“Aunty, do you happen to have any waste paper at home? I need them for my Environment Day project,” chirped a bright little thing standing at my door early Sunday morning.
“I am sure I have. What is your project this year?”
“Oh! I want to emphasize on ‘Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.’ by making durable paper bags that people can pack their gifts in. It will also reduce the use of plastic.”
We need more such efforts on the part of all producers, consumers and recyclers to restore the balance on earth, which we have sadly turned into a dump yard of toxic waste that is polluting our land, water and air. The matter is serious and calls for judicious purchase and use of goods.
This Environment day, why not pledge to reduce e-waste, digital citizens?
What is e-waste?
Electronic waste or e-waste describes discarded electrical or electronic devices. Used electronics which are destined for refurbishment, reuse, resale, salvage, recycling through material recovery, or disposal are also considered e-waste.
Which means all your obsolete devices and electronic goods, that are lying around at home or been thrown away in bins, make up e-waste.
Why is there a rise in e-waste?
The volume of annual e-waste is on the rise, thanks to the desire for latest models fueled by the rise in disposable income, technological progress and cheap data rates. Gone are those thrifty days when we purchased goods to last; now we want only the smartest and latest.
Consider this: The Global E-Waste Monitor, 2017 published by the United Nations University estimated that India generates about 2 million metric tons of e-waste annually, of which almost 82% comprises of personal devices!
Why are we worried about e-waste?
We want the Earth to continue being the clean, green and beautiful planet that it is, right? But the increasing amount of e-waste is a threat to the environment. If not processed properly, it can have negative effects on pollution levels and consequently on the health of all life forms. Toxicity in soil will affect soil fertility, and hence crop production. We have already witnessed the effect of plastics and toxic fumes from incinerators on birds and animal life.
How is e-waste connected to cybersecurity?
Improper disposal of devices can also pose a security risk. If you have not taken the trouble to delete all the content and reset to factory settings, then your data, including photos may fall in wrong hands and could be misused. Before you give or throw away old devices, take care to thoroughly clean content and unsync from other devices.
How to reduce e-waste?
This is your Environment Day Mantra: Reduce. Recycle. Refurbish. Reuse.
Every time you desire to replace an electronic item, ask yourself, ‘Is it really necessary to purchase it now or can it be postponed? Am I doing it to keep up with or ahead of the Joneses? What will I do with the old product?’ Such soul-searching often leads to sane decisions that you will not regret later.
With that in mind, and the following tips handy, you can become a positive contributor to keeping the environment clean.
- Keep your devices in top condition: The two most common devices to be found in homes across India are the computer (or laptop) and smartphone. Replace slow batteries and keep them secured. Carry out regular scans and clean-ups and install all software updates.
- Protect your phone from damage: Use a screen guard and phone cases to reduce chances of breakage. Your kids can choose trendy cases that will serve two purposes: protect their phones as well as encourage them to use the devices for a longer period
- Battery life: Avoid overcharging the battery to extend battery life
- Secure your products: Use licensed security tools to remove malware and optimize performance
Some countries offer financial incentives to return old devices at designated collection centres. Perhaps we should start something like this to encourage people to recycle?
Things You Can Do This Environment Day:
Still not found a suitable project for Environment Day? Why not go on a collection drive of gaming devices and mobile phones that your neighbours have lying at home. You can then clean them and get in touch with a reputed NGO to channel these gaming devices to children’s homes, domestic help and others. Think about it.