E-cycling is re-polluting

Do you remember your first computer?You know, the one you used to play Number Munchers and Oregon Trail on? The one you downloaded so much illegal music and who-knows-what-else on to the hard drive that it begged for mercy? Do you remember what you did with it?Chances are you did one of four things:Kept it, and still played Oregon Trail regularly.Gave it away. Kudos to you.Trashed it. Shame on you.Or lastly, recycled it. Double shame on you.  Of course, I know all about the “Green Movement” that’s sweeping the nation much like the parachute pants craze did in the ’80s, but if you think the final resting place of our recycled electronics is in some factory where rows of workers happily dismantle yesterday’s technology, you’re horribly, horribly wrong.There is a much darker side of the e-recycling world, as investigated by a special on 60 Minutes that aired on Aug. 30. In the fields of China, Bangladesh, Ghana and many other countries, your old recycled PC sits in a gasoline-soaked pile of unwanted electronics where they are burned. The plastic melts away, mercury- and lead-filled picture tubes burst, a cocktail of chemicals wafts into the air, rivers turn to ash and migrant workers, mostly children, sift through the rubble in search of the precious un-melted metal components that they will collect and re-sell — ultimately to American companies.This is the nightmarish reality of the American e-recycling dream.The trend of shipping our electronics overseas where they become pollution is just beginning to be exposed and is something we all must be aware of and fight against. In trying to clean our country, we pollute others. We leave it to those without our technological luxuries to clean up the mess we leave behind when our technology becomes obsolete.So instead of tossing your old electronics into the “recycling” bin, consider giving them to the local places that will take them off your hands, fix them up and sell them to those who may not be able to afford something newer. You can even sell it yourself, or save it as a junk computer to play old games on, a spare hard-drive, or use it to learn how to fix and build your own PC.And remember, some things aren’t as green as we would like them to be.