Looking for E-waste stories

by | Mar 20, 2021 | ICT4D |


Strangely, in the humanitarian space we don’t talk much about the atmospheric cancer crisis (aka climate change). I’ve often wondered why we don’t care about our ecologically footprint of our operations. Surely there is a link between our contribution to the atmospheric cancer and the increase in disasters we need to respond too.

Thankfully, this is beginning to change. The change is small, but it is there. I am hearing more stories of organisations beginning to look at their ecological footprint – and not just how many flights their expats take. In some countries, organisations are finally switching from diesel generators to solar for their offices. Electric land cruisers and land rovers are becoming more possible. And so on.

However, one elephant still in the room is our electronic waste. Our computers and phones. Often these are seen as disposable now – use for a year or two, bin it, and get a new one. A new one with all the latest gadgets even when the older version is perfectly adequate.

Repairing products is rarely appealing to most of us. We want the latest version. The Repair Shop on the BBC does a great job of showing how amazing repairing things can be, but it tends to be for ‘old’ things. However, the other side of repair and repurposing is economic – it can generate jobs. This project being run by the University of Edinburgh is looking for stories of repair in refugee camps. This new, repairable, upgradeable laptop is trying to break into the market.

But there must be more going on. E-waste is a toxic and growing problem, which we must tackle. Please share your stories of work going on in this space with me.

Photo by John Cameron


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