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Weekly Tips | September 17, 2012

On the Line

In our fast-paced world, technology is changing by the second, and with it the opportunity to buy the latest and greatest electronic toys and gadgets. Why not consider a smart choice when purchasing a Smartphone—Mother Nature will thank you!

Cell phones are perhaps the best example of this: when a new cell phone feature is announced, we are all encouraged to take out our wallets, remove our SIM cards and swap-up.

This rapid replacement cycle creates electronic waste and promotes a false impression that electronics, like cell phones, are easy to dispose of.

Help reduce electronic waste and conserve natural resources by choosing not to upgrade your cell phone annually. But, if the newest version of the iPhone is too irresistible to pass up, consider donating your old phone to a local reuse, recycle or Take It Back program. You may even earn some cash for your goods.

Cell phones contain heavy metals and environmental toxins, and are not allowed in the garbage.

Sources: Take It Back Network | (2) US EPA Cell Phone Recycling ResourcesECycle Cell Phone Recycling

The Big Picture

Every day 426,000 cell phones are disposed of in the US(1).

Cell phones are made using mined, raw materials including copper, gold, lead, nickel, zinc, beryllium, tantalum, coltan, cobalt, cadmium, and other metals; crude oil for plastic; sand and limestone for fiberglass; and glass and mercury for the LCD screen. Cell phone batteries are made using lithium metallic oxide and carbon-based materials, all mined from the earth(2).

Many of these materials are known as “persistent toxins” and can stay in the environment for long periods of time, even after disposal(3).

By using your current cell phone as long as you can, donating your used phones to reuse programs, and recycling unusable phones, you will help conserve natural resources and reduce the accumulation of persistent toxins in the environment.

Sources: (1) Chris Jordan, Seattle artist; from "Running the Numbers An American Self-Portrait" | (2) EPA Education: Life Cycle of a Cell Phone | (3) EPA Persistent Toxins | US EPA: Life Cycle of a Cell Phone | CBC News: Coltan  

phone  cell phone 


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