Throwing Away Our Cell Phones

Not long ago I went into a Verizon store to buy a new charger for my cell phone. My phone is two or three years old. It does not have a camera – I already have one and I don’t need one in my phone. It’s just a phone, that’s all, and that’s all I want it to be.


I must sound like an old guy – well, I am 51.


So the girl behind the counter, she could not be older than 19, checks her inventory on the computer and finds that they don’t have a charger for my phone. I am not surprised.


Incidentally, I could gripe on and on about the obscene practice of phone manufacturers changing the power adaptors between models of phones, so we all keep having to buy chargers for $29.95, which are really $1.75 worth of wire and plastic, made in China. I must have bought more phone power adaptors over the years than any other technology gear ever.


When the girl can’t sell me a charger, she asks if I want to order one. Then the kid next to her, probably the manager, who was perhaps a few months older than she, started talking about upgrading my phone, since I was eligible.


Let’s get this straight: I can’t get a phone charger, so I might as well throw away a perfectly good phone and buy a new one, just because it’s cheap and I can.


There is something very wrong with this concept, this society, and the fact that the generation of 20 year olds doesn’t appear to think there is something wrong with that.


I pulled more statistics:


In the United States, we currently “retire” 425,000 phones a day. I venture to say that most of those phones work fine. We probably just can’t find chargers for them, or the two year upgrade period has come and we want a larger camera, or we don’t like the color anymore.


How big a pile would 425,000 cell phones be?


Take my phone, for instance. It’s 0.875 high, 2 inches wide and about 3.5 inches long. 425,000 of them would fill about 2.6 million cubic inches of space.


How much is that? I did some math and came up with a small school bus. A small school bus is about 27 feet long, 77 inches high and about 102 inches wide. So take out all the seats and fill up a school bus chock full of cell phones – and you’ll fit in about 425,000, or the number of phones we decommission in the United States every day.


I think I’ll try to find a charger on eBay.

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