BeyondConsumerism

Providing tools and support to families, citizens, and activists to counter our consumerist culture and to create new social norms about how to have a high quality of life and a reduced ecological footprint.

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Cell Phones

Cell phones rapidly become obsolete, making them a growing contributor to our landfill problem. It's important to recycle your old phone, but solar chargers and environmentally-minded cellular providers can help you chat more sustainably.

Solar Chargers and Headsets

The humble cell phone charger has gone futuristic. You can now wear your environmentalism on your sleeve with a strap-on solar cell charger, or work up a charge at the gym with the kinetic charger. Crank chargers give you a real workout while you repower your devices. Many solar models feature USB plugs so they can be charged either by the sun, or--on cloudy days--by your computer.

Recycling

Staples and many other office supply stores accept drop offs. All you have to do is plug in your zip code and Earth911 will show you the local drop off centers. Be sure to erase names and numbers in the memory first.

Other services allow you to mail the phone in. Try Charitable Recycling,CollectiveGood, Recycle My Cell Phone, and RIPMobil.

Socially Conscious Cellular Providers

Credo Mobile: 1% of charges goes to progressive nonprofits you vote on.

Earth Tones: 100% of its profits go to environmental organizations.

Why It's Important

According to CollectiveGood, “As of 2007, there are more than 750 million mobile phones waiting to be recycled in the US; either in drawers, or already in the waste stream. Another 150+ million or so will be added this year and even more next year. Once in the waste stream, these devices may leak lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and other toxic substances into the water supply.” To get an idea of exactly how many cell phones get tossed every year, view the artwork on Chris Jordan's website and look for photos representing all of these toxic little devices retired in the US every day. The visual impact of millions of phones used for a short period of time is unforgettable.

So don’t trash that old phone. Rather than end up leaching into a landfill, your old phone might be refurbished and sold in developing countries or safely stripped for parts while the hazardous waste is properly disposed of. Some recycling programs raise funds for charity, resell phones as alternatives to new ones, or provide phones to the homeless and victims of domestic violence.

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