Reduce, Reuse, Recycle or Rethink....

We often talk about how to recycle batteries, but what if we thought about instead of recycling, we concentrated on reusing. Cell phones are replaced about every two years and they still have a life of maybe four to five more years of reusable life. For example, consider cell phones and how far we have come from Motorola's first cell phone in 1983. It cost about $4000, and only the rich cold afford them. Today almost everyone has a cell phone. Do you know any eighth grader that doesn't? Some 285 million people have cell phones in the U.S.  The materials in batteries are a limited natural resource. When was the last time you replaced your cell phone? Most people replace their cell phone when their carrier's contract runs out in less than just two years. What do people usually do with that old phone? They keep it thinking they will sell it but never do and then it becomes junk.  Manufacturers have made continued improvements  such as Apple's iPhone, which gained 40 percent of market share in its first three years and as a result, the initial lifespan is between 18 and 24 months. In other words, roughly half of the phones in use one year are retired the next year. That is a lot of cell phones.

An estimated 10 to 15 percent of these are simply discarded and merge invisibly into the municiple waste stream. A much larger percentage of those retired are "stockpiled." Because of their small size, but high perceived value, roughly 65 to 70 percent of old phones end up in a drawer as a rarely used backup.

That leaves less than 20 percent of retired phones in the U.S to be collected for reuse or recycling. That phone could be used for another four or  five more years.  To rethink this situation, instead of leaving your old cell phone in a drawer, consider helping a person in Africa get an education by donating your used cell phones.

Sharon McNeill, Student Sponsorship Program Coordinator of Nomad Charities says, "Each phone donated sells for an average of 5500 schillings ($65.00). It costs a University student about 70000 schillings a quarter for tuition. That is only 13 phones per quarter that each student needs. Each additional phone they get provides them with living expenses, food, medical needs, transportation and clothing. It is wonderful to be able to provide the phones in lieu of asking for money. We definitely fund raise money for high school students but this added program allows our high graduates the opportunity to continue their education. BTW, over 75 percent of our high school sponsored students are in University. One of our GIRLS is in Law School on a full paid scholarship! Another student has graduated college and has been traveling around the world working for the United Nations." To donate your cell phone
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Resources: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink....
                By T Laseter, Anten Ovchinnikov
                G Raz  Issue 61, 2010.
                Interview: Sharon McNeil,
                Nomad Charities