Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How Green was My Library?

Moving from print to online resources makes a huge amount of sense for a whole host of reasons, from usage to accessibility, but one reason I've always quibbled with is that going online makes better environmental sense.

Does it really? I think the jury's still way out on that. Because while paper manufacture and recycling is at least pretty well understood, the disposal of obsolete electronics--from the computers made available for patrons to access resources, to the servers that enable that access--is a great big ball of ugly (that's a technical term, of course).

Today's Washington Post has an article that is just the latest in a series of recent scathing indictments of how electronic waste is dealt with. The news of note here is that the Government Accountability Office is reporting on all the ways that the EPA is failing to deal with the problem. Much electronic waste--computers, cell phones, and all the other devices increasingly indispensable to daily life--is shipped overseas, where it's disassembled and recycled under appalling conditions.

My personal favorite bit is the note that 43 U.S. recyclers have flat-out lied about how they dispose of electronic waste.

Read the report here.

In other depressing news, the North Pole is ever closer to having no ice.

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