Protect Our Planet and Children from E-Waste

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Millions of tons of e-waste are buried in landfills every year, putting the health of our children at risk. Take action now!


This year, each of us will throw out, recycle, or shove into a desk drawer an average of 16.8 pounds of old phones, laptops, toasters, and other electronics and appliances. UN data estimates we collectively toss out about 63.3 million tons of electronic waste worldwide1.

Within these discarded electronics are toxic heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium, PVC plastic, and brominated flame retardants, which can harm human health and the environment2. These rare earth elements are currently crucial components in high-tech electronics, but are hazardous to extract3.

After its use, only about 20 percent of e-waste is properly recycled to enable recovery of the valuable materials. Much of the rest is dumped in landfills where toxic chemicals can leach from the e-waste and end up contaminating the water supply2.

In the Global South, children who pick out valuable metals from the trash are exposed to more than 1,000 toxic substances4.

Demands for more sustainable designs have never been more urgent, especially considering the global transition to more renewable forms of electricity and transportation will require metals like lithium and copper5.

If these materials cannot be sourced through recycling, they must be mined, which can lead to significant environmental damage6.

The easiest way to solve the e-waste crisis is to produce less e-waste. Opting to reduce, reuse, repair, or recycle electronics whenever possible can make a difference in the amount of e-waste that is put back into our environment every year. Sign the E-Waste Pledge and ensure a healthier future for all.

More on this issue:

  1. ITU (2021), "Global E-waste Monitor 2020."
  2. Renee Cho, Global Earth Institute, Columbia Climate School (27 August 2018) "What Can We Do About the Growing E-waste Problem?"
  3. Elisabeth Mahy, BBC (17 February 2020), "Can we fix our way out of the growing e-waste problem?"
  4. World Health Organization (15 June 2021), "Soaring e-waste affects the health of millions of children, WHO warns."
  5. Jocelyn Timperly, Carbon Brief (4 December 2018), "Explainer: These six metals are key to a low-carbon future."
  6. WEEE Forum (14 October 2021), "International E-Waste Day - 14 October 2021."
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The Pledge:

As an advocate for the health and wellbeing of all global citizens, especially our children, I pledge to take the following steps to reduce the amount of e-waste I generate each year.

  • Reduce: Newer electronics may look and function better, but the short-lived novelty comes at an even greater environmental price. By taking care of electronics instead of buying each new generation, I will help them last longer, while saving money.
  • Reuse: Instead of tossing out that old television set or gaming console, I will consider regifting, selling, or donating it.
  • Repair: Instead of trashing broken electronics, I will first consider the cost of a repair.
  • Recycle: Whenever and wherever permitted, I will bring my unused electronics to a local recycling center or any other organization with an electronics recycling program, or to the original manufacturer.

Following these steps, I pledge to divert toxic heavy metals from the environment, and ensure a healthier future for all.

Sincerely,

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