Coding better to reduce number of toxic villages

I actually wanted to write something on better programmers somehow improving the world. Then I read a Plurk by Shen Heng with the video above. (video link)

Discarded electronic equipment are transported to some countries to process. In particular, heavy metals such as lead are extracted from the equipment. In the video, there are small villages in China dedicated to processing the electronic equipment. The concern is on the toxicity of the processing and how heavy metal poisoning is affecting the children of those villages.

That’s just terrible. Can writing better code somehow improve the longevity of our electronic devices (computers, mobile phones and so on), so there are less to be recycled or disposed of? Can being a better programmer butterfly-affect the reduction of electronic waste?

I believe so. I believe somehow, the intangible software we write can affect the tangible hardware it resides in. I believe the software we develop should still be effective and efficient regardless of hardware improvements.

Or maybe it doesn’t matter. People will upgrade and throw away “old” equipment anyway.

What do you believe in?