New technologies and gadgets come and go quickly. Do you remember what you did with that old clunky TV that you replaced with a flat-screen TV? Is it still lying around the house somewhere? Was it given away? Or maybe it was recycled? E-waste accumulation is a serious side-effect of our consumerism that is literally kept out of sight and out of mind. People often-times recycle their old electronics assuming that they would be disposed of safely and ethically; however, there are instances when the waste is merely shipped out to a developing country. PBS Frontline reported on this issue in their piece titled “Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground” which gave some insight as to what really happens to some of our old technologies. The report begins with footage of Ghanaian children walking in fields that are covered in mounds of old electronics. The children are also seen setting fire to the e-waste in hopes of melting the plastic and collecting the metals that can be resold. Merely being around this process could be hazardous considering the fact that many contain toxic chemicals that are released into the air.
Situations such as this bring up the ethical issue of whether our thirst for pursuit for new technologies is worth the consequences of disposing of the old. It can be argued that advancing technologies can benefit both developed and undeveloped countries but it is hard to deny that there is a hidden price that has to be paid.