Being in the eco-friendly Pacific Northwest, BAN often gets interest from our Seattle local community, particularly from students interested in learning more about environmental justice issues.
Recently, we hosted a group of 6th grade girls who were researching potential topics for an upcoming trash-themed robotics competition. They are in the FIRST Lego League, a nonprofit STEM (that’s science, technology, engineering, and math education) Trash Trek program, and their team is sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. They’re finding solutions to a real-life problem, programming a Lego robot, and sharing possible solutions with others.
Being a diverse team – with ties to China, India, Iran, and Finland – these impressive young ladies were especially interested in the international flows of e-waste. They came prepared with piles of insightful questions on the complex issue out of e-waste dumping.
"Don't they know these things are bad for them?"
"Why would someone do this as a job?"
“Why does stuff like this keep happening?"
As we talked through many questions like these, the group often kept coming up with the same answer: money. Some companies sacrifice the health of people and the environment for more profit (as dumping is cheaper than responsibly handling). Workers are trapped into sacrificing their health in unsafe conditions for the money they need to simply survive.
However, their final question, “Is it too late to fix the problem?”, found a different answer: It’s never too late to make a change.
As the girls left our offices they were excitedly chattering about all the possible solutions. A few days later we heard back that they had chosen e-waste and BAN as their team’s focus in the upcoming competition.
We loved having them in the office, as the unrestrained hopeful energy of youth is very contagious. We can’t wait to see the amazing project they come up with!