Will my 'first world problem' add to their devastating problem?

My fourth charger for my four year old Apple Mac arrived yesterday…

Photographer Kevin McElvaney, taken from  Guardian images . I have been give permission.  ‘Discarders of electronic goods expect them to be recycled properly. But almost all such devices contain toxic chemicals which, even if they are recyclable, make it expensive to do so. As a result, illegal dumping has become a lucrative business.   Photographer Kevin McElvaney documents Agbogbloshie, a former wetland in Accra, Ghana, which is home to the world’s largest e-waste dumping site. Boys and young men smash devices to get to the metals, especially copper. Injuries, such as burns, untreated wounds, eye damage, lung and back problems, go hand in hand with chronic nausea, anorexia, debilitating headaches and respiratory problems. Most workers die from cancer in their 20s’ Text taken from  Guardian images.

Photographer Kevin McElvaney, taken from Guardian images. I have been give permission.

‘Discarders of electronic goods expect them to be recycled properly. But almost all such devices contain toxic chemicals which, even if they are recyclable, make it expensive to do so. As a result, illegal dumping has become a lucrative business.

Photographer Kevin McElvaney documents Agbogbloshie, a former wetland in Accra, Ghana, which is home to the world’s largest e-waste dumping site. Boys and young men smash devices to get to the metals, especially copper. Injuries, such as burns, untreated wounds, eye damage, lung and back problems, go hand in hand with chronic nausea, anorexia, debilitating headaches and respiratory problems. Most workers die from cancer in their 20s’ Text taken from Guardian images.

‘First world problem’

Old meets new.

Old meets new.

Yesterday, I received my fourth charger for my four year old Mac book, ordered directly from Apple. To be fair to them, my last charger was not Apple branded and only lasted four months before it ceased to light up. However, both Apple branded ones stopped working after a little more than a year, conveniently just out of the one year warranty. It was no surprise to see on the Mac website the charger gets a 1* star review (247 awful ones). The first died after it hissed and spluttered after a miniature explosion, and the second surreptitiously perished leaving no clue as to the cause of it’s departure from the ‘living’ world. And yes it was a costly inconvenience to me (£79) and I had to live without my laptop for 24 hours. Will the ‘inconvenience’ stop with me? As I look at my new bright white and firm life support, I’m wondering what the destiny will be of these weathered ‘dead’ cables?

‘Worldwide, discarded electronics account for an average 35 million tons of trash per year.Such a mass of discards has been compared to an equivalent disposal of 1,000 elephants every hour.’

-‘Digital Rubbish: A natural history of electronics Jennifer Gabrys

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Informative articles

60-90% of OUR electronic waste ends up on illegal dumpsites in the developing world. If you are interested in knowing where your electronic waste might end up have a read of these. I post articles on Twitter too.

Rotten eggs: e-waste from Europe poisons Ghana's food chain 24th April 2019

Where Do 50 Million Tonnes a Year of Toxic E-Waste Go? 27th September 2017

Our thirst for new gadgets has created a vast empire of electronic waste 10th February 2016

Feeling a bit down in the dumps about those statistics?

All the packaging. Set against synthetic looking grass. I have to remind myself that everything we have and consumer comes from the earth.

All the packaging. Set against synthetic looking grass. I have to remind myself that everything we have and consumer comes from the earth.

So I realise this and some of my art work around e-waste can leave people questioning ‘ If 60-90% of EU e-waste ends up on illegal dumpsites how can I ensure mine don’t?’ Yup, that is where I am at too! I certainly feel I’m very much entangled in the system of needing a brand new charger every time one breaks. I don’t deny I am a consumer shackled to Apple’s short life products, at the mercy of their products. But I don’t want my blog posts to be all doom and gloom, so I will be posting up good things that people and companies are doing to tackle e-waste whether it be recycling or fixing. I’d like these blog-posts to be an honest journey- I don’t have the answers… yet!

I’m here to learn, so any up-to-date information you may have please do email me! Thank you!

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