Last week I participated in a ritual that’s becoming increasingly common these days: replacing a (mostly) functional cell phone. Bluetooth and my beat up phone were not playing nice, and I need to have a headset to filter out noise as I talk to clients, colleagues, and co-conspirators.
So now I find myself with a semi recent vintage RAZR huddling in my miscellaneous drawer, gathering dust. Fortunately for it, I happen to be someone who knows a bit about what to do with such a device, as I wrote about here so it will be going off to Second Rotation. Or someone else who cares to pay me a better price for my old gear. Paid? For your old cell phone? Yes.
But what if you aren’t aware of such options, and the only ones that come to mind are ones that involve going to a store and paying for the privilege of recycling your phone? Or perhaps there’s having to search the depths of your closet for that envelope that came with your old phone to send it back? Right.
It’s probably not going to happen. And so your phone joins the estimated 125 million cell phones thrown away annually in the US. Add to that all the other places in the world with even higher percentage of cell phone users, and you’ve got a sizable amount of waste on your hands. Waste that could be easily, painlessly diverted.
Sherwood Folee has a better idea:
His Just Mail It cell phone recycling program, an idea submitted in the Greener Gadgets competition, strips away nearly all of the speed bumps to phone recycling being a much more prevalent occurrence: attach a postage paid return label on the inside of your phone’s battery case cover, ready to be unfolded and used when the time comes. Simple, and brilliant. No need to go searching for the “how,” it’s been right there, all along. It’s this kind of thinking, where you put yourself in the place of the consumer, making the path as clear and painless to engage in a new behavior, that is a lesson we all could learn from.
Cell phone companies, are you listening? If you know a high level someone at such a company, please point them this way. You could be the cause a potentially enormous reduction in E-waste.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. His overarching talent is “bottom lining” complex ideas, in a way that is understandable and accessible to a variety of audiences, internal and external to a company.