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Economy and Conservation

Recycle Your Cell Phone - Save a Gorilla

Cell phones, and many other consumer electronics products, use metals and hazardous materials for different circuit board functions. These raise some environmental concerns:

  • Mining of metallic ores destroys ecosystems through acid mine drainage, erosion, sedimentation, dust, habitat alteration, surface and groundwater pollution, and chemical releases.
  • Many metals used in electronics are scarce, which expands the exploitation of the mines and surrounding environments.
  • Electronics taken to landfills can leach hazardous materials (such as lead, mercury, and other heavy metals) into soil and groundwater and incineration pollutes water and air (Hint: the water you drink and the air you breath!).

One of the necessary metals of cell phones is called tantalum, which comes from a scarce metallic ore called coltan.  80% of the world’s supply of coltan is in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place full of breathtaking national parks and ecosystems.

Mining of coltan has thrown the region into poverty and has stripped much of the surrounding environment, including the habitats for the Mountain Gorilla and other large animals. Additionally, many of the subsequent gorilla casualties are sold to miners as “bush meat”.

How can we help?  ALWAYS recycle your electronics at appropriate facilities (throwing cell phones in the trash is now illegal, anyway, so you might as well!). Here is a site to help you find a recycling location near you.
      Purple Flower
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