Tag Archives: ethics

Vancouver is Smart

Vancouver has proven to be a community-driven and environmentally-conscious city because of a few innovative minds who are leading the way.  One such organization is FreeGeek Vancouver.  This is a community-based project that helps to recycle used computers and help people who don’t have access to electronics become acquainted with them.  One of the more interesting aspects of FreeGeek is the time and effort they have put into finding out how and where old computers are recycled and the drastic effects E-waste has on poor-nations who end up recycling toxic waste from electronics to make a living.  According to one of the founders of the organization, because Canada has legislation to protect us from dealing with toxic waste, the remnants of our old computers are shipped to nations like China, where the junk is a wanted commodity because of the materials that can be extracted from it.  Freegeekvancouver.org provides information on the devastating effects the toxic waste has on the people who end up dealing with it.  According to Ifny Lachance, one of the founders of FreeGeek, eighty percent of computer hardware from North American “heads directly offshore to poorer countries, usually China. There, “recycling” generally consists of haphazard dumping, burning, and picking through by unprotected workers”.  Many of the workers exposed to the toxic materials, such as cadmium, mercury, lead, and barium, can die within years of being exposed to them on a daily basis.  Personally, I had no idea about this phenomenon and naively believed that computers were basically pieces of plastic strewn together whose fate was to be melted and made into other pieces of plastic.  It takes resourceful and creative people to take on a problem this large, that everyone else is seemingly ignoring, and attempt to make a difference.  Thus, Vancouver is home to moral people who desire to better the community and the world as has been proved in recent seminars.

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Technology is making me fat and socially awkward, and I like it!

Does the perpetual seeking of convenience-based technologies ultimately benefit society? Yes, it does; its benefits can be seen in all aspects of our life. Imagine a world with no remote controls to change the channel, no cell phones to catch up with friends, no computers to do your home work on, and no liquid-tab Advil to ease your hangovers. We as consumers drive industries to produce more and more convenient technologies so we can waste less time using old-fashioned physical and mental effort.

Of course there is a cost for all this convenience. At my old job I sometime worked with people very closely on projects but never actually met them in person or even talked to them on the phone, which is kind of sad and isolating. And I don’t walk or take the bus anywhere anymore. I take my vehicle. The planet absorbs this act and pays the price for my need for convenience. (I also guiltily admit a weakness for the “mini-sublime”, and drive an SUV because I find it cool; my eco-Karma is definitely showing a debt on my side.) Driving is just easier and more pleasant, as it doesn’t involve uncomfortable interactions with the more talkative members of the bus-riding community. The has led to a dramatically more sedentary lifestyle. There are times when I can feel the calories not burning; they are kicking of their shoes, settling in and making themselves at home.

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