A system should be declared broken when an entire planet and its people have to literally suffer and die in order to keep two dozen people wealthy.
Yet, this is the system we are living in, and those two dozen people aren’t fixing the problem they created. While they have created a whole host of problems, for sure, the one we are talking about today relates to global waste.
According to the World Bank estimates, more than 2 billion tonnes of municipal waste is generated every year. The wealthier you are, the more waste you produce. The irony is, wealthy countries export this waste to poorer countries who haven’t even created that much waste to begin with, and do not have the infrastructure and/or resources to deal with all the garbage coming in from rich, industrialist countries.
So, what do they do? Not much that they can do, actually. The lion’s share of the waste goes into their landfills, rivers, and seas. What can be saved or recycled goes to factories or sites where underprivileged and unprotected children are employed to separate the junk from the rest. This gives rise to child labor, child exploitation, and much worse crimes against children.
Not to mention, the garbage export doesn’t solve much for wealthy countries either. The commute adds to carbon emissions, wastes resources, and before the cycle is completed, folks back home have generated even more garbage than previously.
As you can perhaps appreciate, this is a complicated problem with no easy fixes. But if you can look past the ‘easy’ part and commit to the hard work of ‘fixing’ the problem, there are a whole bunch of activists, supporters, and champions that you can join.
We are listing 10 of them here.
“Activist. Rabble rousing optimist. Social entrepreneur. Global explorer. Politico. Treehugger. @TurningGreenOrg co-founder. Writer. Speaker. Voter. Woman.”
As our Jewish sages teach, “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.” And so on we go, from generation to generation. לדור ודור.
— Erin Schrode (@ErinSchrode) December 22, 2022
Erin Schrode has been championing sustainability and environmental action for years. She first made headlines in 2016 when she ran for U.S. Congress as its youngest elected woman. Though she didn’t win the race, it only fueled her passion for civic engagement and public service.
Since then, she has been a consistent contributor and consultant for Glamour, Cosmopolitan, ABC and more. Publications such as The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Forbes as well as news channels like CNN, NBC, and FOX, continually reach out to her for her social and environmental commentary.
Erin runs Turning Green, her non-profit that engages local teens in an effort to look for an eco-conscious lifestyle, everything from fashion to food, and all else in between.
“Fixing our relationship with electronics. Pro #RighttoRepair. @restartproject @mastodon.green. Founding member of @r2reurope”
Restart Parties and Repair Cafes remind us that repair is possible.
A #FixingFactory makes repair regularly accessible to everyone.
Visit the one in Camden and start thinking about one for your high street! https://t.co/PPN0USLRGN
— The Restart Project (@RestartProject) November 16, 2022
As an e-waste recycling business, we know that one of the reasons the e-waste problem continues to worsen is the fact that electronics come with a ridiculously short lifecycle. When a phone or a laptop becomes burdened with the onslaught of heavy software updates, there is no way to upgrade the hardware or repair the broken parts — you can only do that by buying a newer gadget.
Manufacturers actively restrict access to spare parts, technology, and schematics of how to repair broken electronics. But organizations like The Restart Project are pushing back.
Rehabilitating our relationship with disposable tech, The Restart Project champions the #RighttoRepair, and aims to make repairs accessible and more common. It organizes repair and fix parties to educate consumers on how to repair their broken electronics, extend their life cycles, repurpose them for other uses, and use them with more care in the first place.
“Marine biologist, writer, policy nerd, Brooklyn native. Co-founder @UrbanOceanLab, think tank for the future of coastal cities. In love with climate solutions.”
Thrilled to see @jaineytweets confirmed by the Senate as the Asst. Secretary of Commerce for Oceans & Atmosphere at @NOAA 🎉 — she’s a true expert in climate adaptation & resilience. Jainey, excited to support your work on all things ocean conservation and #OceanJustice!
— Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson 🐙 (@ayanaeliza) January 6, 2023
If you are passionate about community-driven climate solutions and sick of the defeatist attitude around the issue, there’s nobody better than Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson to follow. She’s a passionate climate advocate and uses science, policy, and communication to rally communities around remedying the climate crisis.
She is also the co-founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a nonprofit think-tank, and The All We Can Save Project, a climate initiative that creates a ‘deeper dialogue’ about the climate crisis and engages local communities to find and nurture solutions.
Through her podcast How to Save a Planet, she, along with her co-host Alex Blumberg, fights the pessimism around the problem and uses science, facts, passion, and hope to inspire and energize those who are fighting this battle.
“Activist dedicated to sustainability, equity and justice. Inspiring, educating and empowering you to be the change you wish to see in the world.”
I DID IT!!!
For an entire year I grew and foraged 100% of my food.
Every. Single. Bite.
No grocery stores, no restaurants, not even a drink at a bar.
Nature has been my garden, my pantry and my pharmacy.
I’m incredibly excited to share my story with you:https://t.co/6qmKcQTbVj
— Rob Greenfield (@RobJGreenfield) November 11, 2019
“Living simply so that others may simply live” sounds like a lofty motto to live by. But Rob Greenfield, activist extraordinaire, has turned this into his reality. For a year, he lived only on the food that he grew or foraged. He also lives without a bank account, insurance, or debt. What’s more, he has vowed not to earn more than the federal poverty threshold, and hopes his extreme examples would inspire others to self-reflect and adopt a more sustainable way of living.
Rob is devoted to zero waste, food freedom, and ending food insecurity. He donates all his media earnings to grassroot nonprofits, and regularly holds public speaking engagements to educate and inspire people to consider a more sustainable lifestyle.
“Job Creator & CEO at Retrievr. Brooklyn & LA. Lover of the dance floor, hikes in the hills, great style, great kindness, & innovation.”
— Kabira Stokes (@thekabira) October 28, 2021
Kabira is a fashion-enthusiast-turned-activist with a few stops in the middle. She worked in a city council president’s office, started summer programs that reduced the gang activity in the neighborhoods, and launched an e-waste business that employs formerly-incarcerated members of the public.
Through this initiative, Kabira not only makes second chances more accessible to wasted electronics, but a far more valuable asset, human potential and communities, too.
She is vocal on subjects like electronic waste, infrastructure, social justice, and care jobs. If you are looking to follow an angry activist with proven climate solutions on her resume, you’ve found your captain.
“Anishinaabe-Kwe from Wiikwemkoong, Manitoulin Island Chief Water Commissioner Anishinabek Nation”
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When toxic waste leaches from old electronics thrown into landfills, it eventually finds its way into our soil and water. With many international communities already facing a water crisis, it becomes even more important to repair our relationship with electronics.
Autumn Peltier is an Indigenous activist from Canada who has dedicated her life to the fight for water rights for Indigenous people. She has been at it since she was 12 years old and is a multiple-award nominee celebrating her work and passion. Known as the ‘Water Warrior’, she speaks at events, gathers protests, and isn’t afraid to confront powerful men when they make leadership choices that she doesn’t agree with.
“low waste – with kids – in the suburbs writer | educator | consultant”
All things holiday-related are up for examination when you decide to shift to a #lowwaste lifestyle, and Christmas trees are no exception. So what option is the most #ecofriendly? The answer might surprise you! https://t.co/VdQ6Mu1Org
— Sarah Robertson-Barnes (@sustainablesrb) December 6, 2021
The climate fight is being battled at many fronts. If the more aggressive examples we have shared so far seem a bit overwhelming to you, Sarah Robertson-Barnes is an environmental influencer you can follow to learn sustainable living one step at a time.
Sarah is a suburban parent who navigates conscious and intentional living with her family. She supports a low-waste way of life and you can find her on her Instagram feed championing simple sustainability through reusing, repurposing, and recycling stuff.
“Love For Jehovah And Family || Fitness Trainer || Entrepreneur || Activist || Problem-Oriented || Founder @AppCyclers”
#Ewaste is the second largest waste generated stream in the world. Which demands an immediate and extra attention to be paid. @AppCyclers see an opportunity in here and has been providing innovative solutions and services to mitigate this. Watch this! https://t.co/z4LgGODvA3 pic.twitter.com/qsSIwVjT9j
— agudor agabas (@kwakuAgabas) November 20, 2022
Aguador Agabas is an environmental activist from Ghana who has made it his life’s mission to rid his country of the toxic electronic waste it produces and the one that it receives from western countries as a dumping ground.
Through his entrepreneurial initiative, AppCyclers, he educates the community about responsible use of electronics, how to repair when devices get broken, and where to donate old electronics that you no longer need.
As a responsible e-waste activist, he is also heavily invested in educating people about the perils of cyber security breaches when we throw our stuff heedlessly in the trash without properly destroying our data.
On Twitter he dedicates his feed to talking about using waste as a resource, the importance of electronics donation drives, and empowering Africa through the route of a circular economy.
“Sustainability & ESG Services @deloitte. Views expressed are my own.”
Thanks to Mike Cohn of Accounting Today for discussing our recent Sustainability Action Report and the preparations companies are making to meet increased ESG disclosure requirements. The time to prepare is now! Great to see @KBSu…https://t.co/mM3Vl26y8k https://t.co/E2bhAJJkRQ
— Lee Ballin (@Lee_Ballin) December 7, 2022
Having grassroot mobility to fight the climate crisis is critical. But equally vital is the engagement of top-tier executives from billion-dollar companies towards this discourse. Lee Ballin, as the Managing Director for ESG and sustainability at Deloitte is perfectly positioned to do just that. He routinely takes to Twitter to tell us how non-financial indicators are swiftly becoming key value drivers for big businesses.
As sustainability becomes increasingly more important to consumers, people like Lee Ballin are influential in getting that sentiment across to C-Suites and fancy boardrooms to the people who can actually cut down on gas emissions, end a culture of obsolescence, and put in the money that’s needed to repair the planet.
“Weekly online panels & interviews on waste & circular economy. Subscribe to newsletter http://eepurl.com/B_brf”
@bewastewise webinar of the month will highlight challenges in the C&D waste management sector and a need for robust design systems for C&D waste material recovery.
Date: Tuesday, Jan 17,2023
Time: 11.30 AM UTC / 05 PM IST
— be Waste Wise (@bewastewise) January 9, 2023
Wouldn’t it be grand if you could follow a single channel to listen to dozens of environmental activists talking about all they are doing to make the future of Earth more prosperous?
This is the channel that you’ve been looking for. Be Waste Wise regularly invites people over for interviews and takes on global climate issues. The topics most hotly debated on these panels and interviews range from waste management, effects of greenwashing, waste material recovery, sustainable supply chain issues, recovery of critical minerals from e-waste, and more.
To be part of a collective space for waste warriors, this is the group to start with.
It is beyond doubt that our relationship with electronics and other things we use have become a toxic one. Due to a number of reasons, we are unable to find responsible ways of using stuff, unable to fix what we break, and unable to responsibly get rid of the stuff that we no longer need.
Fighting this many-headed dragon from all sides are our waste warriors, environmental activists, and treehuggers. They are leading the charge, educating the masses, presenting actionable and proven solutions, and forcing the rich and the powerful to take heed and make change.
It’s not an easy fight, sure, but as HSAP says, “Earthlings, we’ve got work to do”. So, let’s not waste anymore time thinking about it, and join the foray already.