Electronic Gadgets and Impacts
14-Apr-2018


We are all using more and more personal and shared household gadgets regularly in our daily lives than few years or decade before. Personally, we are using smartphones, iPads, laptops, printers, kitchen and household equipment like microwave, coffee/ tea maker, sandwich maker, juice maker, blender, mixer etc. and the list goes much beyond. All these gadgets which have been added to our daily life gradually with time have many significant environmental and social impacts, as these gadgets are being built, used, recharged and ultimately being discarded often, much before its end or useful life, due to minor repairs, absence of spare parts, labours costs or availability of a new model etc.

All these gadgets are operated, used with batteries and require electricity to operate and charge. These gadgets are affecting the environment and we need to see how we can help reduce this impact as well as save money and conserve our electricity bills.

A common dilemma is overcharging of these devices and continued electric connections, by which we keep these devices with electrical connections for hours even after its full charging, which is also consuming electricity and leads to more costs, which has to be paid by consumers.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, USA, the average American household spent $1,380 over the last year on consumer electronics. This translates to a $165 billion per year industry that is apparently thriving in spite of the economic recession.

While having the latest and greatest electronic devices can be fun, necessary, or both, our addiction to having these items comes at a high cost to ourselves and our planet. Enormous amounts of raw, often limited, resources are used to make these devices. Moreover, there are intensive levels of energy and work required to design, assemble, package, ship, and deliver them around the world to consumers. Not to mention that millions of devices are replaced once, twice, maybe even three times a year by customers eager for something better and a new model.

This replacement and wastage results in a large amount of hazardous household waste that is often irresponsibly discarded in the garbage. When electronics and gadgets are not recycled properly, the raw materials inside them often leech toxic chemicals into the ground, damaging our water and food supply for decades. For this reason, it is extremely important to recycle electronic devices and gadgets in a proper manner.

According to fair estimates, the electronic waste gets double in around 12 years. That being the case, it’s essential to recognize the damage we can do to the environment and our children and grandchildren by simply throwing an old device in the trash.

Technological improvements mean that the phones, tablets, computers and other electric devices we find so essential are cheaper and more powerful than ever. However, this means we upgrade them sooner and they quickly become unwanted or obsolete, and are thrown away. The huge amounts of waste electrical and electronic equipment, WEEE, or e-waste, that results is quickly becoming a major worldwide environmental, economic and health problem.

However, not all e-waste is the same. Different equipment can contain hundreds or even thousands of different substances, some of which are potentially highly toxic, while others are extremely valuable. Much of electronic waste is made of metals like gold, lead, nickel, silver, tin and zinc, alongside valuable reusable plastics. Hazardous elements include materials such as asbestos, batteries, printed circuit boards, and printer toner cartridges. Throwing away high-value materials represents a huge waste. 

With the world’s population expected to grow to nine billion by 2050, and a corresponding leap in the amount of waste electronics that we consume and discard, we urgently need to get a grip on this problem and introduce proper laws, regulations and procedures that will ensure that electronic waste and gadgets are safely dealt with.

Therefore, before we plan to buy any electronic gadget, we need to understand its use and thereafter its impact on the finances and environment. 

-Buy smarter gadgets and equipment, which consume less power and are more durable.

-Do not throw the gadgets due to upcoming new models but use its till its life or when major repairs are required.

-Try to repair the equipment rather than throwing it in garbage. If still in working condition, it can be given to others, recycle or thrift shops for onward utilization.

Let the manufactured items are used until its useful operating life.


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