Technology is great. We use it 24/7. We use it to run entire industries. But technology grows quickly, it changes and evolves much faster than we do. This week in our discussion of consumerism, we will begin by looking at consumer electronics. From your desktop computer at home, your curved TV and your mobile phone – all of these contribute towards consumer electronics. In 2013 the consumer electronics industry generated more than $1 trillion USD. This number will only continue to grow as society’s profitable relationship with consumerism grows.
As I have discussed before on the blog posts, consumerism is a tricky battle. It is a large grey area because it is so profitable, it creates so many jobs and it brings us joy (even if it is temporary). So many traditions are built to cater for consumerism – giving presents, Christmas decorations, baby showers and more. Consumerism has been a way for us to translate the intangible emotions we feel on a day to day basis into a material representation. Love your significant other? Buy them flowers. Proud of your graduation? Buy a new car.
As discussed on Curb The Splurge previously, the battle against consumerism comes from creating ethical and sustainable options. With the consumer electronics industry churning out new mobile phones with the latest and greatest in technology, with wearable smart watches on the rise, it is no surprise that we generate up to 50 million tonnes of e-waste worldwide. First world nations dump them into backyards of the less developed, with China receiving 70% of all e-waste. How can we ensure that our electronics are disposed of safety, that the parts inside our old TVs, mobile phones and computers can be found, reused and make into something new?
- Reduce our consumption. Curb the desire for the latest TV and look towards a culture of sustainability and not consumption.
- Recycling – City of Sydney offers e-waste recycling that can prevent it from ending up in landfill. Use this to recycle all electronics goods that you find lying around your house – you might find more than you expect.
- Donate – Non-profit organisations such as Sort Recycling will take old, functioning devices and repurpose them for disadvantaged children and schools. Parts they cannot repurpose can be broken down and used in 3D printers.
Already there are many organisations working towards a sustainability consumer electronics industry. Corporations have been pushing recycling in their products, local and state governments in Australia all have options for recycling electronics and many retail stores have options to reuse and recycle old products. Baby steps, but steps nonetheless. Hopefully one day technology innovates to a stage where our levels of recycling and reducing waste can be much higher than what it is today.
Image by Keoni Cabral via Flickr.