Used Phones & Environment

Used cell phones have a impact on our environment


It seems that cell phones are a part of everyone's life. Everywhere you look you see people looking at one, or holding one in their hands. I bet you could not even imagine not having the latest one as soon as you hear about it. They make our lives easier and offer us so much in entertainment. They also have tools to help us in our daily lives. Cameras on phones get used all the time, and it's not hard to find videos that someone took on their cell phone. With each new phone the upgrades to cameras and videos call the consumer to indulge in buying a new one, even if their old one is only a year old.


Do you know what happens to the old ones? Did that thought even cross your mind? It crossed mine, so I figured I would do the research and then show it to you all. It seems that while I couldn't imagine life without my cell, we may have a global problem when it comes to the used phones.


In 2019 1.52 billion cell phones were purchased in the United States of America. 150 million mobile phones are then discarded every year in the USA. Then around 20 percent of those get recycled. The rest are mostly just stored away in drawers when a new one is bought.


Recycling dilemma 


This left me feeling a bit puzzled on why more are not recycled. I am a firm believer in reduce, reuse, recycle. In sixth grade I learned about how what we use impacts our beautiful planet. So diving into what may be drawing others to not recycle made me aware that it's harder to recycle the slimmer, smaller phones. They have to be done manually instead of by machine. Also the profits for recycling cell phones are very small. There is just not enough of an incentive for e-recyclers to offer this.


On the other hand we can cut down on mining for the valuable treasures that we can find inside every device. Mining for these resources is hard, as these resources have now become quite scarce. In a million cell phones, we could find 35, 274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium. We could recycle them instead of burning them (allowing toxins to enter the air), or filling a spot in a landfill waiting for it to begin to leak the hazardous materials that were used to create them to seep into the ground.


Health issues that can be found


This contamination can cause health problems for humans and animals alike. One of the main materials is lead, which is known to cause cancer and affect cognitive functions. While the other one we see a lot of is mercury, which is fatal for animals. It also causes severe sensory impairments, muscle weakness, and memory loss.


Ways you can help

Looking over all this data I felt like what can we do? Here are a few things to keep in mind. Reuse them for remotes or put emulators on them for gaming to go. They also make good e-readers! Also donating them to charities or reputable websites can help keep them from becoming a problem. Let’s all do our part for a better tomorrow.


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