In the United States alone, 426,000 cellphones are retired each and every day for various reasons – but do you think that number would be that high if people actually had to pay for their phones? I certainly don’t, and I would love to see manufacturers start charging real money for their phones so that people will not be so quick to just toss them aside after a few months of use because a shinier version came out with a new gadget installed. Every major cellphone company subsidizes most of their handsets, so you can get almost any phone you want for virtually nothing if you just sign up for a new plan every 2 years. Sure, some of them get recycled, but imagine if we could cut the amount of e-waste we create in the first place, meaning that less of it would even have to be recycled!
One of the biggest problems with this is the issue of where do the phones go when they are no longer needed – the companies have not instituted real recycling programs, and only some communities have e-waste days a few days of the year – so where does the rest of this waste go? Right in the garbage, to be incinerated and buried along with the rest of our garbage. However, e-waste is laden with heavy metals like lead and mercury, which slowly work their way into our groundwater and our air, making for more and more pollution.
So what is my solution? Make cellphones expensive, like the iPhone. I have an iPhone, and it will be a very long time before I get a new phone because it was not cheap. It does everything I need it to (and more), and even though a new model just came out, mine works just fine, thank you! If everyone had to cough up real money for their phone, they might think long-term about which model they were buying and get something that will last them a few years rather than a few months. We could keep millions of toxic cellphones out of our landfills, cleaning up our environment; companies could cut back on the natural (and unnatural) resources that they use to make these hundreds of millions (or billions) of phones each year; and we could really think about what we are buying instead of blindly picking the newest “latest and greatest” every 6 months because we are so concerned about what people think of our phones. How long would you keep your cellphone if you had actually paid good money for it?
426,000 phones thrown out every day X 365 days a year = 155,490,000 phones discarded in the United States alone each year. That is a scary number!
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