The Environmental Impact of Our Tech (And What We Can Do About It)

Knowing the impacts of our buying habits—like getting our hands on the newest, fastest, shiniest smartphone—is the first step to becoming a more mindful consumer.

Adobe Stock/ sb peshkova

When it comes to our tech-immersed world, there are some pretty big questions we don’t often stop to ask.

Like, where do our tablets, smartphones, desktops, laptops, and game consoles come from? The box? The phone store?

Sigh. It’s not good, y’all. For one thing, our tech is made up of different kinds of metals that must be extracted from the earth: iron, aluminum, magnesium, copper, silver, gold, graphite, and lithium, to name just a few. That mining destroys the ecosystem of the mined area and the area around the mining area, not to mention the communities living in those areas. It also requires tremendous amounts of energy to dig up and transport these metals, which releases tremendous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

And then we dump our precious phones into a landfill two years later to get the newest model. (While we’d like to think we recycle them, overall, we don’t.) There’s an endless market for the newest, fastest, shiniest phone, so there’s an endless need for new precious metals, mining, and environmental destruction. (Side note: this is called planned obsolescence, in which companies intentionally make things to be quickly thrown away…