The Magic of Reuse

One of the easiest ways to be environmentally conservative is to use and reuse items you have until they actually no longer provide the function needed.  Basically, someone who is environmentally aware does NOT replace their cell phone or car or other things every year or two without knowing how to repurpose the item.

Almost all of us now have mobile phones that fit in our pockets and connect us to the world easily. Perhaps you have a love-hate relationship with the device; maybe you just love all  that it does: reach your mom and assure her that yes, you still are alive; connect you to your BFF to make plans for the evening; use the map ap to find that new restaurant everyone is talking about; add items to your shopping list and not forget it at home on the table when you go to the store; verify the latest crazy post on Facebook before you jump on the bandwagon and it turns out to be full of baloney.

That small piece of electronic hardware and software is not without environmental costs, however. On top of the energy and cost associated with extracting the materials that go into a cellphone, the disposal of cellphones often leaves a toxic imprint on the environment. That’s because:

• Printed circuit boards contain toxic metals including lead, nickel, and beryllium.
• Liquid crystal displays contain mercury.
• Batteries may contain nickel and cadmium, particularly older ones.
• Plastics may contain brominated flame retardants, that are toxic and persist in the environment. Studies suggest they accumulate in household dust and in the food chain, and they have been detected in some fish.

While it is very fashionable to replace your cell phone every 18 months or two years, the equipment should last at least double that time as long as updates still work. Getting a new phone just to get a new phone is a type of consumerism that needs reconsideration.  If your phone is not longer holding its charge, that makes sense. If you just want something new, you must have a lot of extra money…may we suggest donating to an organization that does good work (hint: Zero Waste McMinnville is a 501(c)3 organization).

Many cell phone owners have several old phones no longer in use and thrown into some drawer. There is a better place for it.

There are many organizations which accept them. Some are overseas and help provide connection to the world for people living in rural areas. Others are nearby. For example, Henderson House in McMinnville accepts old cell phones for their clients, people who have escaped situations where domestic abuse made them concerned for their safety.

The How Stuff Works website suggests an old phone can become a permanent GPS in your car. By hooking it up and leaving it in the car (out of sight) you no longer have to mess around hooking up your current mobile, connecting it to Bluetooth and the charger cable.

Image result for cell phone gps
Use a dash or air vent mount

An old cell phone also can be the music device of choice for your walks, camping trips, or time on the beach. Even if it is not connected to your phone plan, it can be used to dial 911 in an emergency.  You need not worry about damage (sand, water, etc).   beach phone

Plugged into a power outlet, an old cell phone can also serve as a baby monitor with an app that will keep it and you alert..

Image result for cell phone as baby monitor

An old phone also can serve as a low cost Go-Pro with a universal headmount or way to attach it to your bicycle.  Speaking of photos, many of us have an incredible photo collection on our mobile phones and are concerned about losing them if the phone is stolen. How about downloading them to an old phone!

These are examples of how a piece of equipment, important to your life, can be used in many ways after its useful life in its primary role is over. Reuse is better than the landfill!!!




One thought on “The Magic of Reuse

  • I’m on my 3rd phone in 20 years, the last 2 still work, in someways better and easier to use than this one, so they are my back ups, as my current one only a few years old (my first touch screen) is a problem due to it being Microsoft and the software no longer being updated 😦


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