We love buying shiny new gadgets every now and then, but have you ever wondered where your old device ends up when you get rid of it? Agbogbloshie in Ghana is one of the places where electronics, such as computers, mobile phones and televisions, go to die.
Agbogbloshie is a former wetland, turned into a slum and now it is full of toxic electronic waste. German photographer Kevin McElvaney captured this place, documenting the presence of young people risking their lives in the search for e-waste to make little money. The waste is so excessive in the region that some parts, like monitors, keyboards and refrigerators, are also used for constructions.
Situated in the city of Accra, Agbogbloshie is known as the Sodom and Gomorrah of Ghana, because of the amount of toxic waste and its soil that turned black. Young people, aged between 7 and 25, burn piles of plastic concealing more valuable material.
Many of the workers come from poor regions of Ghana, earning as low as $2,50 per day. Toxic fumes cause many health problems and most of them reportedly die from cancer and related illnesses by their 20s.
Despite projects like this one aimed to raise awareness, the amount of e-waste continues to grow. United Nations University reported 46 million tons of electronic gadgets thrown away last year; with most of the waste originated from the United States and China. Although there are non-profit efforts to recycle these electronics, the necessary funds to hire people to work in a safe environment are missing.
With his project, McElvaney hopes to raise more awareness about the consequences of our consumerism. His photographs are currently on a traveling exhibition and he also auctions his prints to donate the proceeds to charities in Agbogbloshie.