Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Service Reflection #2

Today, I went to Open Doors Academy with my service group. I worked with DiAndre (Turns out I was spelling it wrong. Oops.) and Jaelyn again, and they were working on individual projects about Native American tribes. They seemed to have a handle on it so I wasn't much help. The boys don't know how to take notes; They simply copy everything from the website word for word in their notes, so I was trying to point out key words and phrases that they'd want to make notes of. They had a friend with them that was also working that obviously did not like my presence-- not that I can really blame him. I must seem pretty unfamiliar.

I'm feeling slightly underutilized. Everyone gets their homework done prior to the time we get there. I sit awkwardly and don't really know how to act or what to do. I feel like I'm one of the only people in my group actually trying though. I turned around, and three of the five of us were just sitting around talking to each other. One girl was helping with a kid's homework, our driver was doing the same, and then I was trying to help with the boys' projects. I wish I could be of more use. When taking part in an activity like this, I need to keep occupied. I hate doing nothing. I feel like I need to find a way to be more involved.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Service #1 Reflection

     On Wednesday, September 19th, I went to Open Doors Academy at Miles Park. There, I met two eighth grade boys, Jaelyn and De'Andre. Jaelyn really enjoys art but seemed a bit withdrawn, whereas De'Andre loves reading and talked for the entire time I was there. Both boys had finished their homework, so I tried to give the two a little bit of enrichment. Jaelyn was hesitant so I kept my distance. De'Andre wanted to learn about volcanoes, so we looked up mud bowls and watched videos showing them. De'Andre had to leave about fifteen minutes before I left, but Jaelyn took his place and we continued to watch videos.
     Both boys told me they want to join the military; De'Andre wants to go into the Army, and Jaelyn wants to go into the Navy. De'Andre said he wants to fight for this country, and I felt that he was truly the embodiment of American pride. Most of Jaelyn's family has been in the military, so he wants to follow in the footsteps of his relatives.

     I was really taken aback by these boys. They are both so intelligent and inspiring. Jaelyn's hesitancy worries me; he seemed troubled. I don't know what kind of life he has lived, and what he has seen. I know both boys have a completely different background than me, and that I am very privileged in comparison to them. I got to know more about De'Andre, and he is so open and honest. He loves traveling and being with his family. I am interested to know more about Jaelyn. I hope he comes to open up more. He asked if I would be there every Wednesday, and when I told him I would be for the next couple months, he seemed a little happy by that, which is a relief for me. Truthfully, I don't know how to mentor these boys. They lead such a different life than I have, but for the first day, I think it was a success.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

eDump Calculator


When I took the quiz based upon my lifestyle, it calculated that I would use 3.8 earths. I don't eat a lot of meat, I recycle the vast majority of recyclable items, and since I'm allergic to certain preservatives, I can't eat a lot of processed foods. However, I do travel a fair bit and not a lot of the food I eat is grown locally, so that hurt my calculation.

I legitimately cannot get the calculation to equal one earth. I set everything to the most ecologically-friendly value possible and it calculated that to do so would use 2.9 earths. A lifestyle that excludes eating meat, traveling by car or bus, and even electricity still uses 2.9 earths.
I find this really disturbing. It says a lot about what is really wrong with our planet. There's a lot of e-waste that is unaccounted for, and it is harming our planet. Even by living the "greenest" lifestyle possible, we can't change that.

 We were then asked to compare the documentary "eDump" to "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" in the following ways:

Technology Users in the United States = Citizens of Omelas
Guiyu, China   = The child in the closet
Watching the 20 minute documentary, e Dump = Seeing the child in the closet in Omelas

I believe all of these are fair comparisons. Every person in our class was instructed to watch the eDump documentary, thus we are the people seeing the child in the closet. Despite the fact that it was not a "first-hand" sight because we were seeing it through a video, I don't believe it is any different than the citizens of Omelas seeing the child in the closet. The images provided for us were clear. The testimonies of the people in Guiyu, China, were clear. Thick golden fumes rising up from burning circuit boards is a clear enough image of how toxic the eWaste is. As technology users in the United States, I would definitely agree that we are a mirrored image of the citizens of Omelas. We buy technology and dispose of it within a few years. Apple comes out with a new iPhone within a year of the last one that was produced. We totally ignore the consequences of this: our eWaste gets shipped over to Guiyu to be de-manufactured in a hazardous manner. Guiyu is the child in the closet, obviously, because it is the city that suffers due to our eWaste. The citizens have to breathe in toxic air and have years cut off of their life.

I don't believe I "walk away" from digital technology entirely, but I do have my faults. I did not own a cell phone until the Summer of 2012, thus I cannot say that I have tossed out a phone just to get an upgrade. When it comes to computers, I acquired my first personal computer when I was 13 years old, and it died a slow death where it emitted carbon monoxide and burst into flames. Thus, there was really nothing I could do about it. I had to dispose of it, and I bought a new laptop for college, which is the one I use now. My faults lie in that I've remained ignorant to the consequences of the irresponsible disposal of eWaste. I suppose my action today in the story would be to spread awareness of "the child" that is the harm done to developing countries due to the exportation of American eWaste. Promoting green recycling plants and green technology companies on social media sites would definitely be my method. I would also spread the eDump documentary on Facebook and Tumblr as well to spread awareness. I would not want to be one of the two options given in the Omelas story. I would neither want to move on with my life as per normal, or remove myself from the situation. I would want to be a third option: someone who takes action.

Friday, September 14, 2012



1.      Where/How is it mined? Is it regulated?
a.       Over 95% is obtained by mining minerals containing between 0.3-1.5% beryllium. In the USA it’s mined out of Utah, where it is found close to the surface and can be extracted safely. The earth that is removed for mining is safely restored to the same location. GPS allows for accuracy within 1”. A small portion of beryllium is found in Brazil, Argentina, and other South American Countries. It is found when emerald gemstones are mined.  ( A higher percentage of beryllium is found in the earth.; However, there is less of it in the earth than there is in the United States 25 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have their own OSHA-approved state plans and standards for regulation.
2.      What are the human health concerns when it is used to manufacture consumer electronics?
a.       As a carcinogen, beryllium can cause lung cancer. The main concern associated with it is the inhalation of dust, fume, or mist. Through this, Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD) can develop, which causes harm to the lung. It an also cause a skin disease that causes poor wound healing and wart-like breakouts. (
3.      What documented health impacts are associated with its de-manufacturing?
a.       It can cause more lung and skin disease in those who melt it down than those who simply mine it. (
The main effect of the de-manufacturing of beryllium is CBD. It causes coughing, difficulty breathing, chest and joint pain, weight lost, and fever. (,
Another illness that results from the de-manufacturing of beryllium is Acute Beryllium Disease (ABD). It's far more rare than CBD but it still exists. Its symptoms are similar to pneumonia or bronchitis and is viewed as a more extreme version of CBD. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Afterlife of Cellphones Blog

1. Discuss the author’s view of cellphone hell, purgatory and heaven.

The melting down of metals that releases toxic chemicals like mercury and chromium that harm the people disposing of the phone embodies the idea of cell phone hell. The author relates the immoral demanufacturing of cell phones to hell by describing phones being melted down, "...burning furiously at 2,116 degrees Fahrenheit..." The author continues to describe the fact that making one cell phone generates more waste than actual material for the phone, as described in question number two. Then, more waste is created when the phone is melted down for metals and toxins are released into the air, making the area a miserable place to exist.

As for purgatory, the author relates it to the middle-ground of cell phone recycling. It is neither keeping an old phone nor carelessly disposing of one. It is giving or selling it to a vendor to resell secondhand. However, not all of them can be reused, so the companies must pay extra money to have them safely recycled. The article states that "In 2005, BAN found 500 shipping containers of electronics arriving in Lagos each month." So, despite the fact that there is this middle-ground, it still has its downfalls in contributing to  "cellphone hell".  Seth Heine, founder of the cell phone recycling company Creative Good, explained that "if a phone gets three or four more lives, 'it’s absolutely better for the environment than having to make three or four more phones — phones that wouldn’t be recycled, either.'"

The author concludes the article by saying "There is no heaven for cellphones." This is a very true statement. There is no way to safely recycle all of the technologies we have today, and there never will be unless companies learn to make safer, ecologically friendly technology. Until then, people will continue to be made ill from toxic chemicals in phones, and it will keep building and building until there is never any hope.

2.How many pounds of waste are generated to mine the gold for a single mobile phone?

According to the article, "Earthworks estimates that mining the gold needed for the circuit board of a single mobile phone generates 220 pounds of waste."

3. Why did you replace your last phone?  What did you do with the phone you replaced?  How about your last computer or tv?  Will you do anything different the next time you replace an electronic device?  Why/why not?

I did not own a cell phone prior to owning the one I received from my parents in May of 2012, so I have no answer to contribute. As for my last computer, I shamefully just threw it away because I had used it for so long, it was basically un-fixable when it crashed. Next time, I will find a legitimately safe recycling plant (aka e-Stewards) to dispose of my unusable technology because I don't want people in third-world countries to be harmed by the chemicals that are released into the air when metals are melted down. I hate the idea that the US isn't taking a lot of responsibility in its own recycling of technologies, and I believe that there should be far more green recycling plants in the country.

Monday, September 10, 2012

E-Waste FYS P.1

E-Waste Questions

1. The Basel Action Network is an organization that strives to reduce environmental injustice and economic insufficiencies brought on by toxic trade. They are the main source for information on e-waste for journalists, as well as everyone else.
  • E-Waste Stewardship Project-Exports E-Waste to safe recycling plants. 
  • Green Shipbreaking- Ensures proper disposal of E-Waste in the U.S.
  • Zero Mercury Campaign- Working toward a ban on the use of Mercury.
  • Basel Ban Ratification- Move to Ratify the Basel Ban on illegal disposal of hazardous E-Waste

2. (Where is the closest e-Stewards Recyclers?) e-Cycle LLC: 4105 Leap Road, Hilliard, Ohio, 43026

3. (Besides the US, what countries have the status of "signature"?) Afghanistan, Haiti. It means that these countries have signed the original treaty but have not approved the ratification.

4. (In Puckett's Article, what are the 4 R's?) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and RESPONSIBILITY. My part in this would be A. Using my technology for as long as humanly possible, until it is unusable,  B. Finding legitimately safe ways to recycle what technology I must get rid of, and C. finding greener technology to use.

5. When e-waste is exported, it is cheaper financially to send it to third-world countries rather than handling it safely ourselves. Costs not taken into account are health and environmental wellbeing. The environments that e-waste is "demanufactured" in are terrible. It is not a safe place to live at all, yet, thousands of people are forced to. As for health, breathing in or ingesting all of the hazardous chemicals and pollutants such as cadmium and mercury kills people, yet, most people don't think much about that.

6. I went to Cuyahoga Falls High School, so I spent 4 years hearing about the Cuyahoga River and how it was so polluted, it caught on fire. I was 15 years old when I first heard that, and it utterly disgusted me. I don't understand how people can be so careless in disposing of their things. As for the overall area of Ohio, I'm disturbed that we have 102 advisories. That is outrageous. I don't understand it and I can't pretend to. Richfield is under a boil alert, and there's lead in the water in surrounding areas. That's just really disturbing.

7. Since I am not in Dr. Seiter's division of this class, I am unsure of what the "Perils of Indifference" discussion is. However, relating these articles back to "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas", they are practically one in the same. Most people choose to ignore that they can responsibly dispose of their technology or prevent having to do so. They choose to just toss old electronics away and go about their lives, much like the people who live in Omelas without helping the child. They focus on the betterment of their own lives.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Response to "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas"

For an assignment, my FYS class was told to read Ursula K. Le Guin's short story, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas".

We were first told to answer the following questions:

a.)    This is an unusual short story in that it has no named characters and no action takes place during the story. The setting, is described in interesting detail, but the reader is invited to imagine a completely different setting if they choose.  Why do you think the author took this approach in telling the story?  Explain your answer.
b.)    Despite the nuanced details provided for the setting, the author offers very little explanation for how this situation came about, why it works this way or what the consequences of violation are.  How does this ambiguity impact your response to the story?
c.)    Is it morally wrong to live in Omelas?  Give your reasons for your answer.
d.)   Is it morally wrong to walk away from Omelas? Give your reasons for your answer.

My responses are as follows:

A.    It seems as if the author took the approach of vaguely describing the setting and actions of the characters because it allows the reader to shape his or her own viewpoint on both entities. The story revolves around the idea that everyone in the town of Omelas lives without ever being subjected to any sort of horror, with the exception of viewing a small child who lives alone in constant fear. The story invokes a desire for social justice in the reader, which is somewhat subjective to every individual. It has the same core values, such as promoting human rights, equality, and helping those who are not prospering in life, but different people have different circumstances to which they would apply such values. I believe that the author wrote this story for this reason; anyone from any walk of life can relate this story to their beliefs.
B.     The lack of knowledge of what caused the situation in “The Ones Who Walk Away from the Omelas” really does not impact my response to this story. In my opinion, it does not matter what caused an innocent child to be locked away for others to view. It does not matter why a child living in misery is used as an example of why people must ignore any possibly misfortune just to go on living their lives. Either way, it is despicable.  It seems to me that the author wrote the story in this manner because the reasons behind the child’s condition are not meant to be the focus of the story. Instead, the focus is meant to be the idea that all of the citizens of Omelas choose to ignore the misfortune in front of them as opposed to helping to greatly improve the situation.
C.     (see below; the answers are combined)
D.    I believe it is immoral to live in Omelas. The citizens live in what they choose to believe is a perfect world, without despair or sorrow. In reality, when each person comes of age, they are subjected to viewing a small child that lives in constant misery. About it, the narrator says, “perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect”. The child is the one individual in Omelas who lives without happiness, yet no one chooses to help it. Rather, most simply accept that, if anything were to change, the “…beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed”. On the other hand, those who cannot accept the idea simply “go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas…”. Leaving Omelas, like living there, I find immoral as well. Both actions require complete ignorance of the fact that in the town there is a young child who is suffering. The townspeople choose to believe that helping this one, lonely child would destroy the happiness they have in Omelas, so they go on with their lives in one form or another. I find this intolerable because they have no proof that this would cause them to live in despair. They have no evidence that sorrow would be the outcome. The citizens of Omela opt to adapt the “ignorance is bliss” attitude, which is, in my opinion, utterly unacceptable and thus, immoral.

We were then asked to write three "thoughtful questions" and answer them in response to the short story. In addition, one of the questions had to involve our own personal definitions of social justice. These are mine:

1.      According to your definition, do you believe that the citizens of Omelas had their own system of social justice?
a.       My definition of social justice reads as such: “Social Justice: Going about the act of advocating equality among people, human rights, as well as providing service in order to assist and improve the lives of individuals living without prosperity.” Where the last part of my definition is concerned, it does not apply to this story. There is no question that the citizens of Omelas do not provide service to those who need it. They have all seen the fearful child, yet choose to ignore it. They never help, but continue to live as if they have never seen it. As far as the second condition of advocating human rights, I believe that it also does not apply, for the exact same reason as stated previously. The child has no rights. The child is forced to live in torment by no fault of its own. Where I differ, however, is the subject of equality. While there is no question that it does not exist where the child is concerned, the rest of the citizens are viewed as equals. There is seemingly no difference in social class. Every citizen of Omelas is made to see the child, regardless any economic or social status. Everyone, other than the child, is viewed as equal. This makes me wonder if they do have their own version of social justice. While it greatly varies from my definition, it does not mean that the citizens of Omelas of do not possess their own concept of social justice.
2.      How would keeping the child engulfed in sorrow keep the citizens of Omelas happy?
a.       Ignorance is the only thing that allows the townspeople of Omelas to be content. They are all forced to see what a blatant need for help is. As far as the reader knows, there is nothing keeping people from improving the life of the child in the closet. Most of the people feel some sort of emotion about the child’s situation, but it is only temporary; within a few weeks they have all decided to forget about the child and move on with their lives in some way. What I wonder is this: does ignorance truly bring happiness? Does the child’s life eat away at the conscious of anyone in Omelas? We know it does for the people who leave; however, it doesn’t cause them to stay to help. Instead, they walk away in fear. Past that, we know nothing of their lives, only that they put their individual wellbeing above that of an innocent individual.
3.      Is Omelas a dystopia? Utopia? Explain.
a.       I believe Omelas is a dystopia. In a utopia, there is absolute peace and joy without knowledge of misfortune and sadness. In Omelas, however, there is one instance of such woe: a small child left to dwell in fear and solitude in a cellar that is “…three paces long and two wide…”. Every person in Omelas knows that this child exists, yet they choose to ignore it and merely focus on their own lives, believing that intervening would mean the end of bliss for themselves. This fact is, in my opinion, what causes Omelas to be a dystopia. In reality, we as people grow up in a world that is more or less balanced in fortune and misfortune. Both are all around us. Our world is far from perfect, but it is not in shambles either. We recognize what is wrong and most of us do what we can to help improve those situations. This fact is what separates reality from the lifestyle of those in Omelas.