Can Yoga and Meditation Help Us to Connect With Nature? – EcoWatch

Posted: January 12, 2021 at 7:54 am


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But few people realize that our reliance on electronics comes with steep environmental costs, from mining minerals to disposing of used devices. Consumers can't resist faster products with more storage and better cameras, but constant upgrades have created a growing global waste challenge. In 2019 alone, people discarded 53 million metric tons of electronic waste.

In our work as sustainability researchers, we study how consumer behavior and technological innovations influence the products that people buy, how long they keep them and how these items are reused or recycled.

Our research shows that while e-waste is rising globally, it's declining in the U.S. But some innovations that are slimming down the e-waste stream are also making products harder to repair and recycle.

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There's a clear need to recycle e-waste, both to protect public health and to recover valuable metals. Electronics contain rare minerals and precious metals mined in socially and ecologically vulnerable parts of the world. Reuse and recycling can reduce demand for "conflict minerals" and create new jobs and revenue streams.

But it's not a simple process. Disassembling electronics for repair or material recovery is expensive and labor-intensive.

Some recycling companies have illegally stockpiled or abandoned e-waste. One Denver warehouse was called "an environmental disaster" when 8,000 tons of lead-filled tubes from old TVs were discovered there in 2013.

The U.S. exports up to 40% of its e-waste. Some goes to regions such as Southeast Asia that have little environmental oversight and few measures to protect workers who repair or recycle electronics.

A researcher takes apart a smartphone to find out what materials are inside. Shahana Althaf, CC BY

This dissected tablet shows the components inside, each of which were logged, weighed and measured by researchers. Callie Babbitt, CC BY

Concentration of hazardous (left) and valuable (right) materials within the U.S. e-waste stream. Althaf et al. 2020

Government, industry and consumers all have roles to play. Progress will require designing products that are easier to repair and reuse, and persuading consumers to keep their devices longer.

We also see a need for responsive e-waste laws in place of today's dated patchwork of state regulations. Establishing convenient, certified recycling locations can keep more electronics out of landfills. With retooled operations, recyclers can recover more valuable materials from the e-waste stream. Steps like these can help balance our reliance on electronic devices with systems that better protect human health and the environment.

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Can Yoga and Meditation Help Us to Connect With Nature? - EcoWatch

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January 12th, 2021 at 7:54 am

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