Today I went in search of a new mouse. I lost the little wireless usb thingy that connected it to my laptop. My first thought was to just replace it. This alarmed me a bit, my complete apathy towards waste. So I called the manufacturer to order a new usb thing, but they didn’t make that mouse anymore. I was annoyed that I couldn’t replace the part, but honestly I didn’t have time to wait for a new one anyway. So now I have the old mouse staring me in the face. Just as I was beginning to resent having to cart this thing 5 miles to dispose of it responsibly it occurred to me to ask why the responsibility for disposal falls to me in the first place? I don’t mean where do I give it away or how do I find an organization that will dispose of it for me. I mean like unmaking it, removing it from the planet as if it had never been.
I’m not a manufacturer. I didn’t have the vaguest idea what went into the production of this thing in the first place. I mean shouldn’t companies that manufacture huge quantities of plastic/metal/glass/wire gizmos know how to safely dispose of them? And, having created them in the first place, shouldn’t they take responsibility for disposing of them at the end of their useful life? If this responsibility fell to them I’m guessing that the lifespans of their products would begin to double, triple, quadruple. I’m not trying to shirk all responsibility for the waste I produce, but maybe we should be rethinking things that are only useful for a few years, but will remain on the planet forever.
To see where your old computer is likely to end up watch this amazing video from Frontline: http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/ghana804/video/video_index.html
On the outskirts of Ghana’s biggest city sits a smoldering wasteland, a slum carved into the banks of the Korle Lagoon, one of the most polluted bodies of water on earth. The locals call it Sodom and Gomorrah.