Nokia wants to plant a tree for every cell phone you recycle. No, I’m not kidding. They’ll even map the tree on Google Earth so you can, well, watch it, I suppose.
I get the Green IT movement. It makes total sense. Build products that have limited amounts of toxic components, are designed to be upgraded (rather than disposed of) and use less energy.
Unfortunately, that’s counter to one of the core philosophies of our consumer society – planned obsolescence, where we intentionally manufacture products that are designed to have a limited shelf-life (all the better to sell a new model next year).
It also ignores the fact that the pace of technological advancement is not slowing down – it’s getting faster, which appeals to our consumeristic nature since we know that what we buy today can be easily replaced when it gets “old” with a newer model that is smaller, faster, lighter and probably cheaper (and I’m the first to admit that I really enjoyed the day that I tossed aside my old MP3 player for a newer model that had more memory and was half the size).
So how do we effect change and move towards a more eco-friendly model that embraces global takeback (especially when we can’t even get everyone in my neighborhood to agree on whether or not recycling plastic and glass bottles is worth the effort)?
Personally, I don’t think legislative efforts by themselves are a good idea. I’m a much stronger supporter of industry “awareness” programs, recognizing that “green” does in fact sell to a growing consumer market. We also have to aggressively learn to re-use the existing equipment that we have already deployed. Continuing to toss “outdated yet functional” electronics into the scrap heap isn’t doing anybody, anywhere any good.
With that in mind, I came across the following video GREEN PLANET Episode 6: E-Waste: Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle (courtesy of TelecomTV). It does a great job of putting the task into perspective, as well as demonstrating some interesting steps that are being taken internationally to increase the recycling and reuse of “non-green” products already in the market (including Nokia’s “phones for trees” plan).
It also does a good job of demonstrating that electronics that you and I might consider to be obsolete might be considered incredibly valuable by somebody else. Perhaps they’ve never been able to afford one of their own (a common problem in developing nations), or perhaps they recognize the money that can be made by breaking down the unit and extracting/refining the materials for resale (Green IT and capitalism can work together).
Either way, this particular video caught my eye, and I thought it worthy of passing along.