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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 February 2005, 17:26 GMT
"How I'd change the world..."
The future generation has an unenviable task: tomorrow they must tackle the environmental problems we are creating today. Ahead of the Kyoto treaty coming into force, we asked seven young people from around the world how they would do things differently.

Alex Lin
Alex Lin
11, USA

Aparna Bhasin
Aparna Bhasin
17, India

William Roper
William Roper
17, UK

Jean-Christophe Martel
JC Martel
17, Canada

Analiz Vergara
Analiz Vergara
16, Ecuador

Shoko Takahashi
Shoko Takahashi
14, Japan

Yvonne Maingey
Yvonne Maingey
17, Kenya

Georgina Viveash
15, UK

Alex Lin

Alex Lin
We managed to recycle 21,000 lbs of e-waste
About 70% of our e-waste is dumped: some in the US and some in other countries. And 80% of our supposedly "recycled" e-waste ends up being dumped in other countries.

That is why when you recycle, you have to do it properly with a responsible recycler, or that could be the fate of your e-waste.

I am doing a project which is concerned with recycling e-waste.

It is very important because inside computers and other e-waste there are many hazardous chemicals and heavy metals - like lead and mercury - and they are really bad for the environment and ourselves.

If computers are dumped in landfill sites, the chemicals will usually leak out and pollute the water.

I had read in the local newspapers that e-waste was becoming a big problem.

I got interested in this so I asked authorities what I should do with a computer - and I was told that I should just put it into a garbage bag and throw it out - but that means it ends up in the central land-fill site.

Lorry filled with computers
Some of the e-waste that Alex helped to recycle
Last October we sent out a survey to all the schools in our area.

We found out when people were going to throw out old computers and we asked for donations - and we repaired the old computers and gave them back to our community, so they didn't get dumped.

Last Saturday we organised a recycling day for e-waste at our school. Over the past few weeks we've done radio interviews and put adverts in the paper about it.

It was actually really successful - we got 21,000 lbs of e-waste.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

If everyone did their share, the world would be a better place
Meg Smith, Colorado, USA
There should be more people like Alex. If everyone did their share, the world would be a better place. This young man has great ideas. We can all learn from him.
Meg Smith, Colorado, USA

Alex's views are very important for those of us who live in countries that have the resources to repair and give older computers and other machines to those in need. He should be recognised as someone who has commitment and innovative thinking in helping others!
Cookie Lewis

Alex is very forward thinking, I hope he can keep his nerve as he grows older in America. Recycling of all sorts has become popular in the UK over the past decade and I'm sure that there are many advantages but the government is very silent on the real killer of the environment, and that's manufacturing. Our recycling efforts will never keep pace with the rate at which the makers of electronic goods, plan the obsolescence of their current models, and very few statistics about environmental damage caused by manufacturing processes are released to the public.
Mark Shepherd, London

Very knowledgeable for such a young man. He should be very proud that he is concerned enough to look into this. I don't know many 11 year olds who think beyond the next PS2 game!!!
Pam Lukeman, Cork, Ireland

I'd be far happier receiving my fish and chips in paper than in a plastic carton
Jon Evans, Cardiff, UK
How embarrassing that an 11 year old kid from the US understands this but most adults don't. I try to limit the waste I produce but I'm often not offered much option. I'd be far happier receiving my fish and chips in paper than in a plastic carton. I see no reason for the use of so much plastic packaging in supermarket food either.
Jon Evans, Cardiff, UK

Our town has e-waste recycling and I wish they would make it a law that all e-waste has to be recycled. We need to start in our schools educating students and maybe they would get their parents involved.
Betty, Pennsylvania, USA

I think Alex is doing great and I really appreciate his views because he seems to be concerned for the well-being of human beings. Dumping e-waste, with all its chemical contents, could be a dangerous thing for us and I think Alex should be heard attentively.
Girmawib Bush, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Re-using is only part of the solution. These products need to be made with materials that don't make them hazardous in the first place.
William Volterman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada


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