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Opinion Editorials

Before you buy an electric vehicle, consider the slave labor used

We want to be good to the Earth, so we buy an electric vehicle, unaware that slaves are suffering to mine the necessary materials, complicating our choices.

cobalt mines using slave labor to build batteries for electric vehicles

The most crushing part of moving toward a sustainable life is unintended consequences. Many people don’t feel too much guilt over low wage factory workers putting their iPhones together because it’s a one-time purchase, and we’ve all gotten better about not buying a new smartphone every year and contributing to the massive e-waste devastation.

We’ve recently been car shopping and have always had a combustible engine, but thought about transitioning to an electric vehicle. We were narrowing down brands until we saw a video that stopped us in our tracks (please do watch it, as we think it might stop you in yours, too):

A quick jaunt down Google lane will tell you that this isn’t groundbreaking information, it’s been floating around for years. But I hadn’t heard this before, had you?!

If you have, then shame on you for not telling me directly. If you haven’t, then welcome to the club.

You don’t have to like Joe Rogan at all to hear what the guest is talking about, and again, all of this information is quickly verifiable.

There is already enough controversy around electric vehicles, for example Ford is being seen as empowering the Chinese government with their recent battery plant, yet another unintended consequence mucking up altruistic decisions.

After watching the above video, I wonder if YOU feel as called to reconsider your purchases, as we have?

This feels like when we learned back in the day that each of us has an individual carbon footprint, and we all made iterative changes to improve that. For example, we started challenging ourselves to only use one garbage bag in our home for the week, and if we got close to filling it, we needed to see what could be recycled or reused.

But lithium batteries aren’t just in electric vehicles, they’re in our smartphones, our tablets, vape devices, electric toothbrushes, e-bikes, and they’re even used as backup storage for many solar power systems.

How in the hell can we get away from using lithium batteries that rely on precious materials like cobalt that are being illegally mined by slave labor?

You may not be deeply impacted by this, but in my sensitive little heart right now, I quite feel like Liam Neeson on his knees at the end of Schindler’s List, pondering how selling his ring or car could have saved more lives.

Could buying one less laptop save a life? Could not buying an electric vehicle save a life? Just one life?

There has got to be a better way – we’re investing in EVs to make the world a better place, not to enslave people and make it worse!

We’ll be digging into this topic and sharing with you over the coming weeks and months what we find, and share with you how this information is impacting not only our own buying habits, but the habits of our readers.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.


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