[The above clip is a shorter excerpt about The Restart project and new grassroots initiatives.]
The Gaia Foundation and allies launched the report: Short Circuit – The Lifecycle of our Electronic Gadgets and the True Cost to Earth in Westminster on Wednesday April 24th 2013. Short Circuit is the follow-up to the 2012 report, Opening Pandora’s Box, which exposed the global acceleration of land grabbing and environmental destruction by the extractive industries. The Gaia Foundation realised that in order to support communities affected by mining and challenge the expansion of the extractive industries, the drivers of mining must also be addressed. The new report explores one of the key drivers – the production of consumer electronic products. It looks at each stage of the lifecycle of modern electronic gadgets such as mobile phones and laptops, from extraction to production, design and marketing, through to use and disposal.
In order to create an accurate picture of the impact that consumer electronic items are having on the Earth, the report looks at each stage of their lifecycle:
Birth: what are the different components that make these items, in particular which metals and minerals are mined, what is the extent of pollution and waste generated, what are the manufacturing processes that produce them, and the impact on workers, livelihoods, communities and ecosystems.
Life: what are the current consumer trends and developments in mobile technology, what are the impacts of the expansion of virtual connection, what are the consequences of a throw-away consumer culture, what is the impact of inbuilt obsolescence, and a business model that centres around constant ‘upgrades’.
Death: how are these items disposed of, what are the recycling options and initiatives, what happens to our gadgets at the end of their life, what are the problems generated by e-waste.
The concluding chapter looks into the different strategies proposed by organisations and individuals in order to address the issues above. There are many points of action and possibilities for alternatives. We can design systems and products for the ‘circular economy’, and we can ‘close the loop’ on the lifecycle of electronics by designing products that are infinitely recyclable with little or no waste throughout their entire lifecycle.
Ultimately however, we must also look at the deeper issue of a dominant throw-away consumer culture. This economic model requires ever more mining developments and aggressive marketing strategies to feed our desire to have the latest gadget, no matter what the true cost. The aim of the Short Circuit report is to expose the hidden costs behind these electronic items so that as individuals and as a society we can re-evaluate their true value.
About the event:
Disconnecting from Consumerism: Embracing a ‘New Materialism’ and Re-imagining our Relationship with Information Technology
Following the report launch in Westminster, The Gaia Foundation hosted an evening to share and celebrate the launch of the report and provide the opportunity to look to the future and discuss an alternative path forward. The report highlights the need to address our consumption patterns and re-think how and why we value ‘stuff’. How can we re-imagine our relationship with information technology and consumer electronics?
Introduced by Liz Hosken and Philippe Sibaud. Talk and discussion with Ruth Potts and Ugo Vallauri.
For more info please visit:
To download the Short Circuit report please go to: www.gaiafoundation.org
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Since graduating with a degree in politics and development, Amy has been working on issues concerned with Indigenous rights, biodiversity protection, alternative economics and action on global climate change. She worked with the Native Spirit Foundation, which provides a platform for dialogue between the Indigenous world and modern societies, coordinating an annual film festival and workshops, screenings and events through the year. She also worked at the Gaia Foundation, working with communities to revive Indigenous knowledge to secure land, seed, food and water sovereignty and to protect Sacred Natural Sites. She worked specifically on highlighting the devastating impact of the global extractive industries and supporting communities to strengthen resistance to mining in their territories. Concerning the challenges that face humanity today, she believes that there is much to learn (and re-learn) from Indigenous cultures and traditional knowledge. She is also excited by the many possibilities and social movements presenting alternatives to our unsustainable global economy.
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