“The amount of e-waste we generate is unfathomable, and has resulted in ecological devastation.”

Photographer Stanley Greene has spent his career documenting conflict – in Chechnya, Iraq, Somalia, and Croatia. In 2011, he was awarded a Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography for a different kind of project – following the trail of electronic trash that is created by modern technology. Greene explains further:

“My quest following the e-waste trail began by accident while standing over the cliffs looking at the icebergs in Uummannaq, Greenland, in November 2010. I could see the results of our modern day throw-away society: discarded junk, computers, dish washers, washing machines, televisions, stereos, office supplies, toilets, trucks, cars…junk. The past and present colliding into the future.


The amount of e-waste we generate is unfathomable, and has resulted in ecological devastation, destroying millions of families, who must harvest whatever is salvageable at great risk to their lives.


E-waste is comprised of toxic agents like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), copper, lead, zinc, gold, iron, thallium, mercury etc. Lead is present in computer monitors and televisions and is poisonous for the nervous system and progressively attacks the brain. Too high toxic levels can lead to paralysis. Cadmium is the main component in some batteries and circuit boards and causes cancer. Mercury affects the brain and nervous system. PCB is a dioxin linked to birth defects.


The crisis is here and it is daunting. Common problems of developing nations, such as waste disposal, poverty and violence are exacerbated by the e-waste phenomenon. The sad reality for me personally, is that the more civilized we have become, the more barbaric we act towards our fellow humans.”

Find out more about the Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography