Sustainable Living

There has become a major trend for innovation and new, exciting products. I myself am fully behind innovation and development for the planet and for us who live with challenges that can be helped with new technologies. While some of this is good, it has also has its drawbacks.

Due to fast-pace change, companies strive to be constantly re-developing products. I find this particularly worrying with phones. Everyone seems to want the latest model and throw away their old phones. This creates demand for the materials in phones and produces a lot of waste. According to a recent Greenpeace report, roughly 968 TWh has been used in the production of smartphones since their commercial release. This amount of power is roughly the same used in an entire year in India (a country with almost ⅕ of the world’s population). In addition, each device contributes significantly to the 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste. It is also estimated that we are throwing away £50 billion of electronic waste every year. At the same time, workers in manufacturing countries are experiencing slave-like conditions as they mine for minerals or work in production plants to assure that those with the means have the required unlimited supply of these technologies. Think about that the next time you “want” a new phone rather than “need”. All you need to do is a quick google search to see the impact this has all over the globe.

E-Waste (Source: The Independent)

While some estimates assert that smartphone lifespans have the potential of reaching up to 5-10 years, most consumers use them for an average of only 12-24 months. The environmental implications of this are enormous. Much of this will end up in landfill where their harmful chemicals can leak into groundwater and affect both human and plant life.

Smartphone Manufacturing

This rate of individual consumption is unsustainable. I am not innocent of this either. And it is not just phones. Waste is at the very heart of fashion. By now many of us know the term “fast-fashion” and the implications it has. More garments are bought and discarded than ever – 57% of these go to landfill.

I have recently been solely buying from charity shops for my clothes. I am not a big clothes shopper anyway. This was not initially for preventing waste, I partly just enjoyed looking around for clothes I liked at smaller prices. One day, I was walking around town and realized that everything I was wearing I had bought from a charity shop, right down to the shoes on my feet. It made me realize, it isn’t that hard for anyone to cut down their input in supporting fast-fashion brands and companies, even if it is just one piece of clothing.

There are so many charity shops in and around Dundee that need your support. I would encourage anyone to just have a visit and look around, you don’t even need to buy anything, just give yourself the opportunity and open-mindedness to do so.

That kind of goes with the other products you buy too. We always believe we need a new product and forget to think that it could be bought second-hand. Whether that is phones, laptops, TV’s or even just a replacement charger, you could buy it from a second-hand shop such like CDX. I have gotten a dining table, TV stand and side drawer from the British Heart Foundation and I intend to sell it on after I move out.

I suggest browsing Facebook Market place, Ebay, Depop etc first before looking for brand new products. I am sure that if everyone of us made even this slightest effort, a lot of waste could be prevented, and local and global people would benefit.

To finish off, I don’t want this to come across as if I am blaming anyone, we all have our part in the impact of the world – good and bad.

In the coming up to Christmas where excessive buying is ingrained into our society, it is important to stop and think about the impacts that this makes every year and what you could do little by little to improve this. A little more good wouldn’t hurt anyone. 😉

Written by:

Hi! I am in 5th year of University studying Civil Engineering. I hope to talk about life in Univeristy and outwith your studies to make the most of your time here!

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