Popsci has a list of five ways I’m supposedly killing the environment. One of them is upgrading to that new iPod or iPhone:
What happens when you toss your old cellphone or computer monitor in the Dumpster? First, you’re contributing toxins like mercury, lead and cadmium into the environment. By some estimates, there are 500 million discarded cellphones in the U.S. alone. Second, you’re wasting precious resources: Electronics contain small amounts of precious metals like gold, silver and coltan, all of which can be reclaimed to reduce often environmentally destructive mining operations. What can you do? Plan your electronics purchases wisely—think about a new phone every three or four years, instead of every six months—and always drop your e-waste off at a recycling center.
Justin’s Solution: Upgrade anyway, help the economy and donate your old phone, sell it to someone else or recycle if it’s broken. Who throws a nearly-new iPhone in a dumpster anyway?
Living in the Burbs
Your little house may be cute, but under its toxic vinyl siding, it’s an environmental monster. Add the average 25-minute daily commute an American suburbanite makes to the emissions from a lawnmower (one hour of pushing is equivalent to 100 miles of driving), the toxic chemicals put on lawns, and the loss of green space and farmland created by sprawl, and your enviro-mojo drops pretty low. Compare that with an urban condo where you can bike to work or take mass transit and skip the lawn care, and downtown begins to seem a little rosier.
I moved to the city from the burbs and live five miles from downtown now. I drive a fuel-efficient vehicle and spend only 7-10 minutes commuting most days. PLUS, I mow my lawn for an hour with an electric mower. I buy my energy from renewable resources and recycle as much as I can based on what’s near me. I’ve probably got a carbon footprint in the lowest rung of U.S. residents.