Cell phones

OK, so I have iPhone envy. I admit it. I mean who doesn’t? It has 3G technology! (Never mind that I had to look up what exactly 3G technology meant). I’ll probably buy one when they become available next month. But this begs the question, what am I do to with my no longer as cool Blackberry Pearl?

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 100 million cell phones are no longer used annually. These phones, which more often than not, end up in landfills, can contain metals such as lead, and other plastics and chemicals like cadmium and arsenic which are all hazardous and can pose serious health risks. The EPA also estimates that if we recycled all of these phones we could save enough energy to power nearly 200,000 U.S. homes for a year.

So, if you’re like me, and you plan on upgrading your primary method of communication this summer, let’s try to act responsibly and make sure we recycle our old cell phones. Fortunately there are dozens of places we can do this. I’m going to head on over to Collective Good’s Recycle My Cell Phone website which allows me to mail in my cell phone to a facility where they refurnish or recycle all pieces of your cell phone and importantly, they don’t export hazardous waste to developing countries, or dump it in municipal landfills.

Many cell phone companies have been pushed into creating their own recycling program for example AT&T has its own program which anyone who buys a new iPhone can drop off their old one at their point of purchase.

The dilemma of what to do with your old cell phone really begs the larger question of how we deal (or don’t) with electronic waste in this country, and in turn how we deal with sustainable consumption and production practices. For some scary facts about what e-waste is, click here. Recycling your cell phone is a good first step to taking greater responsibility for the electronic waste that you create.

Now that I know where my phone will end up, I can literally be, green with envy.
Elizabeth R. Miller is a Senior Program Associate at The Overbrook Foundation and is patiently counting down the days until July 11th.