Nature’s Past – Episode 7: E-Waste and Obsolescence

Nature’s Past Episode 07 – click to play | right click, ‘save as’ to download

The problem of e-waste grows with each new mobile phone, music player, laptop computer or other type of consumer electronic device. Because many of these products are made with toxic substances, disposal is a major challenge. The environmental crisis of e-waste can be attributed to a strategy of industrial manufacturing developed over the course of the twentieth-century known as obsolescence. On this episode of the podcast, we hear from Giles Slade, author of the award-winning book Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America, on this historical trend in manufacturing.

Also, Bill Turkel from the University of Western Ontario tells us about a workshop he held called “Hacking as a Way of Knowing”.

Please be sure to take a moment and review this podcast on our iTunes page.

Works Cited:

Music Credits:

Other Contributor(s): 
  • Giles Slade
  • Bill Turkel

Kheraj, Sean. “Episode 7: E-Waste and Obsolescence.” Nature’s Past. 15 June 2009.

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Sean Kheraj is an associate professor in the Department of History at York University. He researches and teaches in the areas of environmental and Canadian history. In addition to being a co-editor of, he is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at

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