We are living in the middle of a digital revolution. It’s no secret that technology is taking over every single facet of our lives. Technology has changed everything from our transportation to our communication and the way we conduct business. And the device at the epicenter of our digital dependence? The smartphone. The smartphone has evolved into a device that can do far more than allow humans to communicate with each other. Given the recent advancements in technology, and how much humans rely on their smartphones today, I doubt that we’ll see a decline in smartphone popularity anytime soon.
But is that a good thing? Not necessarily. As demand for smartphones around the world increases, production of these devices increases as well. And the resources used to create a modern smartphone are not infinite. Unfortunately, the methods used to acquire these resources are not always great for the environment. As an advocate for the environment and sustainable practices, I figured I would highlight just a few of the ways that smartphone production hurt the environment.
The most common metals used to create a contemporary smartphone are aluminum, copper and iron. When mining for these resources, the process often leads to the creation of a solid and liquid waste product known as “mine tailings.” These tailings are usually stored in enormous impoundments; unfortunately, several dam breaks and large tailing spills have occurred, causing vast amounts of solid and liquid waste to wreak havoc on our planet. In fact, according to an article from Theconversation.com, a massive dam spill in Brazil led to 19 deaths and the River Doce’s contamination.
Other common metals found in smartphones are gold and tin, primarily used for wires and things of that nature. Gold mining is drastically affecting our planet. Deforestation and cyanide and mercury pollution are two common byproducts of gold mining. The Amazon feels the largest impact in terms of deforestation, and mercury and cyanide pollution typically finds its way into rivers and streams, which can directly impact human health.
Smartphones are as common as cars and televisions; they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But we simply must find a better way to find the resources used to create these smartphones. Our current methods are hurting the planet, and it’s the only one that we have. We must take care of it.