Yesterday afternoon a church member and I excavated to the back of a storeroom in the church. We brought out 3 old computer monitors, a tower, and printer that predate my arrival as pastor. We also found two typwriters. The church now will offer these items for bid, mostly to free up some space. But I got to thinking, what will we do with the computers if no one wants them? btw, we also are offering an old desk if you live near Apache.

This story from CBS demonstrates the danger to the environment caused by the modern electronic technologies we depend on. A CBS 60 Minutes crew followed ditched computers and cell phones from the U.S. to China.

E-waste workers in Guiyu, China, where Pelley's team videotaped, put up with the dangerous conditions for the $8 a day the job pays. They use caustic chemicals and burn the plastic parts to get at the valuable components, often releasing toxins that they not only inhale, but release into the air, the ground and the water. Potable water must now be trucked into Guiyu and scientists have discovered that the city has the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. Pregnancies in Guiyu are six times more likely to result in miscarriages, and seven out of 10 children there have too much lead in their blood.

Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, outlines the e-waste pollutants and their effects. "Lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and polyvinyl chloride, all of these materials have known toxicological effects that range from brain damage, kidney disease, to mutations, cancers," he tells Pelley. And there's no shortage of refuse that contains these hazardous materials. "We throw out about 130,000 computers every day in the United States...we throw out over 100 million cell phones every year," says Hershkowitz.

While filming in China, the 60 Minutes crew was roughed up when a group of men tried to seize their cameras. The crew escaped, though, with their evidence.

Moral of the Story:

1. Almost everything we buy eventually becomes trash. So cut down consumption.
2. Many things we discard are hazardous, so discard properly.
3. When recycling electronics, try to make sure the firm is environmentally responsible.

CBS reports that the Basel Action Network certifies companies that handle electronic waste in a safe manner.

The Electronic Take Back Coalition also lists responsible electronic recyclers.