Thursday, 8 January 2015

Charity Begins at Home

Ever since Sir Bob Geldof and the first Live Aid, Africa is an emotive beacon for charitable endeavours. And rightly so. We should all be happy to help people less fortunate than ourselves. In this day and age to see people starving is simply intolerable, whilst the building of schools, the digging of wells and the provision of medical resources is vital work.

But not computers. Sending our old computers out to Africa may seem like a good idea. Obviously who would want to deprive the people of Africa of Facebook? It must be a good thing to get the millions of Africans connected to the WWW...

Except it isn’t. Not for the planet at any rate.

eReco, like any business serious about sustainability, will not send any electrical equipment to any country or continent that does not have serious a WEEE commitment. Because it will end up in landfill and come back to haunt us. We cannot get away with passing our waste onto someone else who cannot deal with it properly.

So, what do you do instead? It is a question we get asked a lot and there is only one answer. Turn your old assets into cash and give money rather than equipment. That is something a reputable service provider will help you with and we have to spread the word about sustainability. To do that we have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

Obviously once they have the cash, they can buy their own equipment and that could end up in landfill. That would be a shame but we cannot change opinions by shrugging our shoulders and helping people do the wrong things. We all have to make a stand.

I know. I do, honestly, I know. It’s a bit preachy.

This is where I get a tad uncomfortable with the green lobby but fear not, I am not about to chain myself to a tree. But in doing good, I think we should try and make sure that we don’t do harm.

Let me be crystal clear here. I am not saying do not help Africa. Everyone has a right to choose who they help and whatever I think about your charitable donations is an irrelevance. But the WEEE regulations are one of the few European regulations that I personally approve of. We should all be trying to make things from things that can be used is simple commonsense.

And opening up poorer economies to the delights of IT is the first step on sending them down a path we have already followed to rampant consumerism. Sales of gadgets are already growing and they will grow through the proverbial roof. So we need to pass on what we have learned and stop them making the same mistakes we made in the past.

As Einstein said ‘the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. If we do not pass on what we have learned, we are failing those that are slightly behind us on the curve.