Assignment 7: E-Waste and the Digital Divide
The idea of closing the digital divide, the gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology and those with very limited or no access at all, is a great idea for a perfect world. But will all the technological waste created with such a small portion of the world active in the modern technology it, is it really realistic?
The expansive digital divide can be visualized in the image “The Global Digital Divide.” Sure the idea of everyone in the world being equal, and intern have the same educational opportunities and access to modern technology is a wonderful idea but is it really sustainable. As seen in the movie: “Ghana: the Digital Dumping Ground”, e-waste from western Europe and the United States, is currently being shipped to poor, underdeveloped countries that do not even have access to the technology that is being dumped there. E-waste, or Electronic waste can be described as loosely discarded, surplus, obsolete, or broken electrical or electronic devices. Informal processing of electronic waste in developing countries, such as Ghana, causes serious health and pollution problems. So with all of the e-waste currently created by such a small portion of the world’s population, how much e-waste would be created if the digital divide was eradicated?
A better solution to closing the digital divide, might be to reuse old technology, thrown away by the western world in developing countries to allow for basic, slightly dated, access to technology. “By “re-functioning” old/obsolete technologies or inventing new uses for common ones, communities in many places have fashioned technologies to fit their needs and priorities (TRT 8).” This is currently done in small scale in some countries as can be seen in the image below; where African children are re-using an old discarded computer.
By closing the digital divide through re-utilizing technology too dated to be effective in the west, in developing countries, there be a possible reduction in the environmental impact of e-waste and an increase of access to technology in developing countries helping close the digital divide.
It is time for consumers to be made aware of what happens to all of the electronics they throw away so they can be more responsible about how their waste is disposed of. Right now the west is making many “errors committed out of ignorance (DME 113),” but that needs to stop. People need to take the time to make sure that their e-waste is properly discarded for either re-use or recycling, and not just being passed on to the less fortunate parts of the world.