Short Circuit: the Lifecycle of our Gadgets and the True Cost to Earth.
A new report launched by The Gaia Foundation and allies, exposes the social and ecological atrocities and the toxic legacy of gadgets such as smartphones and laptops. From environmental destruction and contamination caused by extraction, exploitative working conditions during production, to the mountains of e-waste being shipped abroad, the report follows the birth, life and death of everyday gadgets and reveals their true cost to the planet and to future generations.
Short Circuit - The Lifecycle of our Electronic Gadgets and the True Cost to Earth is the follow-up to the 2012 report, Opening Pandora's Box, which exposed the alarming scale and rate of growth of the extractive industries and the disastrous ecological impact that this is having across the world. Short Circuit turns our attention to a key driver of this growth - the surge in consumerism and an increasingly throw-away culture, fuelled by marketing and illusions of necessity, and supported by the built-in obsolescence of our electronic gadgets.
You can download the full report as a pdf here: SHORT CIRCUIT.
To order a hard copy of the report please follow this link to our online shop - SHORT CIRCUIT report
We thank Michael Mansfield QC, Dame Vivienne Westwood, Charles Eisenstein, Jim Puckett, Nic Marks, Gathuru Mburu and Julian Kirby for their support. Read their endorsements here!
For full Press Release please see attachment at the foot of this page: Short Circuit - New Report shows the True Cost of our Obsession with Electronic Gadgets
The Lifecycle of our Electronic Gadgets
Birth: What are the different components that make these items, in particular which metals and minerals are mined, what is the extent of pollution and waste generated, what are the manufacturing processes that produce them, and the impact on workers, livelihoods, communities and ecosystems?
Life: What are the current consumer trends and developments in mobile technology, what are the impacts of the expansion of virtual connection, what are the consequences of a throw-away consumer culture, what is the impact of inbuilt obsolescence, and a business model that centres around constant 'upgrades'?
Death: How are these items disposed of, what are the recycling options and initiatives, what happens to our gadgets at the end of their life, what are the problems generated by e-waste?
So where to from here?
The concluding chapter looks into the different strategies proposed by organisations and individuals in order to address the issues above. There are many points of action and possibilities for alternatives. We can design systems and products for the 'circular economy', and we can 'close the loop' on the lifecycle of electronics by designing products that are infinitely recyclable with little or no waste throughout their entire lifecycle.
Ultimately however, we must also look at the deeper issue of a dominant throw-away consumer culture. This economic model requires ever-more mining developments and aggressive marketing strategies to feed our desire to have the latest gadget, no matter what the true cost. The aim of the Short Circuit report is to expose the hidden costs behind these electronic items so that as individuals and as a society we can re-evaluate their true value.
Liz Hosken, Director of The Gaia Foundation explains: "With the number of mobile-connected devices projected to exceed the number of humans on Earth by the end of 2013, Short Circuit reminds us that these gadgets are made from the body of the Earth - something which their shiny appearance belies. Our increased connectivity through communications masks our total disconnection with the Earth, our one and only life source. No sooner are these minerals and metals mined and processed into gadgets, they are discarded and upgraded in favour of the next 'generation'. With every new generation of phone or computer we devour and toxify more of the Earth, which has already been destabilised by the impact of industrial society over the last few centuries, triggering both climate change and mass extinction. If we care for the future of our children, we cannot allow this destructive system to continue. Short Circuit shows us there is another way, by establishing a circular economy, which respects our planets boundaries and life processes. This report calls the alert and appeals for us all to respond."
What can I do?
Spread the word! Share this report and the key messages with colleagues, family and friends. Knowledge is power and the first challenge is to open our eyes to the destructive system in which we are currently unwittingly supporting. Share our spoof smartphone advert on facebook and twitter!
Do what you can to build a critical mass for change. There are a number of excellent campaigns which you can support to put pressure on governments and corporations to change the system. There are also numerous ways in which you can be the transition! Find out more about ways in which you can act and respond.