Friday, May 14, 2010

Information Overload

Over the last century, society has changed and developed in such a way that we demand instant gratification, becoming popular through the technology boom along with the development of the internet. Is our ability to simply turn to Google for information or reply to a Facebook update really necessary for our self actualization? We are being bombarded by logos, icons, text, false information, advertisements and the occasional popup describing male genital elongation. This presents some large scale problems:

Too much screen time increases insomnia and anxiety but more evidently, it stunts social growth in children, prevents face to face social interactions, and decreases physical activity. Removing the physical and personal connection with someone makes it increasingly difficult to communicate effectively. At the same time, 30%-33% of Americans are now obese because of lack of exercise and bad diet. There is no excuse for that!

Too many distractions lead to forgetting about what you need to do to make yourself happy. If you are linked in all the time to keep up with what your friends are doing, you may forget that you need something more than reading a twitter message on your smart phone. It would be easier to just meet and talk about your life with them over a beer instead of over the internet. Some people become obsessed with something online that is simply not real. 'Escaping reality' online is causing detrimental problems for people finding lovers, spreading false information quickly and deteriorating social and physical health.

Many people seem to enjoy the ability to disconnect with the existent world by connecting to an online one. The problems above are only a select few of a global shift in the way we interact with other people. Some may say that we are increasing our sociability and reach to the rest of the world but I don't think sitting with your family and updating your Twitter is being social.

Monday, May 10, 2010

E-Waste and Ethical Recycling

I have mentioned in a past posting about how our fast moving technology is leading to an unsustainable future. E-waste is any electronic waste such as TV’s, Computers, electronic gadgets that become a part of the waste system and is increasing due to our fast moving technology. The largest difference between regular trash and e-waste is the presence of many chemicals residing within. These valuable yet toxic metals present a large problem, mostly the contamination to the area around where the e-waste is dumped and eventually into the water sources. So like in my past post, I recommended recycling your e-waste to help the environment; this being an ethical and sustainable practice right?

I have recently gone to a volunteer session at Free Geek, a Canada and USA ethical salvaging centre, where I learned some very key ideas involving recycling. Contrary to popular belief, recycling centres are not always sustainable, efficient, ethical, or environmentally friendly. A large portion of them do not recycle everything that is within the product such as certain chemicals or heavy metals. Many organizations simply ship e-waste to other countries such as Africa or China where some is salvaged for money and the rest is dumped. This presents a huge problem especially with the increase in e-waste within the past 10 years. Estimates of around 40-50 million tonnes of e-waste is dumped around the world yearly; that number steadily increasing with the increased perception of obsolete electronics. Not only are these recycling organizations not recycling efficiently or sustainably, there are just not very many of them at all!

Concepts surrounding the idea of recycling are at times misconceptions so one must do some research into which recyclers are ethical. Call and ask who their downstream recyclers are and if they are withholding that information, you know something is not right. It is the consumer’s responsibility to use their electronics for their entire lifetime and ensure proper disposal for this is the only earth we all have to live on and what you can do affects how we live!

Facts and Definitions

Planned Obsolesce: A marketing strategy used to create new software in order to make the old electronics running it obsolete.

Vista Layer: The millions of tonnes of electronics dumped due to Microsoft creating Vista, an inefficient operating system designed to get the consumer to update their computer. (Planned Obsolesce)

Canada has signed an international treaty called the Basel Convention which is used to prevent the export of e-waste to other countries (recycle within the same country). Canada has not enforced this treaty due to lack of funding so e-waste is still shipped across borders.

The average lifespan of a computer in 1999 was 6 years, now it is 2 years.

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