Have you guys seen the TED talk yet by Thomas Thwaites, the fellow who built a toaster from scratch? He made everything himself - from mining the ore and smelting the metal to creating molds and assembling the final piece himself. The process is fascinating, entertaining, and I think there are some great lessons here about consumption.
Lessons from a Toaster
What really struck me about this video wasn't how hard it was for him to build a simple toaster, but how many materials it required from all over the world. And that's for a bargain bin toaster. What about more complicated electronics, like your computer or smart phone?
The other eye-opening part of this video was his final solution for getting his hands on plastic: "mining" at that recycling center. It sort of begs the question about how many useful materials we're landfilling every day. When our gadgets and gizmos break, more often than not we send them to the landfill. Meanwhile, they're full of useful components that are probably still in working order.
Recycle and Reduce
This talk really underscores the importance of recycling our electronics, whether we're talking about a simple toaster or a plasma TV. Not only does recycling these items keep hazardous waste out of the ecosystem, electronics recycling centers will reclaim usable parts or even refurbish broken electronics to give them another life.
Just like using less paper is the greenest office paper option, minimizing our consumption when it comes to electronics makes an even bigger difference than recycling when that product's short life is through. There's no carbon footprint associated with deciding that you don't need to replace your flat screen with a 3D TV. Of course, we're still going to buy TVs, cell phones, and toasters, but what if we looked for refurbished or second-hand items before hitting the big box store to buy new?
What did you guys think about this video? I'd love to hear what you took away from it in the comments!