Your Used Cell Phone Can Protect Rainforests [Video]

illegal logging sensor made of used cell phones

What did you do with your last used cell phone when you upgraded to a newer model? Recycled it? Sold it? Threw it away? Unfortunately, that last option still seems to be the preferred method of dealing with our old electronics: despite more and more options for dealing with our electronic waste responsibly, 130 million cell phones still end up in the trash each year… and that’s just in the US!

A TED talk from last Fall shows another really interesting way to dispose of that phone: donate it for protecting rainforests. Start-up social enterprise Rainforest Connection takes used smart phones, connects them to a specially designed solar panel array (also made from cast-offs), and then positions in forest land to pick up the sounds of illegal tree harvesting.

Why is this necessary? Can’t people in sanctuaries just listen? Yes, but as Rainforest Connection founder Topher White demonstrates in his TEDxCern talk above, the forest itself protects these loggers by masking the sounds of their activity. His listening contraption picks them up immediately, and allows for direct confrontation with the loggers. According to an infographic created by the organization, this represents a vastly improved time frame: satellite detection of illegal logging takes a week… and, of course, the loggers are long gone by that point. The Rainforest Connection devices a can pick up these sounds within a 1 km radius.

Take a few minutes to listen to his talk, and see the work he and others are doing in the world’s rainforests. If you know of similar efforts to use readily-available technology, even gadgets headed for the recycling center (or, unfortunately, the landfill), tell us more… And if you want to send your used smartphone to Rainforest Connection,Β you can find the address here.

Featured image credit: Rainforest Connection

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