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How smartphones are heating up the planet

Whatever you do, don’t just put your phone in the dumpster, regardless of how old it is. It far better for the environment to just pass it on.

global warming
Image: Al-Rasub

It’s been 11 years since the first iPhone came out and hit the market back in 2007. Since its release, over a third of the world’s population now owns a smartphone, and billions more have been sold throughout the years across the globe – not without impacting the planet, however.

That’s because there are a number of components in smartphones that are considered toxic, like arsenic, lead, copper, lithium, cadmium, and zinc. The worst part, however, is throwing these devices away won’t solve the problem since much of these poisonous substances can still affect the environment.

How? From decomposing waste located in landfills. In other words, waste from landfills can find its way into our groundwater and contaminate not only the water but the soil as well. If the soil is contaminated, then the products grown in that specific area will also be poisoned, which we then later consume. This can lead to illnesses like hepatitis, kidney failure, and cancer – the latter of which is one of the leading causes of death in the world.

Trashing your mobile device isn’t the only thing harmful to the environment. In fact, the production of new smartphones also contributes to things like climate change by using an excessive amount of energy and virgin materials, which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

With that in mind, here are a few things you can do to help protect the environment from harmful substances located on our mobile devices:

Keep or Donate Your Old Phone

old smartphones

Most smartphone users have pretty good judgment when it comes to disposing or recycling things like daily trash, but what do we do with smartphones when we no longer need them? If you aren’t sure how to get rid of your old phone, this will help you through the process.

Before tossing your phone in the trash, consider keeping or donating your it. That’s because recycling your old device helps the environment by conserving energy in the long run. Aside from that, recycling your mobile device not only conserves valuable materials, it also prevents air and water pollution, along with greenhouse gases from harming the atmosphere any further.

Most smartphone users replace their devices every 18 to 24 months, usually when their contracts expire, or with the promise of lower interest rates and better deals for customers who qualify; meaning that as companies continue to market their products, the number of old phones floating around will only increase. So, if you toss your phone in the trash after getting a new phone, you’re not only losing money, you’re single-handedly contributing to the problem by destroying the environment.

What if the Phone Isn’t in Good Condition?

cracked iPhone

Image: CNN Money

If your phone isn’t in the best condition to donate, don’t throw it in the trash. Remember, phones contain harmful and toxic chemicals that can poison surrounding areas long after it’s been removed from the source. Disposing of your phone in the garbage can also pose a danger to staff workers who crush them at landfill locations. So instead of trashing your phone, it’s best to recycle it. If you aren’t sure where to go, simply contact the company that provides you the service. They typically have a number of vendors or tech-centers that take recycled phones.

If, however, recycling your phone isn’t an option, then you should consider disposing of it in a safe way. That said, it’s important to dispose of your phone in a conscious manner. For instance, you can leave it somewhere in a bin that’s specifically designed to dispose of electronic waste. These locations can often be found at tech stores.

How Are Recycled Parts Used?

recycled smartphones

Just about every part of the phone – the battery, metal, and plastic – can be recycled and used to make new and improved products. Metals, for example, used from recycled phones can also be used to make jewelry, car parts, and other electronics. Plastic can also be used to make phone parts and other products – like furniture and packaging.

When batteries are recovered from phones that no longer work, they’re simply recycled to make more rechargeable battery products.

If you’ve decided to go ahead and recycle all your old phones, then kudos to you. However, don’t forget to take certain precautions before getting rid of your device. Make sure you erase all your data and personal information – apps, contacts, and pictures – from your phone. Although most phones come equipped with a “Factory Reset” option, it’s best to reach out to someone to know what they’re doing if you aren’t sure. Whatever you do, don’t just put your phone in the dumpster, regardless of how old it is. It far better for the environment to just pass it on.

Thanks for the read! Did I miss anything important? What are some other reasons you shouldn’t throw smartphones away? I’ll be checking for comments so feel free to leave one below.

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H.D. enjoys being active and finds any excuse to outside and explore the outdoors. If you can’t catch him online, you might be able to catch him working out at the gym, or cheering on the Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at @Davis241.

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