Safe Haven for Dead Gadgets

When he’s not logging swim hours in the Atlantic Ocean, Earthkeeper Hero Christopher Swain takes to dry land to educate the public about pollution and the need for cleaner waterways.  In Philadelphia last week, Christopher staged an Ethical Electronics Recycling Event where more than 11,000 pounds of discarded and outdated consumer electronics (commonly known as “e-waste”) were collected for recycling and, when possible, reuse.

What’s the link between your old computer and the clean ocean Christopher Swain is advocating for?  In his own words:

If these devices get tipped into a landfill, or dumped on the ground in Asia or Africa, they vomit their toxic contents–mercury, lead, arsenic, barium, hexavalent chromium, and other nasty compounds–into the environment.  This pollutes nearby lands and waterways, and eventually, the ocean.


Dead dolphins and porpoises have been found with high levels of manmade toxics like brominated fire retardants in their blubber.  Have dolphins been fighting fires?  Maybe.  But a more likely explanation is that they have eaten fish from oceans contaminated with the same chemical powders that grace the insides of our cell phones and laptops.

That’s scary enough to make any Earthkeeper give up his or her electronic gadget habit … or at least find a safe home for those dead iPods and laptops.

You can read more about Christopher’s work to clean up our e-waste in his blog post on Changents.com.  And if you’re interested in organizing an electronics recycling event for your community, visit Christopher’s website.

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