With rapid development in India, the quality of life has definitely improved. However, it has also given rise to consumerism. We Indians love our gadgets and electronics and rightly so. We are darn good with electronics. We love updated versions of everything. We compulsively love to get out hands on the latest gadgets. And so the story begins. We end up buying a lot of electronic gadgets; however we’ve never learned to dispose them properly when the item can no longer be used. This waste generated from disposing unusable electronics is called is called e-waste.
So what exactly is e-waste?
Most people assume e-waste to only mean computers and peripherals (cables, printers, etc) and mobile phones. However, e-waste includes all electrical and electronic equipment including consumer electronics such as televisions and DVD players and household appliances such as refrigerators, air-conditioners and washing machines. A few recent studies have found that the total e-waste generated in India in 2005 was 146,000 tonnes. Most of the e-waste in India is generated by the 4 metropolitan cities.
Like all unused items in India, most of the e-waste goes unaccounted, i.e. in the hands of your local scrap dealer, and there is no official guideline or directive as to how e-waste should be managed. In such scrap-dealer’s godowns, untrained labourers take the individual pieces apart, often without any protection, with the aim of reselling the components. Lead, cadmium, mercury, PVC, and brominated flame retardants are some of the hazardous materials that are released during the unmonitored destruction of e-waste.
So how can I contribute?
This is not rocket science. It is rather simple to follow. Here are some tips you can follow without even moving a muscle.
- Buy environment-friendly products. Although they may be slightly expensive but they prove to be cost-effective in the long run.
- Buy products that can be upgraded in terms of capacity and technology. This will help you use gadgets longer and reduce e-waste.
- Buy Back Options: Most company or dealers have a take-back scheme, or recycling facilities. If more people demand such facilities, the more likely they are to provide it.
- Donate: Give away your old used but usable electronics to NGO’s or any local charity organisation. You could also give it to less fortunate people in your neighbourhood.
- Sell It: You probably don’t believe in charity, we are sure you have your reasons. You could sell it or auction it online.
- Do some Yoga or whatever it is you do to resist temptation. Avoid a fancier TV, mobile phone or washing machine even if your current one now seems outdated.
Increasing number of corporates have realised their responsibility to manage e-waste better as part of corporate social responsibility. You could help by reading up some helpful tips (Ahem, good start, mate!) and asking the right questions. A little judiciousness from our end can go a long way in reducing e-waste. This independence day let us try to reduce our dependence on our motherland to take care of itself. Remember mothers don’t ask for much.
Also See: India By Night