Susty Stories

First World Problems

In 2013, Snapchat was offered US$4 billion by Google to be acquired. They turned it down. It is expected that in March 2017, Snapchat will go public giving it a possible valuation of US$40 billion. What has happened to society when we place such an immense value on a smartphone application that is essentially famous for the ability to send naked photos of ourselves to each other?

Have we become so disengaged that we no longer take the time to examine the real problems of this world? Is the selfie stick the greatest legacy we can leave whilst 663 million people do not have access to safe water and 2.4 billion people lack access to a toilet?

Let’s put some numbers into perspective. The Ecuadorian Amazon is widely considered to be the second greatest environmental disaster on the planet after Chernobyl.

The Niger Delta in Nigeria comes in at third place. Both of these areas have experienced about 50 years of continuous contamination. The total estimated cost to clean up the 68 billion litres of dumped hazardous waste within the Ecuadorian Amazon is US$27 billion and about 20+ years of time.

Each year Australians drink $7.3 billion worth of coffee outside of their homes; consume about $7 billion in chocolate and confectionary; and throw away $7.8 billion of edible food. More people in the world have mobile phones than have a toilet.

More people in the world have mobile phones than have a toilet.

There are approximately 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic currently littering the ocean. Each year we globally consume 200 billion litres of bottled water that requires 17 million barrels of oil to produce. Industrialized countries waste approximately US$680 billion in food. 50 million metric tons of e-waste is annually disposed of worldwide, of which only 12.5% is recycled. For every 1 million mobile phones there is 16,000 kilograms of copper, 350 kilograms of silver, 34 kilograms of gold and 15 kilograms of palladium that could be recovered. Put that into dollar terms at today’s metal prices. Living in an industrialised country is nothing to feel guilty about. If anything, be grateful! But our planet has some serious issues.

These are not issues that a hashtag is going to fix. It takes effort, know-how and money. We should all enjoy the benefits of our modern world, but we need to stop and think about the true price we pay for them. Taking the time to understand the real challenges may finally allow us to better prioritise, and then take the necessary steps to do something about them.


Submitted by Advanced Simplicity

Jennifer Uchendu

Jennifer Uchendu

Founder, SustyVibes
Nigerian Ecofeminist passionate about sustainable development. You would often find me talking about African women and how their development will save Africa.