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“We’re preserving our own environment, but contaminating the rest of the world.”

Ever wonder what happens to your electronics when you recycle them? I, like everyone else, thought we were helping the Earth by recycling these products. But in actuality, we’re contributing to a global trade in electronic trash that endangers workers and pollutes the environment overseas. In fact, here is the USA 50 to 80 percent of the 300,000 to 400,000 tons of electronics collected for recycling each year ends up overseas. Workers in countries such as China, India and Nigeria then use hammers, gas burners and their bare hands to extract metals, glass and other recyclables, exposing themselves and the environment to a tons of toxic chemicals. (Note: True, this “cracking open with bare hands” does no happen in ALL countries that import e-waste, but more than zero means there’s a problem.)

Here’s the link to the actual article on E-waste:
Destination of ‘recycled’ electronics may surprise you – CNN.com

And learn how to tell when to pull the plug on your electronics, or just get it repaired:
When Good Electronics Go Bad – Yahoo.com

A mon avis, all electronics should be owned forever by the very companies who manufacture them. When the consumer is finished with the product, they return it to the manufacturer who recycles/reuses the parts. Manufacturers will have to take this into consideration in their design process, thereby saving money and resources for themselves, passing on that savings to their customers, and being responsible, in the long run, for not shipping their “mess” to someone else to fix while their health is in danger.

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I know, this is old news, but since I particepated in the sending of the e-mails, I had to share. And yes, I lied, I personally do not use a Mac, but I figured that I could lie for the world’s benefit:

Green My Apple Bears Fruit

June 01, 2007

This is the story of a “people power victory.” It’s the story of the Greening of Apple.

We launched our campaign to reduce electronic waste in 2004, with the aim to remove the worst toxic substances from electronic products, improve recycling policies, and to catalyze a fundamental change in the way our electronic gadgets are designed, produced, and recycled.

In 2006, we published a ranking guide to put pressure on individual companies to improve policies and practices.

Companies like Dell and Lenovo responded to the pressure, commiting to phase outs of the worst toxic substances from their product ranges, and in the case of Dell, challenging the entire computer industry to adopt a worldwide free take-back policy, as Dell had done.

In late 2006, it became clear that the company which had been least responsive and falling further and further back in the rankings was, surprisingly, Apple.
In considering how we might win improved policies from Apple, we knew one thing for certain: Apple might tune out Greenpeace, but they would never tune out their customers. Apple’s famously loyal fan base was the one force on the planet that was guaranteed to get the attention of Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Apple Fans

So we decided this was to be a very different Greenpeace campaign, one in which we would turn over the reigns to Apple’s customers. We would stand in the shoes of Apple fans, we would speak as fellow believers in the wizards of Cupertino, and we’d try to channel waves of Apple Love at corporate headquarters.

The result was the launch of the Green my Apple website in September 2006, the first words of which were, “We love Apple.”

The site was designed to look like Apple’s own site, with in-jokes that only Apple fans would get, and a single unifying theme:

“We love our Macs. We just wish they came in green.”

It was designed, written and promoted as a place where Apple fans interested in a greener Apple could learn about the call for Apple to be a green leader and, crucially, show their support in many different ways.

If you only had a minute you could email Steve (Just “Steve.” Apple fans are all on a first name basis with Apple’s CEO) and you could recommend the Green my Apple site to social networking services like Digg, Hugg, and del.icio.us with a single click.

If you had more time, you could blog about the campaign, and your blog entry, whether positive or negative, would become part of the content of the site itself due to the magic of Technorati and RSS feeds.

And for those with creative talent there were “ProCreation” challenges for people to create poster and t-shirt designs.

The next challenge

Clearly Steve got the message, so we have archived our Green my Apple website and issued a challenge to all the major computer makers to see who will be the first to match their promises by putting a less toxic computer on the market.

Send your message to ask which company will rise to this challenge.

We’ll continue to monitor company commitments and actions on our Greener Electronics Guide every 3 months to ensure phase out schedules and actions are kept. But we’re also confident that Apple will keep its promise — because it made that promise not to Greenpeace, but to its customers.

Hopefully Steve will make a start by announcing green features of the iPhone when it is launched soon?

Harnessing the power of customers

This campaign was a lesson in people power. It’s not every day that the CEO of a Fortune 500 company responds to a campaign demand on the front page of his website.

Yet over the past few years, we’ve found that campaigns which harness the power of customers are becoming increasingly effective in moving corporate policy toward better green policies. Online activism has turned Coca Cola from a climate-killer to an innovator in refrigeration technologies.* McDonald’s went from a destroyer of the rainforest to the champion of a moratorium on new soy plantations in the Amazon.

As new web tools enable more creative online activism, more social networking, more global campaigns, and more collaboration from audiences made up of customers and consumers, the global online community is becoming an increasingly powerful force for change.

We’re all a part of the “Second Superpower” of public opinion, and the Green my Apple campaign is but one example of how solutions to planetary problems can be won. All it takes, sometimes, is people speaking up.

*[My input]: And with the help of PETA, they no longer perform tests on animals! However, whether the companies that they buy their ingredients from perform tests, has yet to be determined.

Source:

Greenpeace.org