Today’s Solutions: October 22, 2021

Ranjana Mitra founded Share-IT, which keeps used computers out of the waste stream by refurbishing them and donating them to poor families. Launched in Toronto in 2004, Share-IT has so far given away more than 75 complete computer systems and kept 23,000 pounds of electronic waste out of landfills, where components can leach mercury, lead and other toxins into the environment. At the end of its lifespan, equipment returns to Share-IT for safe recycling or disposal. Mitra grew up in Calcutta, India, where she watched her grandmother collect scrap metal and other reusables.

Kim Ridley | March 2006 issue

What happens when we trash our computers?
Mitra: “They end up in landfills, often in developing countries, where pickers, mostly women and children, separate out recyclable materials. They use a hammer to break open monitors, immediately exposing themselves to lead and phosphorous dust, which are deadly and damage the neurological system and the reproductive system. This is what really scared me.”

How did you find a solution?
“I was doing public-policy research on electronic waste, and also mentoring new immigrants when I found that so many people don’t have access to a computer. That’s when I came up with the vision of keeping computers out of the waste stream by reusing the technology in the local community.”

What happens when you give a person a computer?
“You can raise economic well being, because people can be more productive, build skills, work on their resumes and find jobs. And kids can better do their homework. In the big picture, as individuals thrive, so does the community.”

More information: www.communityenvironment.org

Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Algae wrapped in droplets improves efficiency of artificial photosynthesis

In our quest for the most sustainable, most renewable sources of energy, humanity continues to look to nature for inspiration. One of nature’s most efficient energy systems is photosynthesis, which is how plants convert sunlight, ... Read More

Evidence shows Vikings arrived in Americas nearly 500 years before Columbus

Researchers have known for a while that Vikings from Greenland founded the village of L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around the turn of the millennium, but now, a study published in Nature has finally pinpointed ... Read More

Egypt’s State Council swears-in the nation’s first female judges

Egypt’s State Council was established in 1946 and is an independent judicial body that deals with administrative disputes, disciplinary cases, appeals, reviews draft laws, decisions, and contracts that involve the government or a government-run body. ... Read More

Is group or individual work more productive? Here’s what science says

Are you a group project person or do you prefer to fly solo? We all have our work preferences, but what does science say about teamwork and productivity? A new study conducted by Quartz aims ... Read More

Wildlife filmaker provides a unique insight into the daily lives of bees

You may have seen bees flying around your backyard or local park, but it can be difficult for the naked human eye to grasp the full complexity of the lives of these pollinators. During the ... Read More