How Do You Recycle a Cellphone? Ask a Kid

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Every year, millions of cellphones are discarded, leaving their precious metals and plastics to potentially release toxic materials into the environment instead of being turned into new products.

How can we convince people to recycle those phones instead of hanging onto them or sending them straight to the trash? By bringing in perhaps the most persuasive group of all: kids.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and JASON Learning teamed up to ask students in grades K–12 to create posters and videos to help spread the word about cellphone recycling. Each entry was in the style of a public service announcement that would convince friends, relatives and others to choose to recycle.

Poster Winner

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For the poster category, seventh-grader Leanza S.M. Toves, 13, of Kapolei Middle School in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, took home the top prize. Her poster highlights the fact that 130 million cellphones are retired annually in the U.S. and includes stats on the valuable elements in the 14,400 metric tons of retired cellphones a year. (Bonus: It gives Earth911 a shout-out!)

Video Winner

For the video category, it was 11th-grade homeschoolers Marlowe Lexvold and Ahnika Lexvold from South Haven, Minn., who caught the judges’ eye with their 45-second video that features a talking cellphone.

Grand-prize winners in each category received a trip to Las Vegas, among other prizes such as a year of online access to JASON and a T-shirt.

“The artwork, seen by classmates, family and communities, delivers a strong message that will benefit the environment and economy,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “It is good to see so many young people getting involved and caring about this important issue.”

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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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