On Earth Day, everyone thinks about how they could be a little better to the planet. But what if you could be better to the plant and some of the most vulnerable people living on it with one free and easy action — recycling your cell phone? That old phone that's been lying in a drawer since you upgraded could be a lifeline for a human trafficking victim in Nepal or an invaluable resource for a shelter in Vietnam. And Phones 4 Freedom is transforming old phones into new tools for abolition.
The Phones 4 Freedom plan is so simple and brilliant, I'm frankly a little mad I didn't come up with it. Go to their website, and print out a mailing label. Then put your old phone (with all personal info cleared, of course) in an envelope/box/bubble mailer, slap the label on, and drop is off at any place the U.S. Postal Service collects mail. It's free (you don't have to pay for postage, even), it's incredibly easy, and it takes no more than five minutes. Plus, it means that instead of taking up space in a landfill and eventually leaking chemicals into the earth, your phone gets a new life.
And what does that new life look like? It might go to Nepal, to help community organizations which help women trafficked into the sex industry discretely text information to law enforcement, community partners, and local shelters, allowing them to safely remove women and kids from brothels. It might be sent to a remote part of Vietnam, to help organizations serving trafficked people to share information and help each other. Or it might stay here in the U.S., acting as a helpline for trafficking victims to reach out for help. Either way, it will be a welcome tool for group fighting human trafficking.
The use of mobile phones is skyrocketing in both the developed and developing world, and in areas where human trafficking is rampant. SMS text messaging is popular for recreational use, but it can also be a vital tool in investigating human trafficking and rescuing victims. Texting is fast, discrete, silent, and cheap — all desirable traits for a communication system for community organizations fighting, in some cases, massively powerful organized crime syndicates. This technology can truly be a lifeline to those fighting human trafficking.
The Phones4Freedom Campaign is a partnership between wireless recycling company The WirelessSource and anti-slavery nonprofit Survivors Connect. In addition to phones, The WirelessSource can recycle other used electronics such as mp3 players, computers and more. For every old electronic gadget you send in to be recycled, The WirelessSource will give Survivors Connect credits to purchase back phones and other equipment needed to build SMS networks in communities around the world.
Check out their website today, and do something good for the planet and the people living on it. Because everyone should be free to enjoy the earth responsibly.