How Does Recycling Cell Phones Affect Chimpanzees?

In the Congo Basin live many of Africa’s most iconic animals — elephants, hippos, mountain gorillas and buffaloes. Additionally, 1,000 types of birds and 700 kinds of fish call this their home, coexisting with the people who’ve inhabited the region for 50,000 years. Notably, among the 400 species of mammals includes one of the largest populations of intact chimpanzees.

Unfortunately, the chimpanzees are under threat, which is why the Jane Goodall Institute has launched the International Day for Mobile Phone Recycling today, Jan. 24.

Confused about the connection? Cell phones include valuable minerals, many of which can be found in the Congo Basin. As acres of forest are cleared to provide access to the mining sites where these minerals can be extracted, precious habitat is lost for the chimpanzees who live here.

The chimps aren’t the only ones losing out, though. People have been caught up in this industry, where the market for mining minerals has led to conflict and even millions of deaths, pushing people farther into the forest for refuge and encroaching even more on this all-important habitat.

Making a Difference

So what can you do from half a world away? Here’s Jane Goodall’s take:

By recycling cell phones, we can reuse these precious minerals, negating the need to extract them. Plus, keeping used electronics out of the waste stream is healthier for the planet overall.

Recycle Your Old Phones

If you’re looking for a place to recycle cell phones, here are some options. Find more in the Earth911 Recycle Search.

  • Call2Recycle: This North American battery recycling program accepts all cell phones and cell phone batteries, regardless of size, make, model or age.
  • Gazelle: Trade your old phone in for cash or buy a pre-owned phone to save both money and the earth’s resources.
  • Cell Phones for Soldiers: Since 2004, this charity has provided more than 300 million minutes of talk time to troops. They accept all makes, models and conditions of phones.
  • ecoATM: Take your old phone to one of these kiosks, located at stores and malls across the country, and you’ll get an instant appraisal of what it’s worth. If you agree to sell it, the machine will spit out your cash right there on the spot.

Happy Mobile Phone Recycling Day!

Haley Shapley

Haley Shapley is based in Seattle, where recycling is just as cool as Macklemore, walking in the rain without an umbrella, and eating locally sourced food. She writes for a wide range of national and regional publications, covering everything from sustainability and health to travel and retail.

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