Today’s Solutions: March 29, 2023

The leaders of the world’s leading democracies who attended the G7 Summit in Cornwall last month were welcomed by a statement art installation called “Mount Recyclemore.” The piece featured the likeness of each of the seven world leaders in attendance, all made from discarded electronics. To create it, artist Joe Rush, who is well-known for his art pieces that focus on environmental issues, meticulously put together two metric tons of e-waste over a period of six weeks. Visitors could view the temporary installation at Sandy Acres Beach until June 13, 2021.

Rush created “Mount Recyclemore” in collaboration with Decluttr, a US-based tech company that focuses on buying, renting, and recycling technology (like your smartphone) in sustainable ways. The team’s aim was to raise awareness and encourage discussion about electronic waste, which is a gigantic yet lesser-known problem in all the G7 nations (UK, US, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, and Italy). In fact, all these nations combined generate a shocking 15.9 million metric tons of e-waste every year, yet Decluttr’s research reveals that over 50 percent of American’s have no idea what e-waste is, and 67 percent aren’t aware that tech waste is the most rapidly growing waste stream in the world.

According to a press release, “One in three Americans, or nearly 70 million people across the country, incorrectly assume that the proper way to dispose of electronics is via their home recycling or garbage can,” and a whopping 91 percent of Americans have unused devices lying around their homes.

If we continue to improperly handle their electronics, then e-waste “often ends up in landfills or unauthorized dump sites and poses serious environmental risks to our world,” Liam Howley, CMO of Decluttr explains. “Moreover, discarding e-waste means the precious materials contained in tech products can’t be reused and more primary raw materials are extracted and refined to produce new tech, which increases greenhouse gas emissions.”

Steve Oliver, founder and CEO of Decluttr, believes that education and awareness is the solution. “We need to… empower people to make changes today. People can support a more sustainable, circular economy, by doing something as simple as trading in or recycling their tech, which will extend the life of those devices and their parts,” he declares.

To help protect the planet and reduce our individual e-waste, Howley suggests that we repair, resell, and recycle our unused products and intentionally buy refurbished technology instead of brand-new products. Decluttr refurbishes 95 percent of the products it buys from customers.

The spokesperson for the “Mount Recyclemore” installation is happy to report to Treehugger that the sculpture “got a lot of buzz on Twitter and tons of people stopped to visit [it] on the beach and take pictures.” Rush and Oliver were also interviewed, so it seems like their art was successful in generating conversation about the pressing issue of e-waste. Hopefully “Mount Recyclemore” also has a lasting effect on the G7 leaders and encourages them to continue the conversation sparked by this piece in their own nations and take part in immediate action to fight e-waste.

Source Image: Decluttr

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