It’s Not Just About You and Me

by Renee

November 30, 2007

When we debuted our Guide for Greener Electronics, we started the discussion with needing cleaner and greener cell phones and laptops in our homes and pockets. Last week we introduced the need for the gifts we give to video game lovers to be cleaner and greener too. But I want to take a moment to highlight that that is not the end of greening the electronics industry. It doesn’t stop with what we purchase.

Our world is getting smaller, we know this not only from our nation’s more recent immigration, trade agreement, and climate change discussions, but also from the toxic toy story’s that have saturated our tv’s and newspapers the past few months. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s sometimes hard to put ourselves in the shoes of others whose lives we can barely even image. But it is because the world is getting smaller that we need to.

Listen, I’m no hippy. I’m a somewhat odd mix to the environmental justice movement. I like shopping, makeup, and late nights out with my friends. Being an environmentalist can be difficult sometimes. There are many issues that effect every aspect of your life, of your routines. I understand the world is not black and white. There are many grey areas that sometimes keep us from being the very best that we can. But it is our duty to try and to do better when we know better. And that is why we publish these guides, talk to the companies, and explain everything we find out and know to people like you. The people who buy these products and the people who want to be making informed decisions.

The hidden story of the electronics industry are the environmental impacts of the complete life cycle. Such as . . .

– The manufacturing process where the companies chose what chemicals went into the laptop that I am using right now. If you would like to know what they are read the report we released a couple weeks ago on just that subject. We found out through taking apart many different laptops that it is possible to produce a more environmentally friendly one.

– The consequences of what is leached from our computers into our homes, offices, and coffee shops. BFR’s (brominated flame retardants) are additives to our products and so they leach out and become part of our dust and find themselves cozy little spaces to bio-accumulate in our bodies. Check out this recent report and interesting website. 35 people were tested and found that yes BFR’s have settled in our bodies.

– The people who break these products apart on open flames, unprotected in the e-waste landfills of developing nations.

The good news is that all the companies we talk to know this. And so they should be doing better.  . . . because they know better.  

There are many organizations around the world working on ending the devastating toxic waste trade between developed and developing nations.  And so as much as I love(d) my mac (it was totally stolen Oct 1) it is difficult to not think about where it came from, what it is doing, and where it will eventually end up without thinking about all of the people and places that are effected by each segment of that computer’s life.

Besides looking through our webpages, check out two of the organizations that are working with us.

Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

Basel Action Network 


Holla from Cali,


By Renee

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