The Heap

An E-Waste Story

"The Story of Stuff", a short video created by Annie Leonard detailing conspicuous consumption and its impact on the waste stream, made quite an impression when it went viral last year. An identically titled bestselling book followed. Now Leonard is back with "The Story of Electronics". As you might have guessed, this time she's targeted the inconvenient truths of e-waste.

While Leonard makes some excellent points about takeback programs, reverse manufacturing, and keeping e-waste within our borders, and The Heap agrees with the crucial goal of manufacturing electronics responsibly and sustainably, it's hard not to see parts of her argument as an oversimplification of the challenge posed by e-waste. One point she conveniently overlooks -- and it's a big one -- is that electronics manufacturers' primary goal is to make money. So while it would be nice for consumers if electronics were made to last decades with only minor repairs or upgrades, that would make it extremely difficult for these companies to survive, much less turn a profit. It would also stymie the research and development that took us from transistor radios to MP3 players.

What do you think about "The Story of Electronics" and the problem of e-waste?