Electronics ‘designed for the dump,’ says new movie

November 9, 2010
USA Today

Are you tempted every year or two to get a new cell phone? Do your kids demand it? Like many consumer products, electronics are meant to be obsolete quickly — “designed for the dump,” says a new 8-minute animated movie hosted by Annie Leonard, creator of the hit video The Story of Stuff.

As the holiday season approaches, The Story of Electronics looks at the environmental costs of throwaway gadgets and urges consumers to demand less toxic, more easily recyclable and longer lasting products. Its website offers tips on safer products and responsible recyclers.

“If we can figure out how to make an iPhone remember where you parked your car, then we can figure out how to make electronics that aren’t filled with toxic chemicals and en route to the trash can just months after we buy them,” says Leonard, director of The Story of Stuff Project.

“Most of our electronics are laden with problematic substances like lead, mercury, PVC, and brominated flame retardants so when they break it’s not just a bummer, it’s a global toxic issue,” says Ted Smith, chairman of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, which co-produced the movie. ”

The Story of Electronics is the fourth in a series that The Story of Stuff Project has released in the past year with Free Range Studios and more than a dozen environmental groups. Its previous ones—The Story of Cap & Trade (December 2009), The Story of Bottled Water (March 2010) and The Story of Cosmetics (July 2010)— have collectively been viewed more than 2.2 million times since their releases.