I wrote a slightly different version of this poem in 2012 when I was campaigning to change what happens to e-waste. Sadly, it’s still just as relevant today.
However there is some good news. The EU are bringing in ‘Right to Repair’ legislation, which means that it should be much easier to get spare parts and to use them to prolong the life of our electrical goods.
I hope that the printer manufacturers are first in line to be hauled over the coals. I think that they’re one of the worst culprits. I’ve had printers with very little wrong with them that I’ve had to replace. And, sorting out paper jams is still a nightmare with my Epson printer.
Now for the poem. I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Seuss’s books. Green Eggs and Ham, Hortense the Elephant and The Sneetches are just some of his gems. The most environmental one, of course, is The Lorax – “I am the Lorax and I speak for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please’.
The poem below is inspired by Dr. Seuss’s style. I’m sure that if he’d known about e-waste he would have made it one of his themes. Right to repair is a start and should help reduce designed obsolescence. But, we need to set up systems for re-use, repair and recycling in the UK and all over the globe. Do you know where your e-waste is going? Does your company?
At the far end of the world where nobody knows
The sweet smell of burning gets right up your nose
It comes from wires, TVs, computers and other such stuff
That’s been thrown away like pieces of fluff.
They end up in piles – and that’s what’s burning
We don’t give a damn – and we’re not learning
That this is madness. It doesn’t make sense.
How could our society be so dense?
The children are there, wading through the junk
Picking out metals, plastics and all sorts of gunk.
It doesn’t take long if you look around
To see that this stuff shouldn’t be thrown in the ground.
There are toasters, drills, freezers and kettles
Made from plastics, toxics and all sorts of metals
Much of what’s there has hardly been used
Our wasteful society stands accused.
More phones, more printers, more electronic games
Apple, Sony, Kenwood and HP are just some of the names
Many companies are simply encouraging us to buy more and more
Without any thought of the troubles in store.
It’s not just where we put all the waste
Of the things we’ve used – often in haste.
There’s also the impacts of digging up the stuff
When will we say that it’s enough?
We slash down the forests, fowl up the rivers
Often to get just a few tiny slivers.
Whether it’s copper, or gold, or tin
The burning and poisoning is just a sin.
Clear everything away, move on the tribes
Wealthier lifestyles are used as bribes –
Scars on the landscape and piles of rubble
Are the other side of the IT bubble.
Many of these processes are energy-guzzling.
Some wasteful practices can be quite puzzling
Wires and chargers, for example, can be part of the pack
But if you don’t want them you can’t take them back!
If there’s one thing wrong, the product won’t be used
Even if it’s as simple as a wire being fused.
You’ll be told that it’s too expensive to mend
Better to buy a new one – and keep up to trend.
We want more of the same – only a little bit better
In fact, what we want is to be a trendsetter
We buy lots of things that we don’t really need
Fuelled by a system that promotes greed.
But it really doesn’t have to be this way
Not if we stand up and have our say
E-waste legislation has been completely bonkers
It must have been devised by a team of plonkers
I bet you’ve got wires and chargers in drawers
As a result of a system that is full of flaws
This is something that must be changed
If we’re to live in a world that is not deranged.
Challenge companies to sort things out
Let’s join together to give us some clout