If you are like most people, odds are that your old cell phone or old phones are sitting gathering dust in a drawer or box at your home.
Maybe you believe that you might actually use that outdated but technically still-functional old Nokia one day again. Or maybe you never got around to transferring all the old phone numbers. Or perhaps it holds a certain sentimental value and you just can't seem to part with it.
Almost statistically as likely are the odds that you also still have an old PC or laptop sitting around the house (or garage or storage unit) as well, even though you won't be using that anymore either. Add up all of these obsolete electronic components in every household and you have a lot of future e-waste -- something that is already a serious problem with chronic potential on global scale.
Old unused cell phones, obsolete computers, cameras, old TVs, and various other assorted outdated or busted electronic units and parts are all part of the mounting global e-waste problem since they eventually will be dumped. And e-waste, like global warming, is a very serious pending problem for the earth and its inhabitants.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that there are approximately 500 million obsolete computers with millions and millions of unwanted cell phones being retired annually. Even by 2005 the United States Geological Survey estimated that there were already half a billion old unused phones in the US. In total the USA owns approximately 3 billion electronic products with approximately 2.2 billion tons becoming e-waste annually. And most of this e-waste gets shipped to poorer countries like China, India, and Nigeria.
The problem with e-waste such as old electronics like computers and cell phones is that they are highly toxic -- made out of metals and plastics and other non-biodegradable components that are complex and hence expensive to separate. Old computers are loaded with hazardous chemicals. Mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, cobalt, zinc, chromium are among some of the toxic materials found in your average PC. And when they are dumped improperly (which is usually the case), these chemicals seep into the environment or are dumped into rivers, or more immediately poison the poor workers in third world countries who, to eek out a measly living, are contaminated by the toxins and lack of protection in their working conditions.
So what do we do? How and where do we get rid of our e-waste? For starters, environmentalists suggest, try not to keep buying new electronic items when you really don't need them. And then when you are finished with them, dispose of them immediately and correctly.