Cherish your old cell phones and computers! Tip for Sustainable Living

Therefore strive that your actions day by day
may be beautiful prayers.
……………………………………—‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Monthly tips about sustainable living are designed to inspire you to adapt them to your personal circumstances and locale and to help you generate other ideas about how to live a more responsible life, socially and environmentally. If we all pitch in by individually reducing our consumption and adopting a simpler life, we can collectively mitigate the severity of climate change, reduce human suffering, and keep the Earth a livable place for future generations.—CHRISTINE MULLER

Cherish your old cell phones and computers!

Every choice a Bahá’í makes … leaves a trace, and the moral duty to lead a coherent life
demands that one’s economic decisions be in accordance with lofty ideals, that the purity
of one’s aims be matched by the purity of one’s actions to fulfil those aims.

………………….—Universal House of Justice, 1 March 2017

smart phone case decorated with a bowWe spend 700 billion US dollars on consumer electronics in the world every year—that’s 120 dollars per citizen on Earth. The production of electronics requires many natural resources. The average personal computer requires 240 kg (529 lbs) of fossil fuels and 22 kg (48.5l bs) of chemicals to produce. Cell phones are made from as many as 42 different minerals, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, aluminum, beryllium, copper, gold, limestone, silica, silver, and wollastonite. Electronic products usually also contain brominated flame retardants which are toxic, hormone disrupting, and have been found in people all over the world. The mining of these resources results not only in serious environmental pollution, but, for example in the case of cobalt in terrible human rights violations. Cobalt is a mineral essential to the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones and laptops. “An estimated 100,000 cobalt miners in Congo, many of them children, use hand tools to dig hundreds of feet underground with little oversight and few safety measures. Deaths and injuries are common. And the mining activity exposes local communities to levels of toxic metals that appear to be linked to ailments that include breathing problems and birth defects.”

So what can we do? Let’s hold on to our cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible to decrease the number of new productions. Your friend may have bought a new cell phone which has many new features and your colleague has a new computer that runs twice as fast as yours. But, when you consider all the social and environmental costs involved in the production of electronics, you may be happy keeping your devices until they are really at the end of their life. What to do with them at that time will be next week’s topic.

Sources:
WorldCounts: https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/consumption/other-products/electronics-environmental-impact
How Addiction to Electronics Affects the Environment & Our Lives: https://www.moneycrashers.com/are-we-addicted-to-consumer-electronics/
THE COBALT PIPELINE: Tracing the path from deadly hand-dug mines in Congo to consumers’ phones and laptops: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/batteries/congo-cobalt-mining-for-lithium-ion-battery/

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PAST TIPS BY CATEGORIES

Food
Why Eat Organic?
Eat Lower on the Food Chain
Considering Social Justice in Making Food Choices
Give Up Bottled Water—Go Back to the Tap!
Eat Less Beef
Eat Food that is in Season
Avoid Food Waste

Home
Shower Less—Cleanliness in the 21st Century
Avoid Plastics
Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
Recycle Right!
Avoid Single-Use (Disposable) Items
Save Money, Save the Planet by Insulating Your House
Go Solar!
Hang Your Laundry Out to Dry for the Children of the World
Buy Clean Energy
Do a Home Energy Audit!
Search as Service on the Web (Use Ecosia and Plant a Tree)
Clean Safely—Avoid Toxic Chemicals in Your House
Air Conditioning and Moderation
What is clean? How often should I wash my clothes?
Cherish your old cell phones and computers!

Yard
The Bees and We
Ethical and Easy Lawns
The Joy of Gardening
Do Not Kill—Avoid Toxic Chemicals in Your Garden and Yard

Transportation
Let’s Go for a Walk or Bike Ride or Car Pool to Meetings
Do Not Idle Your Vehicle
Use a local Car-Share Service

Shopping
Purchase Mindfully—Do I Really Need it?
Shop Smart, Buy in Bulk
Buy Second-Hand Clothing
Choose Reusable Shopping Bags
Shop Locally, Support Local Agriculture
Save and Reuse your Produce Bags
Avoid Excessive Packaging

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