Tech companies have designed events out of launches for updated models of their devices. These have become awaited moments for those who are passionate about technology and those who use the product as a status symbol. Although differences between the older and newer model may be minor, consumers are incentivized to make a purchase. No matter how functional the previous device was, developers find ways to encourage the switch to the latest version by making it seem faster than the older model.
Unfortunately, the incessant disposal of electronic waste (or e-waste) has negative implications on the environment. From the procurement of the raw materials to its production, and at the end of its life cycle, the global effects of the tech industry are exacerbated by this unnecessary habit.
Instead of the constant upgrades, disposing of a device should be the last option. Its lifespan can be maximized instead by taking care of the parts. For example, mobile users can hire a trusted professional adept in Samsung phone repair if they own a device of that brand. There will always be a way to reduce waste for those willing to try.
In general, the goal of consumers should be to limit their purchases to only when necessary. It takes mindful practice and resistance to the temptation of the new device. Companies listen to customers, so once there is a drop in the number of products they need to produce, there should be a reduction in the following adverse effects of frequent technology upgrades:
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Implications in the Mining Industry
Higher demand for electronic goods means mining companies will have to extract more gold and other precious metals. It is rare to find a supplier with sustainable practices, making this kind of demand an issue among those against mining. Since most of the components are made from metals such as copper, tellurium, lithium, and so on, the excessive production of electronic devices will lead to an unhealthy collection of ores.
Furthermore, the process of extraction creates a lot of waste as well. Chemicals are used to separate the metal and the rest of the ore through a process known as leaching. Leaching is another term for solid-liquid extraction. The chemicals in this process will flow through the area where it is being conducted, usually without a proper means of disposal. Although a pollution control officer is generally in charge, local government units must be keen on identifying those businesses that violate guidelines.
When mining is performed unsustainably, it is conducted in excess and without consideration for the environment. Many involve explosions to hasten the process, disrupting the surrounding habitats. To discourage mining companies and signal a reduction in the demand for metals, buying new devices only when necessary is an excellent way to start. Fixing damaged units should be prioritized instead.
Increased Carbon Footprint
Since there are multiple steps in production, the increase in demand leads to a larger carbon footprint as greenhouse gases are emitted throughout the process. Even at the end of the device’s cycle, it releases methane when transformed into landfills. Methane and other greenhouse gases contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. The more gases produced, the larger the carbon footprint, and hence, a worse impact on the environment.
To mitigate this problem, tech companies include an e-waste collection as part of their corporate social responsibility. This seeks a reduction in the carbon footprint by reusing components that are still functioning. Consumers have the opportunity to donate their devices or trade for a new one.
However, exchanging devices for new ones can create more problems since it implies a demand for updated models. This encourages companies to develop other versions that reset the loop of consumerism. A better way to slow down the loop is to hold on to the current devices for as long as possible.
Improper Disposal Leads to Leachates
Aside from methane gas, electronics in dumpsites can release harmful chemicals. The mixture of chemicals and other liquids that result from decomposition is known as leachate. This can seep into the soil, affecting the water quality of surrounding areas. People can become gravely ill if they consume this contaminated water.
Being a responsible consumer does not mean purchasing from companies with corporate social responsibility. It means using less by holding on to and maximizing what you have for as long as you can. If that means getting them fixed or maintained, it is still a lot better for the environment than buying something new. Protecting the environment also means focusing on what you can do for it.