3 Environmental Issues to Look Out For in 2018: Waste Disposal & Pollution (E-Waste)

Photo source (clockwise from top left): U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [here]; Diego Henao [here]; Justin Hoffman, National Geographic [here]; Andrew McConnell, Panos [here].
Pollution. A term which has increasingly become a buzz-word for regular folks since the 1950s. Simply defined, pollution is the process of contaminating land, water, air or other parts of the environment making it unsuitable to inhabit or use. Despite increasing awareness and continuous efforts to reduce it, pollution still happens.

At the turn of the century, advancement of technology as well as industrialization and modernization has resulted in urban communities becoming increasingly dependent on the use of electronics. Devices such as mobile phones, computers and televisions have become such a penetrating part of our lives that the rate of production for such electronic devices has multiplied over the decade or so.

With that, so did the rate of disposal too. What happens then, when you throw out your iPhone or your PC? Quite likely, your electronic waste or “e-waste” as it is called, will be exported to places like Ghana in Africa or Guiyu in China, where untrained workers who lack proper tools dissemble them to extract valuable metals. More often than not, the processes of extraction releases highly toxic substances, polluting the air, water and land. According to Greenpeace.org, “e-waste is routinely exported by developed countries to developing ones, often in violation of the international law.” This is mainly done to avoid the costly process of recycling and reusing of the products.

Burning of e-waste at Agbogbloshie located in Ghana, Africa; Photo source: The Guardian [here].
While it provides a stream of income for the individuals and families who are involved in this industry, lifting them from absolute poverty, researchers have warned that the heavy metals being handled during the dismantling and extraction process could potentially bring about severe health consequences such as nervous system diseases, chest pains and birth defects.

So, let us be mindful when we next consider buying that new phone or laptop!

There are also several movements that are gaining momentum in trying to curb and minimize the creation of waste, such as the Zero Waste Movement. For more details, click on the links in the list of sources down below.


We hope what brief insight provided in the text above will be able to give rise to more awareness on the environmental issues we face as a population. Looking ahead, a call for action is needed to ensure the future of our generations. We encourage youths to be more mindful of their environmental footprint. Tell us what you think we could all do as part of the community to improve and advocate for awareness. What other things should we be mindful of when it comes to environmental protection?

Meanwhile, stay tuned for our next and last post of our 3-part series on environmental issues to look out for in 2018!


  1. https://www.livescience.com/22728-pollution-facts.html
  2. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/burning-truth-behind-e-waste-dump-africa-180957597/
  3. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/detox/electronics/the-e-waste-problem/where-does-e-waste-end-up/
  4. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/4x3emg/inside-the-worlds-biggest-e-waste-dump
  5. https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/toxic-e-waste-dumped-in-poor-nations-says-united-nations
  6. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/09/the-global-cost-of-electronic-waste/502019/
  7. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2015/09/a_photo_gallery_of_an_electronic_wasteland_guiyu_china.html

**On Zero Waste Movement:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/22/zero-waste-millennial-bloggers-trash-greenhouse-gas-emissions
  2. https://www.bustle.com/articles/156442-what-is-the-zero-waste-movement-heres-how-its-participants-are-attempting-to-reduce-waste-as-much

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