How to Dial Up a Recycling Solution for Your Cell PhoneWritten by Mark Jeantheau
Would you care to offer an opinion on what a person should do with his obsolete cell phone? Now, now... We don't want to hear about what you thought that guy who was talking on his cell phone during movie should do with it... The bad manners of a few people aside, cell phones do pose a significant waste disposal problem for society.
INFORM, an environmental research organization partly funded by EPA, has estimated that cell phones are typically used only for about 18 months before being replaced. Calling plans are often packaged with free or low-cost cell phones, which often makes keeping your current phone economically disadvantageous. Thus, many cell phones face their demise before they have become technologically obsolete, and waste stream gets not only cell phones that are truly unusable, but also those that are simply no longer best deal for owner.
As of 2001 (the last year figures were available), there were 129 million cell phone users in US, with 400 million users worldwide. In coming years, as population and market penetration for cell phones both increase, number of cell phones destined for waste stream will continue rising. With such a short average lifespan for each cell phone, it's easy to perceive magnitude of cell phone disposal problem. INFORM estimates that by 2005, nearly 130 million cell phones will be discarded every year in United States.
How does this affect environment? In addition to volume of landfill space that cell phones could take up, they also contain toxic chemicals such as: - arsenic (used in some semiconductors) - brominated compounds (used as flame retardants) - lead (used in solder that attaches components to circuit boards)
These and other cell-phone toxins enter environment when discarded cell phones are incinerated or when rainwater leaches materials out of landfilled phones. Many of toxic compounds in cell phones are found on EPA's list of "persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals." EPA warns that these substances can cause a range of adverse human health effects, including damage to nervous system, reproductive and developmental problems, and cancer. Eek! Call a doctor!
So, what is a highly mobile, well connected cell-phone lover to do with a phone they no longer need?
Well, if you could go back in time, you could reconsider waste issue when evaluating your current cellular-service package. True, you can't do that; but here in present, you can include disposal issue when considering whether or not to renew your current plan or go with a one. If your phone still works fine, choosing a plan that allows you to keep it is best option from an environmental standpoint. If you do decide you want a new phone, you can still take waste issue into account to avoid finding yourself in same situation a year later. Don't accept a plan where economically intelligent thing to do again will be to throw away a perfectly functioning phone.
How You Can Give Better Holiday Gifts AND Be More Environmentally FriendlyWritten by Mark Jeantheau
It's holiday shopping season, and Grinning Planet would like to point out that holiday phrase "Ho, ho, ho!" also relates to being green--it's Jolly Green Giant's tagline. Well, OK, that doesn't exactly get us to "eco-friendly" meaning of being green. But when shopping for holiday gifts, there are a number of ways we can be environmentally friendly.
All manufactured items, including gifts, require material and energy to be produced, and production and transportation of items results in some level of pollution. Here are a couple of ways to make sure those resources aren't a waste:
1) Useful Gifts -- One of best ways to ensure resources related to your gift don't get wasted is to make sure your gift doesn't end up gathering dust in a closet. While "surprises" can be nice, giving someone a gift out of blue without any clue whether they'll truly like it or use it may get you one of those half-hearted "Um, oh, cool, thanks" responses. A different approach is to ask your giftees for wish lists, which works especially well within families, where social protocols and rituals can be more easily adjusted. This lessens surprise factor but guarantees that you're giving a gift that person will use.
2) Drawing Names -- As families and circles of friends grow, number of gifts being exchanged can increase rapidly. Rather than each person within a group giving a gift to every other member of group, names can be drawn so that each person gives gifts to only one or two people. This reduces overall amount of resources related to presents and will reduce your holiday stress level. It may be too late this year to implement such a strategy, but if you'd like to try it next year, suggesting change to your family/friends just after this holiday season will give people time to think about it and adjust to idea.
Regardless of how you arrange your gift giving, choosing environmentally friendly products will be better for planet than buying everyone an economy sized bottle of cloying cologne or some other non-green item. When looking at items claiming to be green, US Federal Trade Commission advises that shoppers look for quantitative or specific claims, rather than general claims like "green," "eco-friendly," or "environmentally safe," which are open to interpretation. Better descriptions are things like "made from organic cotton," "made from 50% recycled materials," or "manufactured without animal testing."
Here are a few categories of gifts that would be more eco-friendly than some others: