E-waste: A Problem That Just Keeps Getting Bigger

Moore’s Law is a technological law that states the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years and the cost of computers is halved. In layman’s terms, this means that technology exponentially improves to the point where consumers need to buy new technology every 2-4 years. 

While technological advancements are made for the betterment of everyday life, the consequences may be less than ideal. 

If technology is advancing so fast that we must replace our phones and computers regularly, what happens to the devices we don’t need anymore?

E-waste is becoming a bigger problem as the advancement of technology speeds up even more than its quick two year turnaround currently. According to news.metal.com, the materials used to make computers and phones take hundreds or even thousands of years to decompose. 

Thin plastics like grocery bags can take up to 20-1000 years to break down. If it takes thin plastic so long to break down, imagine how long it takes the thicker plastic of a mouse or the frame of a computer to break down. Now imagine how long it would take for metals like aluminum and steel used in laptop shells and screws to break down.

Because the elements in our technology take so long to break down, many have come to the conclusion that e-waste is more likely to pollute the environment than to biodegrade safely.

Our technology also features some toxins that can affect human health, such as lead, lithium, mercury, and cadmium. When dumped into landfills, these toxins can make their way into groundwater or, if burned, into the air where they can harm our reproductive and nervous systems.

So how can we stop e-waste from harming us?

Legislation is starting to be passed in some places banning e-waste in landfills, but there are plenty ways that the average person can make an impact.

First, use devices for as long as possible. That iPhone 11 may look tempting, but the truth is your iPhone 8 probably still has at least another year and a half of life left in it. It’s just as the old saying goes- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

If your device is broken, try to get it fixed. There are many places that can fix broken screens, hardware and software issues, and other troubles you may come across with your device. It’s probably cheaper than buying a brand new device too.

If you can’t resist that iPhone 11, try selling your old phone or device on an auction site like eBay. If you don’t have a use for it, you may as well give it to someone who does, and you can even make a few bucks doing so!

If you can’t sell your device or it refuses to work, don’t throw it out. Research e-waste recycling events in your area. Recycling e-waste not only prevents the waste from making its way into landfills, it also allows some of the materials used in our laptops and phones to be reused in new devices. 

E-waste is an increasing problem we are bound to face as technology continues to march forward, but with these tips, every consumer can help reduce the impact our devices have in landfills.


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