TEN “RE” ACTIONS re RESPONSIBLE USE OF ELECTRONICS by Suzanne Lind
(Suzanne is on the left in this photo with the director of the ECC Sewing Project in Kinshasa, DR Congo.)
You have all heard me talk about my concern for the suffering caused by “blood minerals” in eastern Congo -- particularly those needed for the production of electronic equipment like cellphones, computers, games. The fact that the supply of those minerals is limited has become general knowledge much more quickly than our realization that fossil fuels and water are also in increasingly short supply.
The current series we are delving into in church is helping all of us to see the broader and deeper picture that all our environmental, political and social campaigns are part of -- and to be more and more aware of the complexity of these developments/crises, and of the seeming impossibility of doing anything about it. We’re learning to put some theological muscle into our search for why and how to respond. We’ve known for many years that we have to choose our issues carefully in order to stay sane and live as responsible people in the lives we’re part of. Most of us try to respond to opportunities to care for creation and participate actively in the return-reuse-recycle systems and habits that have developed in the past couple decades.
What we are hearing in the past few weeks here in church is that we may need to dig a bit deeper into our attitudes and behaviors. The Transition movement is challenging us, perhaps, to make bigger changes in our lifestyles than we really want to, for the broader good of humanity. We are recognizing that ”the development of human greed [is] based on an increasingly entrenched idea that consumption is the only way to happiness and success, and should not be restricted in any way -- if one can afford it --“ Capitalism has run rampant and it is causing too much damage. How can we curb this addiction? And soon?
I am thinking now about the used or outdated equipment in our house which we or our children have stacked on shelves. We got it, I guess, because something better came along, or else it wasn’t designed to last a long time. But it is not biodegradable and it is full of those precious minerals which greedy people buy without concern for how it was mined and for the poor people who suffer in the process; minerals which will eventually run out, creating more conflict and violent greediness in a world in which almost everyone in the “developed world” is addicted to more and better technological equipment.
In order not to go mad, I list for myself the “what can I do’s”:
· REDUCE -- use less
· REUSE -- use longer
· RECYCLE -- lots of opportunities in our communities (more notes below)
Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.
For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.
http://www2.epa.gov/learn-issues US Environmental Protection Agency : recycling
· REFUSE -- just say no. Decide deliberately that neither you nor your children really “need” the next version of every device you own.
· RECONSIDER – what kind of a life do I really want? How can I, in some small, consistent way, protect our world from death and myself from being a greedy, self-centered consumer? How can I model this for my children and grandchildren, friends and neighbors, without alienating everyone so much that they can’t learn from the example?
· REFLECT AND RECOGNIZE -- We have inherited tendencies from a long line of inquisitive, invasive, ingenious, insensitive people. We are part of a self-centered culture, even though we are very nice people. We do not deserve any more of the earth’s blessings than anyone else, no matter how hard we have worked, and we are using more than our share.
· REPENT -- AND REJOICE in supportive friendships, let the Spirit RE-IGNITE your enthusiasm and determination!
MORE RESOURCES RE ELECTRONICS AND RECYCLING
Online Cellphone Recycling Programs :
- Phones 4 Freedom - Donate your cellphone to help fight against human trafficking. Phones 4 Freedom refurbishes and recycles phones to help anti-trafficking organizations around the world. Free shipping available.
· In the developing world, a lack of regular channels to information and resources prevents city-based anti-trafficking advocates from providing adequate resources to rural and at-risk communities. As advocates travel from cities to do outreach education to isolated/vulnerable regions, they are often remain disconnected from those who are in critical need of regular communication. The mission of Freedom Connect’s Freedom SMS Project is to advance anti-trafficking networks in underserved communities using innovative mobile technology. Helpline SMS Networks consist of: NGOs, legal advocates, social service providers, law enforcement, and other key stake holders who act as first responders in a trafficking case. The Helpline SMS Network is able to use this mobile network to regularly stay in touch with rural communities vulnerable to human trafficking, provide regular updates and information at a low cost, and respond to emergencies and prevent trafficking. We’re using Frontline SMS, a free open-source platform that enables large-scale, two-way text messaging using only a laptop, GSM modem and inexpensive cell phones. By using this technique, we are preventing slavery and human trafficking one text at a time!
· By Donating to Phones4Freedom, Freedom Connect will earn “points” or “credits” to purchase the appropriate mobile equipment for Freedom SMS anti-trafficking networks. The average donated phone in the US will allow us to purchase 2-3 phones. You can also donate old digital cameras and mp3 players. No chargers or plugs required. Send in your phone today!
Here’s how you can donate:
- Print out a Shipping Label (btw postage is on us!) Print out labels for multiple packages. If you’re donating from Canada, please send your donation with Fedex (Account #183021400 to: CloverWireless, 794 Industrial Court, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302, Attn: Phones4Freedom Enterprise Program code: SCONNECT
- Deactivate your phone and leave the batteries in. Also, clear your personal data. To learn more visit this site. Include the charger if you have it, but it’s not necessary!
- Put the phones in a padded envelope or box (and wrap securely), paste the prepaid shipping label and drop it off at any US Post Office Box.
- And there you have it! You can get further involved with Phones4Freedom by telling your friends, family, colleagues and classmates. Print out Flyer and shipping labels for them, and pass on our information.
Are you a Group/Business/School/Place of Worship interested in starting a Phones4Freedom Drive? Read our SMS Freedom Fundraising Kit, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us here for more information.
- RBRC "Call2Recycle" - Free rechargeable battery and cell phone collection program in North America.
Home Depot, Three Rivers. -- Nottawa Lumber Do it Best, Sturgis -- Best Buy, Westnedge, Portage
- wirelessrecycling.com - find a cell phone donation box closest to you.
- RecyclePhones.org - will plant a tree for each used cell phone that it receives. Simply use the prepaid shipping label to ship your used cell phone for free recycling.
Manufacturer Take Back Programs:
- View a list of AT&T Store locations to find your nearest cell phone donation drop-off spot. Or mail in your used phone with free shipping from anywhere in the U.S. To download a postage-paid shipping label, click here.
- Cellphones for Soldiers uses funds from recycled cell phones to buy prepaid phone cards for active duty military members – to help connect them with their families.
LG Mobile Phones Recycle Program - mail in your used phone with free shipping from anywhere in the U.S with postage-paid shipping label.
Motorola: Mail-in any cell phones, PDAs and accessories for free by printing postage paid labels.
Nokia: Mail-in your unwanted phone by printing a prepaid shipping label and sending it in for free recycling.
• Nokia Trade-Up Program - get cash back for your old phone when you buy a new Nokia device.
Palm: Mail-in mobile phones, handhelds and accessories such as chargers and headsets free of charge. Download the postage paid mailing label.
Samsung: Mail-in any cell phone and accessories. Simply box up your old phone and accessories, print off the pre-paid mailing label and mail in the phone for recycling.
Sony Ericsson: Mail in old cell phone devices (any make or model) for free with postage paid mailing label.
Sprint: Sprint provides two cell phone recycling programs for consumers:
- The Sprint Buyback program offers Sprint customers an account credit for returning eligible Sprint and Nextel models.
- If it is not eligible for credit, you may recycle your phone, batteries, accessories and data card through the Sprint Project Connect program. All makes and models are accepted, regardless of carrier or condition.
- Use the store locator to find a participating store near you. It accepts wireless phones, batteries, accessories and connection cards for recycling — regardless of make, model, condition, or service provider free of charge.
T-Mobile: Consumers can drop off cellphones at any T-Mobile retail store or mail in any mobile devise and accessories by boxing them up and printing off the pre-paid mailing label. Postage paid recycling bags are included with all purchases. Customers can also pick up a recycling envelope at any T-Mobile store.
Verizon Wireless HopeLine program collects no-longer used wireless phones, batteries and accessories from any wireless service provider at Verizon Wireless Retail Stores nationwide. The phones get reburbished or recycled. With the funds raised from the sale of the refurbished phones, Verizon Wireless donates wireless phones and airtime to victims, and provides funding and other contributions to non-profit domestic violence shelters and prevention programs across the country. You can also donate wireless phones and equipment by mail using the pre-paid mailing label.
- Staples: Drop-off cell phones, PDAs, chargers, other handheld electronics, and ink and toner cartridges for free recycling. Click here for Staples store locations nearest you.
- Office Depot: Drop-off any used cell phone, PDA, batteries and accessory at any store free of charge. Click here for Office Depot store locations nearest you.
- Best Buy - Drop off old cell phones, rechargeable batteries, and ink-jet cartridges at no cost at their drop off kiosk. Click here for Best Buy store locations nearest you.
- Lowe's - Drop off rechargeable batteries, cell phones, CFLs and plastic shopping bags for free. Click here for Lowe's store location near you.
ELECTRONICS AND RELATING TO THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
For more than a century, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been plagued by regional conflict and a deadly scramble for its vast natural resources. In fact, greed for Congo’s natural resources has been a principal driver of atrocities and conflict throughout Congo’s tortured history. In eastern Congo today, these mineral resources are financing multiple armed groups, many of whom use mass rape as a deliberate strategy to intimidate and control local populations, thereby securing control of mines, trading routes, and other strategic areas.
Conflict Minerals in Your Electronics
Profit from the mineral trade is one of the main motives for armed groups on all sides of the conflict in eastern Congo - the deadliest since World War II. Armed groups earn hundreds of millions of dollars per year by trading four main minerals: the ores that produce tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold. This money enables the militias to purchase large numbers of weapons and continue their campaign of brutal violence against civilians, with some of the worst abuses occurring in mining areas. The majority of these minerals eventually wind up in electronic devices such as cell phones, portable music players, and computers. Given the lack of a transparent minerals supply chain, American consumers have no way to ensure that their purchases are not financing armed groups that regularly commit atrocities, including mass rape.
You Can Help End the War
The conflict minerals problem is complicated, and the suffering in Congo is immense. But there is good news: because we as electronics consumers are tied so directly to the problem, we can actually play a role in ending the violence.
We must raise our collective voice as consumers and demand conflict-free electronics. By pressuring electronics companies to remove conflict minerals from their supply chains, we can help remove fuel from the fire in Congo.
Help end war in Congo. Visit the TAKE ACTION CONGO website to add your voice to the movement