Working over 10 years in the software industry has made me familiar with the dreadful "technology graveyard". Piles of e-waste are found in our homes, offices, recycling centres and — most unfortunately — landfills.
To reduce this phenomenon, we need to shift our view of the electronics lifecycle. Even though many North American cities have e-waste recycling programs (for example, http://www.return-it.ca/electronics/ in Vancouver), we need to promote fixing over recycling.
Don't get me wrong: Recycling electronics is definitely better than throwing them directly into the landfill. But how recyclable are electronic devices? As described in "The Story of Electronics" (http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-electronics/), even those that make it to recycling centres are usually not completely recovered. Many parts — often the toxic bits — end up in the landfill after salvageable parts are removed.
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The next time you consider upgrading your phone or computer, fix it instead. Visit online communities (such as lifehacker.com) for how-to suggestions, or talk to local repair shops. If fixing your electronics still costs more than replacing them, consider writing to the manufacturer to join the growing group of voices demanding sustainable electronics development.
We need to hold companies financially and environmentally accountable throughout the entire lifecycle of their products, including recycling and disposal. Designing products for environmental sustainability will then become the most economically viable option for both consumer and seller.