E-waste is a massive environmental problem. But what if, instead of throwing our cell phones away and having them shipped to Africa and China for scrap, we could simply eat them? That’s the conceit that Boo Chapple, an artist obsessed by food and environmentalism, proposes in a new pamphlet, Consumables. As Chapple writes:
If electronic devices were edible, we could save on petrochemicals andsolve the global food crisis in one simple move. In place of e-waste,there would now be e-food. There would be no more photo essay exposésof towns in China piled with PCB’s, dusted in plastic and beset withbirth defects. There would be no more African famines. As thedeveloping world grew fat on the cast-offs, ‘starving child’advertisements would go viral retro cool on YouTube and the guiltmarket would be forced to redouble its efforts in carbon offsetschemes. Instead of upgrading your phone once a year, you could buy anew one once a week and know that you were contributing something tothe world simply by wasting more.
Sounds awesome right?!
From there, Chapple’s imagination takes over, as she imagines celebrity chefs trotting across Africa, showing the poor how to whip up delicious meals from cell phones, while kids get “visceral ring tones,” which would presumably broadcast pop songs, straight from their colons. (There’s a billion dollar market there, surely.)
Of course, as Edible Geography points out, it’s all absurd stuff–and that’s really Chapple’s point. In the tradition of Jonathan Swift, she’s offering up a long list of the perils presented by e-waste, as a satirical confection that goes down easy. As much as we’d like to solve our problems with simple gluttony, we can’t. We can’t just wait around for easy solutions. Getting fatter isn’t the answer.
Now eat your broccoli.