Friday, April 6, 2012

"She doesn't even go here!"

Not that I've ever been a nominee for any sort of superlative, but if I were to be, I can fairly accurately predict that my superlative would be "most likely to randomly snap and kill us all."

Let me explain: I say this because I've had at least half a dozen people suggest this about me, not because I think it's true. If I were to ever snap it would probably just involve a bunch of yelling and dramatic hand gestures--perhaps I'd finally live my dream of tossing a martini into someone's face--but I think climbing up the water tower with an AK47 is a bit of hyperbole on my peers' part. This perception of me has never really bothered me, if only because it's not necessarily inaccurate. In general I'm a pretty chill chick, and yet deep down, like, WAY deep down, I care deeply about a lot of things. I just take great pains to appear as if I don't care about much. So I understand where this impression comes from

A hostess at work recently accused me of being "like...REALLY green" after I explained my hanging onto a cell phone I hated because people die in the Congo for the minerals that make them. My gut instinct was to protest, but this lady clearly doth protested too much, because my response went something like this: "What! Nuh uh! Pffft. I mean, yeah, I care about the plight of civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are impacted by the warlords and militias who control the cobalt and tantalum mines. And sure, I my apartment doesn't have a recycling dumpster so I have to drive to Naperville's recycling center to make sure my stuff gets recycled. But I know you're supposed to take the caps off your water bottles before you throw them into a bin, right? Otherwise they can't compress and they take up more space in the landfill or explode under pressure in a recycling bin..."

I trailed off at that point because the look on the hostess' face was a combination of glazed over, smug "I told you so", and looking frantically for the nearest exit.

The thing is... I really do care about minimizing my impact on the earth, and I really do care about spreading the word about our electronics re: the situation in the Congo. It blows my mind that things like our cell phones, laptops, iPods, and tablets are almost considered disposable, especially our cell phones. Jessica, over at her blog (Faith Permeating Life), challenged readers to consider the difference between merely "raising awareness" and "taking action", and cell phone waste is my "pet" cause. While I do care about the pointless waste of water bottles, the increasing restrictions on women's rights in the US, that Haiti is still far from being rebuilt after their earthquake, that the trade embargo on Cuba is patently unfair, that homosexuality and the life and dignity of the humans who express it is even up for debate, I take the time and effort to try to educate people on their technology. Your micro devices are made from coltan. Coltan comes from the Congo. Warlords run the coltan mines in the Congo. Still. After 10 years of this issue being brought to the international stage. Warlords rape women, kill men, force children into labor, and threaten all of the above against the people who live in the villages with the mines if they don't cooperate. Every cell phone uses coltan and no manufacturer can promise their coltan doesn't originate from a warlord.

Is this our fault? Of course not. Should we feel badly about wanting and using cell phones and laptops? Surely not. But I do think we should make informed choices. Does your cell phone still work? Keep using it. I personally find it irresponsible to purchase a new device every time my inclinations change; I don't want to increase demand for products that are actively harming human life.

 And this is what I try to impart to people: use your cell phone for as long as you can. Think twice, or three times about replacing it. And for the love of God--recycle it when you're done. I usually stay very quiet about this topic until something provokes it, and then you get a passionate rendition of my nationally ranked persuasive speech from '07.


I could have also written this post in the vein that deep down inside I care very deeply about my upcoming wedding and marriage, but try very hard to stay quiet about it until provoked.


  1. guess how much coltan my company has purchased and continues to purchase in the form of high-powered electronic devices as we build out our very large cloud-services platform infrastructure




    still to low

    there you go

    --This depressing factoid has been brought to you by the high-tech industry--

  2. Thank you! Today I have learned something and you also told me what I can do about it. And now I have a justification for the fact that my cell phone is over three years old and I haven't gotten a new one because it works perfectly fine still. (Seriously, why do people need to upgrade constantly? Like all the people selling their iPad 2s? I don't understand it.)

    Also I like to tell people to take the tops off their recycled bottles, but sadly that seems to be a losing battle. Most of the time I am happy when people recycle at all... which is really sad.

    ...I miss Seattle.