The Faustian Technology Bargain

From cell phones to laptops to flat screen TVs, our world is filled with electronics that help us be more productive, entertain us, and make communications quicker and easier. If you’ve read any of our other blogs on the subject, you know that the convenience our devices bring us come with a high cost in the form their toll on the environment. It’s the Faustian bargain we all live with in order to have immediate access to movies, data and music.

The chemicals used to make all of these electronics are not easily biodegradable and when left in a landfill slowly release into the soil and drinking water as toxins; burning them releases those toxins into the air. And the love affair developed countries have with their devices, coupled with laziness, ignorance or not caring about how to properly dispose of them, means our landfills already have too much of these dangerous chemicals assimilating into our world.

But consumers are not entirely to blame. Manufacturers play an active role in getting us to throw out products that might still be functional. The best example is the cell phone industry. Cell phone companies encourage us to upgrade with rebates and incentives to buy the latest phones. Then those old phones either go into a drawer or often, the trash. Other culprits are hardware failure (24% of laptops will fail in the first three years of ownership), new technologies emerging (digital TV, for example), disposable printers, software upgrades and impossible-to-replace batteries.

At bloomfield knoble, we take these issues very seriously. Our offices have every indicator of the villains listed above represented on many if, not all of our team members’ desks. But we are conscientious of the tradeoff we’ve made with our technology. For every client communication and presentation that we are able to more efficiently and effectively execute thanks to the latest technology, we know we’re responsible to make sure that same enabling technology doesn’t live on for decades to come as toxins in our children’s drinking water.

That’s why we support the Electronics TakeBack Coalition in their efforts to disseminate information about how best to recycle electronics:

  • Don’t throw them away
  • Donate for reuse
  • Find a responsible recycler
  • Try the manufacturer’s free recycling program
  • Talk to your local retailer like Best Buy
  • Mail your phone to a recycler

Click here for more information.

Of course, another course of action is to avoid the obsolescence of your devices for as long as possible in the first place. Upgrading or repairing older and possibly outdated electronics may be easier than you think. With its free repair manuals and troubleshooting guides, iFixit.com provides some solutions to the e-waste problem by keeping your electronics out of the dump and in your hands for as long as possible.

bloomfield knoble encourages you to be responsible and follow these recycling and electronics repair tips. Until the industry is able to create less environmentally damaging products, the best we can do as consumers is to keep the products out of our landfills. Since we can’t back out of this electronic world and all its benefits now (just ask Faust), we need to make the most of them and diminish their environmental impact in ways we are able to control.

To learn more about bloomfield knoble, visit www.bloomfieldknoble.com.

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