Kevin McElvany is a beautiful photographer. Which makes the images of Agbogbloshie that he captured all the more horrific and haunting. Agbogbloshie is an e-waste site in Ghana, Africa. Actually, site is too nice a word for it – it’s a dump.
The residents of Agbogbloshie are so poor that they have no choice but to spend each day going through the site, looking for working parts or parts they can trade for money, food or anything else they can get their hands on. Unfortunately, one of the prized possessions of this dump is copper. And to get copper out of the waste you need to burn the sheathed cables which contain significant amounts of lead and therefore the burning is obviously not ideal for health or environment.
The majority of those living in Agbogbloshie are aged under 30 and are generally suffering significant adverse health effects for living in the area. As Kevin states “some of them have red eyes, shake themselves all the time, could not concentrate, scratch themselves and seem restless. Same happened to me after a few hours…because electronic devices are full of highly toxic chemicals and some unsuspected kids just inhale or touch them.”
Agbogbloshie is rated by worstpolluted.org as one of the top ten toxic threats in 2013. It is a place of unremitting injustice and a testament to the thoughtless consumer driven age we live in.
I’m a realist – I have an iphone, I use a digital camera and I’m typing this on my laptop. It’s totally unrealistic for us to give away technology to stop this from happening. But it is possible for us to be aware of what we’re doing to our third world friends and be mindful about where our waste is going.
If you type into google “electronic recycling (insert your city or town)”, you will find that there are so many places you can send your technology to that will minimise the risk of these toxic, non-biodegradable, recyclable products ending up in third world countries making children sick.
Tiny Change for the Day: Watch this video and then research your options for electronic waste so when you upgrade your phone/laptop/tv you can help the earth a little bit.