Do you know where your e-waste goes?

Image from PBS FRONTLINE/World

Hey readers! Do you live in the Vancouver area? If so, I’d like to invite you to attend the following event that I’ve organized for Green College, the UBC residence at which I currently reside. The guest speaker is a friend and former resident who recently graduated from my J-school program at UBC.

If you can’t make it, you can watch the documentary on this blog. I’ve embedded it into an earlier post. Either way, please check it out! It’s 20 minutes extremely well spent.

Event Details:

Jodie Martinson holds her new Emmy. Photo courtesy JM.

Who: Jodie Martinson, former Green College resident and documentary filmmaker
What: Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground — screening, followed by Q&A
When: Nov. 7th, 2010 at 5:00 p.m.
Where: Green College coach house


Jodie Martinson, a recent graduate from the UBC School of Journalism, has already earned an Emmy for her documentary film work.

She is among the first group of Canadian students to ever win the prestigious award, having beat out established heavyweights like 60 minutes, 48 Hours and Nightline. Under the leadership of Peter Klein, UBC associate professor and former 60 minutes producer, a ten-student troupe crafted an investigative news documentary called “Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground which aired on the PBS documentary series FRONTLINE/World in 2009.

The documentary follows the trail of discarded computers, or e-waste, to three communities in Ghana, China and India. Along the way, the investigative team uncovers serious threats to the environment, public health, human rights and information security.

On November 7th at 5:00 p.m., Martinson will return to Green College, her former home, and talk about the making of the film as well as the issues that inspired it. Please join us for a screening followed by a Q&A, and stay for dinner if you can!

Confessions of a Water Glutton

Priviledged enough to take water for granted?

Priviledged enough to take water for granted?

I’m being painfully literal when I say that I just had a watershed moment. Despite the fact that I take short showers, brush my teeth with the tap off and keep my laundry-doing to a minimum, I am still a water glutton. We all are.

Think of everything those molecules have to go through to become harmless. We are part of an elite few that can access this clean, processed water and take it thoroughly for granted. We stand under a shower head and soak ourselves in better water than most people drink. We turn a knob and let this precious resource free-flow while the less fortunate walk back and forth from contaminated rivers lugging buckets of liquid that would nauseate us. We think: “How is it wasting water if it just goes back into the lake anyway?” not thinking twice about the complex procedure (i.e. time, money, energy, natural resources) involved in making it safe.

Wasting water is a culturally acceptable form of voracity, one that is a little more complicated than it seems. For instance, personal day-to-day usage only accounts for about 3% of our “water footprint”. No, that wasn’t a typo, only %3. The vast majority of the water we suck up is inexorably tied to the choices we are making as consumers.

Some of the homework I’ve done on the topic has produced some counter-intuitive factoids—for instance, the average dishwasher uses less water than doing that same amount by hand. It’s generally more efficient to go to a car wash than to hose ‘er down in your driveway. The making of beer wastes less water than the making of coffee. The topic is pretty damn intriguing, to be frank.

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