some way of polluting the environment long before the industrial revolution. Technology is our latest negative contribution. Fortunately, while our species has a knack for messing things up, we also have enough intelligence to figure out the importance of cleaning things up, too.