Thursday, January 23, 2014

February 2014 Green Tip: Purchasing Electronics

As members of the university system in the 21st century, our lives are dominated by electronics like phones and laptops. These products are increasingly smaller, faster, and more advanced in their capabilities, allowing us to interact and share more efficiently than with older technologies; however, the process of putting these products together is much more socially and environmentally destructive than is often evident to the average consumer.

Conflict minerals (like gold and tantalum) are present in most of our commonly used electronics. These minerals are generally attained through intense social exploitation (i.e. child labor) in disastrous mines that cause extreme environmental degradation for their surrounding areas. Countries like the Congo that are rich in natural resources but are politically unstable are ravaged by war and violence because of this mineral trade that is fueled by western consumer demand for electronics.


Organizations like Raise Hope for Congo are working to raise awareness about these issues and are urging electronics companies to take responsibility for their mining practices.

Next time you consider purchasing a new phone or laptop, consider first if you really need a new one. If you determine that what you have isn't sufficient, consider buying a refurbished one instead You can also refer to the Enough Project's company rankings, a rating system that evaluates corporations on their efforts to be "Conflict Free."

There is currently an initiative at UC Santa Cruz to become a conflict-free campus. For more information about this effort, please contact Leeza Arbatman, President of STAND, a student anti-genocide coalition that is currently focusing on these issues. Email her at earbatma [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

Read more about the ways that conflict minerals affect people living in the Congo in this National Geographic piece.

2 comments:

Liza Jenifer said...

you have great approach, I think Countries like the Congo that are rich in natural resources but are politically unstable are ravaged by war and violence because of this mineral trade that is fueled by western consumer demand for electronics which is good sign for them. You have done nice job to share this post. keep it up...... Watch Phone

Darnell Collier said...

I gotta agree with Liza, Shauna. Certainly there are still some of those countries that are new to using technological advancements. However, in time, they would definitely be on par with other countries regarding cellular phones.

Darnell Collier