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Meet the materials we need to save the planet, but are throwing away

We shot past another Earth Overshoot Day this summer. We didn’t hear nearly enough about slowing and curbing our consumption of stuff. Products. Electronics. Plenty of attention to food and plastics, and even some to fashion, but not enough to our insatiable appetite for consumer products.

We’ve just released a set of new educational resources that help us open our electronics and open our eyes to the raw materials inside that we are simply throwing away.

Critical raw materials in our technology

Even when we recycle electronics, most of these “critical raw materials” are not getting recouped. Indium, Tantalum, and rare earth elements are hardly recycled at all. They are hard to substitute, hard to extract from the earth and we are simply mining them, using them in products with short lives, and throwing them away.


If this was not a big enough problem – and a disaster for communities affected by land grabs and pollution generated by mining and processing – these same materials are needed to scale the production of renewable energy. Needed for batteries, solar cells, and wind turbines, these critical raw materials are being wasted. Incinerated, thrown into landfills.

Too often we either hear an over-simplified story about “conflict minerals” or a simple appeal to just recycle electronics. What if the truth is, the whole system needs a total overhaul AND we need to slow our consumption?


We’re sharing printable cards, leaflets, scripts for disassembly of mobiles, and slides for projection. They can be used in the classroom, after or outside of school, or at events.

Learn more

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