Like most folks addicted to mobile; I have gadget envy. I really want a new phone to replace my aging Blackberry, and have my eye on a hot new Android device with cool features that makes my three year old phone look positively Jurassic.
But, when I replace my old phone, I want to make sure the personal data I have stored on it isn’t compromised, and I want to recycle it to protect the environment.
These are very real concerns. A smartphone has all sorts of personal information on it that you wouldn’t want to share with people who could use it to steal your identity or harm you in some other way.
First, you should backup your contact data so you can have access to on your new phone. Then you should erase any personal information from your old phone. Blackberry has some good suggestions for how to do this.
Recycling your mobile phone can also help ensure our future access to vital technology.
While an obvious environmental concern is that the phone’s plastic and electronic parts can break down in landfills and contribute to groundwater pollution; a less obvious but potentially far more pressing concern is reducing dependence on China for so called “rare-earth” minerals.
Rare earth minerals are necessary for the production of a host of products we use for communication, transportation, and even military defense.
China produces 97% of the world’s supply of the 17 rare earth minerals used in mobile phones, green technology like that used in hybrid cars, and in military applications such as such as jet-fighter engines, stealth aircraft, and geo-synch satellites.
But, while China has a corner on the market; they plan to reduce rare earth exports by 70%. That’s because even though the minerals assist in the production of “green” technology solutions; mining them is extremely difficult and toxic to the environment.
This recently prompted the US Geological Survey to warn congress that the reduction of Chinese rare earth exports and an expected 8% per year increase in demand for the minerals poses a very real threat to US supplies.
So, before you throw out, sell, or recycle your old mobile phone; take some time to protect your data, and to protect the environment by doing it the right way. We’ll all share in the benefits if you do.