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Stop the E-Waste Crisis: Engaging the Technological Generation

Originally appears in the Spring 2010 issue

The room was littered with hundreds of tombstones, all carrying well-known names: Sony, Apple, Dell and Nokia. Their lives had been so short that they were already forgotten. No tears had been shed over them, because, as the old saying goes, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

In 2004, over 183 million computers and 674 million cell phones sold worldwide. Currently, there are over 500 million obsolete computers in the United States alone. Electronic equipment continues to proliferate — and become obsolete — at an ever-increasing rate: the average lifespan of a computer in 1997 was six years, and by 2005 it was only two years.1 Dealing with electronic waste, or e-waste, is rapidly becoming one of the major environmental challenges of our technological generation.

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Kenji O’Brien graduated from Brown University in 2009 and is currently earning his teaching credential from Stanford University. This is is his first contribution to Green Teacher.  He thanks Daniel Bisaccio and Mary Hixon for their support and mentoring throughout the development of this curriculum. To respond to questions or inquire about his two-week curriculum “Stop the E-waste Crisis: Engaging our Technological Generation,” email: