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Tonight as I sat feeding my daughter, I read an article on my smart phone about techy people that are saying ‘no’ to smart phones and holding onto their old mobile telephones. These people want to be ‘disconnected’ to a degree when home: to not be contactable and to not be distracted by their new devices.
So could these people be onto something? As more and more new electronic devices are introduced, consumers quickly rid themselves of their mobile telephones, computers, laptops, tablets etc for the newest and greatest. So what happens to all of these devices? Where do they end up?
Very likely this electronic waste or e-waste ends up in places like Guiyu in China or Agbogbloshi in Ghana where people work to take apart the electronic devices to extract metals such as copper and steel. While some of these metals have a value to those that collect them, electronic devices also contain many nasty chemicals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium and the list goes on. Once the valuable materials have been extracted out of the devices (usually in crude ways such as burning), the rest is dumped with little regard to its environmental impacts or impacts on the health of communities that deal and manage this waste.
Now to prevent the transport of hazardous waste around the world, the BASEL convention was set up. The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal was established in 1989 and this treaty has been signed by over 180 countries. E-waste is covered under this treaty which is what makes the movement of all of this electronic waste from developed countries to developing countries like China, Ghana and India troubling. One way this is happening is that old computers, televisions and mobiles are given as ‘gifts’, except that these gifts often don’t work!
Here is a good clip on e-waste: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A5zVNpkuzk
The AMP project
The Abu Dhabi Eco-Chicks is a group of dedicated eco-minded women and when we were established, we were all living in Abu Dhabi. Many of us however moved away and are working in all parts of the globe, from Africa, the Philippines to Australia. One of our super dedicated and passionate Eco-Chicks, Dr Yasmine Abbas is currently working in Agbogbloshie on the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP) project.
This initiative is a: “collaborative project to upgrade the quality of life and environment at Agbogbloshie, an e-waste ecosystem in Accra, Ghana” (http://qamp.net/project/) . This project seeks to empower and facilitate the diversification of income from the scrap dealers by upcycling the scrap e-waste into things like refrigerators and microwave ovens!
What can you do?
While this initiative is so important because it is working with those that are bearing the brunt of our consumerist disposal society, what can we do to prevent this waste from ending up in places like Agbogbloshie?
• Where economically feasible, repair machinery, appliances and equipment in preference to purchasing new equipment.
• Purchase electronics from those that you know have a take back policy. For example Hewlett Packard have extended their take back and recycling program to cover the UAE. To participate in this, please go to: http://h41111.www4.hp.com/globalcitizenship/uae/en/environment/recycle/hardware.html and complete the online form.
• Contact reputable e-waste recyclers in the UAE about how to recycle your electronic waste. These recyclers should be able to ensure electronic waste does not end up in unregulated places like developing countries. An example of an e-waste recycler operating in the UAE is: Enviroserve: http://www.enviroserve.ae/services/e-scrap/
• Please share this article with your friends and contacts!
Green Drinks – Wednesday November 28th – Park Hyatt Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi – 7:30pm onwards.
Please join us for the next Green Drinks* event in Abu Dhabi!
The evening will include opportunities for socializing and networking with like-minded people in the beautiful setting of Saadiyat Beach. Please note that both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will be available at this event.
All are welcome to attend (MEN and WOMEN), but please be sure to RSVP to allow for proper coordination with our hosting venue. RSVP to email@example.com
*Green Drinks International is in an environmentally interested social networking group that meets once a month in 707 cities around the world. We have a lively mixture of people from NGOs, academia, government and business. It’s a great way of catching up with people you know and also for making new contacts. These events are very simple and unstructured, but many people have found employment, made friends, developed new ideas, done deals and had moments of serendipity. (Source: Green Drinks International).
The Directorate of Energy and Climate Change at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked Abu Dhabi Ecochicks to share their invitation to attend a high-level pre-COP18 women’s majlis: “Arab women leading the way in energy and climate change” in Dubai on 13 November 2012 from 8:00am-10:30am at the Address Dubai Marina Hotel.
This event will take place just weeks before the international climate change negotiations (COP18) are held in Doha, marking the first time this important event has been hosted in the GCC. The event will highlight the role of women leaders, particularly Arab women, in advancing efforts to address climate change and to promote sustainable development, and what role they might play in a successful COP18.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org at your earliest convenience, as space is limited.