Mobile devices

Published on June 6th, 2018 | by Guest

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The Effects Smartphones Have on the Environment

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you stretch, wash your face, or check your phone? If you check your phone before you do anything else, don’t feel bad. That’s because, throughout the years, smartphones have become an indispensable part of our daily life, and for good reason. Think about it: smartphones today act as alarm clocks, cameras, event reminders, computers, and telephones. This is why they’ve become so valuable over the past 10 years.

Smartphones even allow users to pass time in ways that weren’t even available a decade ago, thanks to things like apps, games, and social media. For users, however, this is only the beginning, since manufacturers are finding new ways to improve these devices every day. The demand for these devices are high, needless to say, which is why three-quarters of the U.S. population owns a mobile device. Smartphones without a doubt have improved our lives in a number of ways — keeping us in contact with the world and helping us with navigation just to name a few.

With all these amazing features right in the palm of our hands, could anything go wrong? The answer is yes. Although smartphones are great gadgets, there’s a side to them that many users don’t think about so often: the negative impact they have on the environment.

The Human Cost

There are a number of reasons why phones users get rid of their old devices once their contracts are up. Some users, for example, prefer to have the latest gadgets so they can stay up to date. Others prefer to benefit financially by having lower monthly bills to avoid taking on unnecessary debt. Whatever your reason is for getting a new phone, there’s one thing you should always keep in mind throughout the process: how to properly dispose of your old one once you’re no longer using it. Having this knowledge won’t only save the environment, it will also save other lives as well.

When phones are improperly recycled, or find their way to landfills, it ultimately causes negative effects on the human body. Remember, when manufacturing companies build phones, they’re built with harmful chemicals like mercury, lead, chlorine, and arsenic. If these chemicals find their way into our soil, it can contaminate our drinking water and our food supply by poisoning the soil we use to grow fruits and vegetables.

The Environmental Cost

The love we have for our smartphones has taken a real toll on the workers that make them. The impact, however, goes much deeper than that.

When most people buy a new phone, they never stop to think about what’s going to happen to their old one. Of course, recycling your phone helps since certain components can be reused again, but that’s still not enough. When it comes to balancing out the concerns of sustainability in life, the problem directly relates to mining. That’s because, in order for phones to be developed, miners across seas have to extract certain metals that allow smartphones to operate properly. Metals that are beneficial to the Earth, and harmful to other species of life. This is what contributes to the growing amount of electronic waste in the long run.

What Can We Do to Help?

In order to fix this industry, we would have to start from scratch, and that could take some time. There are, however, a few things that can be done along the way to ease the damage already done to the environment. For one, when purchasing a new phone, check and see if your service provider has a recycle bin for your old one. This won’t only improve working conditions for miners across seas, it will also help preserve the environment.

If your service provider doesn’t recycle your old device for whatever reason, don’t discard it. Some companies will purposely refuse old phones because it saves them time. Retrieving the rare metals used to make phones is a complex issue. This is why some manufacturing companies chose increased functionality over increased reliability.

Fortunately, you can still be a part of the solution by saving your old device and properly disposing of it. So, if you have an old phone stashed away in a drawer somewhere, be sure to take it to a recycling center to avoid further damage to our precious planet. If you don’t know where to go, just search for a drop-off location near you.

Thanks for the read! Did I miss anything important? What are some other ways phone user can properly dispose of their phones? Feel free to leave a comment below.


About the author:

H. Davis enjoys exploring the outdoors and reading up recycling tips. If you can’t find him online, you might be able to catch him at the gym or watching sports (Go, Broncos!). Follow him on Twitter at @Davis241. Thanks!

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