What I wish I knew six years ago about electronic waste, and why is it still a problem now?

Dear 2014 Greta,

Dear 2014 Greta,

Nice to meet you, this is future 2020 Greta. You are about a year away from graduating high school, probably started looking at universities and colleges, what an exciting and pivotal time that was! Would you believe me if I told you 2020 Greta is writing this from her house, working from home for Alternatives Journal (a super cool magazine started by a bunch of hippies), and just wrapping up her master’s degree amid a global pandemic? Yeah, I still have a hard time believing it myself too. I also can’t believe is how electronic waste is still a problem, it’s been 6 years after Control-Act-Delete by Christian Beaudrie was published, outlining the growing problem of e-waste, and how it turned Africa into the dumping ground from our insatiable desire to keep up with the latest models of technology.

Source: Pintrest

Now I know you may be feeling a little guilty as you’re holding your latest iPhone, but just imagine how many more phones Greta went through in the past 6 years (I’d say about 3, maybe 4). Now this may not seem like much, but imagine this on a grand scale of a world filled with billions of people thinking the same. I’m not saying to retire the phone and start living life in the stone ages by writing feather and ink letters to friends, but I just hope that you take the time to slow down on upgrading models of your electronics, just wait till they actually break (a little secret from me to you, they’re all realistically the same thing!). If you do need to purchase new, either recycle your electronic waste at the right facility, or downcycle your electronics (maybe mom, or grandma needs some tech so skip buying new and give your older models to others).

Six years later, this is still a problem and will continue to be a problem due to the world being driven by consumerism. Many components of electronic waste can be successfully recycled, and there is no excuse why it should not be. Now, to reflect on some positive changes from this, many electronic retailers (Ex/ Apple) are offering incentives and money off new models by bringing in your old ones, this provides a value to recycling and has mutual benefits for both parties. I see it as a step in the right direction, we shall reflect another six years from now and see the situation about e-waste, hopefully there is a magic solution somewhere out there to eradicate e-waste, until then we can only wait and try to do better. 

P.S – Don’t worry too much, yes you will get into university, yes life has a peculiar way of working itself out, and please rip the band-aid and break up with him already. No, you will not get married to your high school sweetheart. OH, and you will be studying environment and climate change…so toughen up as it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows.


Greta Vaivadaite is a Journalist, Online Editorial and Social Media Coordinator at Alternatives Media. Greta has completed her undergraduate studies at York University in Environmental Management, and completed her Masters of Environment and Sustainability at Western University in 2020. Her professional interests lay in advocating for environmental education, sustainable fashion, and a greener travel industry.