In the next decade, environmentalists must learn to drop dogmas as fast as pharmacies pull bad medicine. Good intention buys finite trust.
Not to put too fine a point on it... The self proclaimed "Stewards" have not done much good. They have been too timid to abandon a half truth which brought income. They are human.
|Ms. Vicki pre-electricity|
We needed an investor to give the ladies electricity.
Try to imagine how I felt. I put my damn house on the line, sent reporters, put the Las Chicas Bravas up in my home, made sure it was OECD and legal. I flew people from Mexico to Investors Circle, to meetings with EPA headquarters in Washington, to meet with recyclers at all the big conferences.
BAN did acknowledge that Mexico was OECD, and that reuse is better than recycling. They said they could help, if we make the Chicas an "e-Stewards" Operation. But BAN's offer of help began with the solicitation that we pay them money, coming out of Las Chicas investment, for a copy of the standard we'd have to meet. We had to pay money to see the rules????
We were desperately trying to get electricity to 50 year old women removing screws by hand, we were paying down credit cards from my kids college fund to be able to rent a truck and buy a baler.
At no point in the discussion, over BAN's conditions of support for the investor, or for our eStewards certification, was there any suggestion that Retroworks de Mexico was environmentally questionable. We'd just been in the major media. We had our best shot, we had NPR Living on Earth, Marketplace, PBS, AP, and Sacramento Bee all fresh from touring, saying it was legit. But to even see the rules we'd have to comply with, I'd have to take money away from the Chicas, and also disclose all our partners overseas to the same risk that Samsung Corning endured when BAN protested their glass-to-glass recycling system to the Malaysia EPA.
In retrospect, this was all about BAN's business model. Publish pictures of poor people recycling. Make the people with surpluses feel guilty. Raise millions. How much of that goes to the poor recyclers? In the case of the investor, it was not even their money they had raised... it was about the price of their support for someone else's investment. In the end, all the money to BAN flows one way... in to BAN. Nothing comes out of Seattle, nothing goes to Mexico, or China, or Africa. And they never advocate for an investor, or donor, or surplus property manager, to do otherwise.
How can any environmentalist with a conscience applaud shredders which simply break electronics into smaller pieces to be sorted by hand in overseas markets, and close one eye to superior hand-dis-assembly done by women of God?
The environmental community likes to act like we are one happy family, and it's Thanksgiving... Sometimes you have to have the guts to punch Dad in the mouth if he's hurting your brother's arm on a drunken temper tirade.
BAN acts as if they are drunk on power and publicity. The organization raised millions, and sorry, has done nothing to help the poor overseas... not one DIME of your investment goes to the poor. They allowed themselves to become nothing but an advertising campaign for planned obsolescence in hindsight, shredders to take working product off the market, and in their own words, "hope the poor will leapfrog" into new equipment.
One salary at Basel Action Network would pay the salaries of twenty people in Fronteras Mexico, who would properly and ethically recycle 10 million pounds of old TVs and monitors. But it's a black hole of fund raising, all the money collected by the anti-export watchdogs stays in the USA, there is not a crumb left over for the people whose photos they use to stir sympathy. They wanted more money from Las Chicas, to tell them the rules they'd have to follow.
The anti-export campaign is taking hand disassembly jobs away, taking repair jobs away, and even when all the toxics are accounted for and managed to a degree surpassing USA, they want import permits taken away.
Ayatollahs of e-waste, your decade is over. Fair Trade Recycling is going to succeed with you or without you. You have to get over your sanctimonious demand for complete control. You stated "Basel", so I invested in (OECD) Mexico. It has been 3.5 years, and all we get are apologies that you are too busy when we ask for your help. Then you say you are surprised that the blog is hostile.
Get a real job. Give some of the money you raise to the recyclers you'd have us cry for. Then they'd clean up their operation, and want to keep their real jobs. Duh. You go live over there and tell me it ain't so. Ms. Vicki is more important to me than you are.
Thus marks the end of a 6 month "truce" with Basel Action Network. Several people commented that we had "gone soft" in our protests following the meeting at E-Scrap 2010 in New Orleans. In dropping the negotiation, BAN's director stated he would have to have seen some evidence of reduced criticism in order to respond to emails about the California Compromise. Meanwhile, during that time, BAN admitted to flagging containers in Ohio which were allegedly prepared to BAN refurbishing specifications, and the specific factory which participated in the conference call was contacted (10 days later) by their state DOE. BAN when questioned stated that they didn't do it on purpose but someone else in the (small) non-profit may have independently done it. Then, this month, our own Vermont agency released draft rules which would stop us from finishing our fair trade purchase orders. We have never gotten the terms we'd need to abide by to become "E-Stewards" unless/until we pay for them, but those terms were apparently provided gratis to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources in defining mandatory practices for "e-waste" companies in Vermont. So it's back to this.
All I want to say is that they don't really care about us (the poster children).