Reality of Recycling Vs. Mining: By Satellite

Welcome to Mexico.
Here is the view of our "e-waste" facility in Sonora, Mexico (Retroworks de Mexico).

And here, above, a few dozen kilometers away, is the Copper Mine.

OK... LOoK!  This is a woman, Lidia, working at the Recycling operation.

Recycling isn't perfect.  But compare the press over "recycling" toxics in Africa to the coverage of Africa's actual most toxic sites - the mines that the virgin ore for lead, copper, gold, silver - and the mercury, cadmium, and other chemicals that spew out.

The planned obsolescence and mining industry has developed a terminator-spy, an anti-recycling, anti-reuse organization raising environmentalist donations to fight the only alternatives to mining, refining, and disposing... recycling by hand.

They seek to make it a "choice of evils" over the social welfare of people who work in places with high poverty, such as the Sonoran desert, where the women of Retroworks de Mexico live and raise kids.

Now, she's doing this "by hand", which has also been made "suspect" by the new conservative environmentalists.  Is the woman better off getting the amount of copper and gold she's recovering from rock ore at the nearby mine?  Is she putting her grandchildren at risk by participating in the recycling economy?

Ludicrous it is, to compare recycling toxics to mining toxics.  In the USA, hard rock metal mining (gold, silver, copper, lead, etc.) produces 45% of ALL TOXICS released by ALL USA INDUSTRY.  It bankrupted Superfund.  There is absolutely no question on the "recycling hierarchy" about the relative benefits from recycling the metal, as compared to mining and refining the ores from the virgin land.

acid mine drainage, Rio Tinto river
But this small organization in Seattle has absurdly managed to completely make the story about the "toxics" of the recycling process, and to take NRDC and Greenpeace with them down the rabbit hole.  One pill makes waste larger, and one pill makes waste small, and the ones that shredders give you don't do anything at all...

In my next posts, I'll show how they use VOCABULARY to marginalize these recycling workers, how to exoticize the trade, and how to make this woman's job in Mexico appear... to appear...


If BAN actually cared about toxics in this woman's water, they would be as concerned about the copper mining uphill to her west as they are about her "#ewaste" recycilng job.  There are no toxics at all being released by her hand disassembly.  She doesn't set the wires on fire, she doesn't dip the gold chips in aqua regia acids.

She just needs a job.    She either works here, or she works at the mine, or BAN needs to give her another choice, not just say "she shouldn't have to make that choice".

More to follow.  But here's a hint when it comes to finding measurable toxics.  WHICH ONE IS VISIBLE FROM OUTER SPACE???

This is a war waged by socialist-leaning English majors and film students on science and the environment is being caught in the crossfire.   I'm becoming more and more disgusted at how spineless my industry has been about this.


This is perhaps the "rural version" of last Earth Week's post, "Useless Lists of Jobs Beneath Wealthy People" (best post this year, perhaps).  If Americans are going to pick Lidia's job for her, we should do so with care.

It is curious--curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.  Mark Twain in Eruption

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