Cell Phones, Cell Phones Everywhere, but Not a One for SEA

Allison Shirley

It seems as if everyone on campus has a cell phone. Most professors have had their classes inauspiciously interrupted by a ringing cell phone, while it is virtually impossible to walk across campus without seeing students with phones attached to their ears. So, it would follow that somewhere, in the midst of all these active cell phones, there are some spare ones around as well.

This is the idea behind the Students for Environmental Action (SEA) Cell Phone Drive.

Senior SEA member Laura Andrews and former SEA member Amy Rhoades ’03 have been working together to develop a cell phone drive here on campus. Anyone can donate old and unused phones – students, staff, faculty or even members of the Hamilton community are encouraged to donate. There are boxes currently located near the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) entrances and in the library where phones can be donated.

Dropping off an unused cell phone is easy enough, but so far, few cell phones have been donated. The phones simply have to be deactivated before donation, and cannot be a bag phone or a car phone. All other cell phones are permitted and would be extremely welcomed. According to Rhoades, donating a phone is a “simple, effective way to turn someone’s trash into treasure for our cause.”

Rhoades is currently working for the non-profit organization New Community Project, which is collaborating with another organization called CollectiveGood that specializes in recycling cell phones.

“Five hundred million used cell phones are lying around in this country,” Rhoades said. “About two million are shelved or thrown in the trash every week.” That’s a lot of idle phones; phones that could be put to good use.

SEA will take the cell phones that are turned in and make sure they are recycled and then used in productive ways. They could potentially be used for parts or sold in Latin America to people and families without phones but who are in desperate need of them.

Not only is throwing phones away an unnecessary and wasteful thing to do, but cell phones contain many hazardous materials, such as mercury, cadmium, nickel and gallium arsenide, that could be potentially harmful if not disposed of properly. If these toxic materials come in contact with a water source, contamination will likely occur.

So instead of throwing away a spare or old cell phone or simply having it take up space in a residence, Andrews and Rhoades have made sure that there is another option: donating it to a good cause. This is the first cell phone drive that Students for Environmental Action has conducted, and they hope to make it a successful one.