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Answer the Call: Recycle Your Cell Phone to Save Species!

By Fia Turczynewycz, Sustainable Communities Advocate, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and RRT Family Member

Greetings, RRT Community! I am an outdoor adventurer at heart. I love to hike along trails, explore forests, paddle down rivers, soak up the sun while skipping through prairies, and climb to the tops of mountains. As much as I would love to be off the grid during these adventures, more often than not, I find myself with my phone in my pocket for a number of reasons. Safety being the number one reason, but I might also use it to access maps and directions, use a compass, check the time, and snap the occasional photograph to document the awesome adventure in progress. Did you know that when carrying a phone in your pocket, you’re also carrying a piece of gorilla habitat? Cell phones contain an ore in them called coltan, which is mined in endangered gorilla habitat in Africa. This mining of coltan causes loss of habitat, pollution, and hunting – all serious threats to gorillas, their future, and the other plants and animals that share the same habitat. Reducing the demand of coltan will help reduce these threats and save species at the same time.

One way to reduce the demand of coltan is to recycle your cell phone! In addition to protecting gorilla habitat, recycling your cell phone will also keep dangerous substances from entering our local environment. Metals such as antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, copper, and lead, linger in the environment for a long time – leaching into our groundwater and soil, having adverse effects on human health and the health of local ecosystems.

There are more than 270 million cell phone users in the United States alone, and 4.1 billion users worldwide. On average, an American buys a new cell phone every 18 months, and less than 1% of the millions of cell phones discarded each year are actually recycled.

So how does one recycle their cell phone? Roads, Rivers, and Trails is now a proud partner of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Project Saving Species. Bring your old phones and chargers to RRT and drop them in the cell phone recycling box. Once the box is full, the Zoo will pick it up and ship it to our partners at Eco-Cell, a Louisville-based company that recycles every unusable cell phone they receive under strict EPA guidelines. They reuse, resell, or donate any phones that are still functioning once all data is cleared. Phones that can’t be reused are recycled with Access FTC, and all accessories are recycled with HOBI.

In addition to recycling your cell phone, consider using your current device for as long as possible, rather than upgrading to the latest and greatest as soon as it comes out. You can also recycle other electronics such as televisions, computers, radios, and more with our friends at Cohen, who has recycling locations throughout the Cincinnati region.

Help protect the wild spaces and places we love to explore, and answer the call! Support Project Saving Species and gorillas and recycle your cell phone. Questions on this project or other ways you can help the planet? Don’t hesitate to reach out – fia@cincinnatizoo.org.

Join me at RRT on January 22nd, 2019 at 7pm to hear more stories about what the “Greenest Zoo in America” is doing to save natural resources and support its community.

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Photo Credit to Lauren McClure and Warren Spreng

Live Hopeful. Act Global.

Taking Action

by Will Babb

If you’re reading this, chances are you, like me, have a passion for being outside, traipsing across mountains and down rivers. If that’s the case, I’m fairly confident you also care about environment sustainability. It doesn’t take an expert to realize that our environment is at a crucial point, in need of action. Many people are under the illusion that the only way to protect the earth from pollution, climate change, resource consumption, and a variety of other issues are through giant, expensive actions. While coating the entire surface of Kansas in wind turbines could have a tremendous impact on some of the current environmental issues, doing so isn’t practical.

I’d like to place an emphasis on the often-overlooked smaller actions that are easy to incorporate into your life and still can have an impact. This summer, RRT would like to challenge you to take on these 6 small actions through out “Live Hopeful. Act Global” Campaign. Although small, through collective action these ideas can have an impact. I challenge you to do these, but the goal is that in doing so you form eco-friendly habits that continue beyond this summer.

 

  • No Straws

According to The Plastic Pollution Condition, over 500 million plastic straws are used in the United States each day. Inevitably, a good portion of these straws end up in the ocean, where they contribute to the nearly 46,000 pieces of plastic in each square mile of ocean. To help put that into perspective, take a look at artist Chris Jordan’s stunning rendition of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” that depicts just how much plastic that is. Check out a few of his other artworks in “Running the Numbers” if you’re interested in seeing a bit more about this issue and others. This month, try to go without using any plastic straws. Request your drink without them, or bring a reusable straw if you absolutely must use one. It’s a small piece that people don’t realize contributes to pollution, but it’s enough of an issue that Seattle has banned plastic straws to combat increased pollution.

 

  • Reusable Water Bottles and Coffee Mugs

This is an issue that I struggle with on a near daily basis. It’s too easy to walk down the street and grab my usual cup of coffee from the Main Cup, then throw that cup away a half hour later. Try grabbing a Yeti Rambler instead or take a mug with you to the coffee shop and save the waste. In just a month I’ve made using a Yeti mug a habit. If coffee isn’t for you, try a Nalgene water bottle instead of disposable plastic bottles. Around 400,000 plastic bottles are used each minute in the US, so pick up reusable water bottle or a snazzy Yeti mug at RRT to help put an end to excessive waste.

 

  • Reusable Containers Instead of Plastic Bags

I’ve got a bad habit of packing my lunch for work in Ziploc bags almost every day. I’ll throw my sandwich and crackers into separate plastic bags because that’s the easiest way to pack. I’ve challenged myself not to do this anymore, however. I’m now taking a few extra minutes in the morning to pack my food into plastic containers that I can easily wash and reuse. If you do the same, it’ll make quite an impact on plastic pollution.

 

  • Reusable grocery bags

Try bringing your own grocery bags to the store instead of using plastic bags over and over again. Look here for a staggering glimpse at just how many plastic bags the world consumes- 240,000 every ten seconds. On average, each of these bags is only used for twelve minutes. It’s not just the pollution from thrown-out bags that is damaging the environment. The ecological cost of producing plastic is quite detrimental. If you can go without plastic bags for a month, and even beyond that, the world might end up a bit cleaner. I think you’ll find that once you get into the habit of using reusable bags, it’s just as easy.

 

  • Locally grown produce

You might not realize it, but the carbon pollution that goes into producing your store-bought fruits and vegetables is astounding. The global food system is responsible for a significant amount of global greenhouse gas emissions, with the transportation of food products being one of those contributors. Buying locally grown produce from a farmer’s market can impact these emissions by cutting back on the carbon emissions associated with transporting produce grown across the country to local distributors.

 

  • Skip one drive per week

Automobiles are another huge contributor to fossil fuel combustion and greenhouse gas emissions. With 260,000 gallons of gasoline burned in the US every minute, the ecological cost of driving is extremely high. My challenge is to skip one drive per week- walk to the grocery store, bike to work, or share a ride with a friend. Cutting out one drive each week is a good start to slowly decreasing the incredible fuel costs on the environment.

 

Interested in joining the “Live Hopeful. Act Hopeful” Campaign by implementing these small actions into your daily routine? Head over to our Facebook page to comment with summer commitment and get rewarded with an in-store 20% discount!

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