Sunshine on "E-Waste" exports

There are finally more rays of sunshine coming through the noise and clatter of "ewaste" protests.

In addition to the two positive NPR stories on TV recycling in Mexico, there has been thoughtful argument posted on blogs, questions about motives (war on refurbishing) of export bans, and some chestnuts unearthed from the New York Times. has a very timely article connecting Dell's "advanced" ban (adding repairable to the list of waste electronics) to a previous NYTimes piece on applying wealthy nations hopes to scavenging jobs in developing countries.

In the New York Times, Op-Ed Columnist Nicholas Kristoff: Where Sweatshops Are a Dream drew several thoughtful comments from people who have lived in developing countries, and who see the wisdom of not interfering with the 'free market' without offering an alternative way to make a living. Kristoff's commentary actually defends even the barest form of scavenging, picking apart metal from plastics. His argument, that adding value through work is an "escalator out of poverty" would be amplified if he actually saw the value added by repair and refurbishment.

Fair Trade is not only possible, it is the best possible solution, and probably the only solution which protects both the environment and improves lives. Through fair trade, we will be better able to advance the case made in WR3A's video, and not throw the babies out with the bathwater. Here is a sharper version, by the way.

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