WMU News

Recycled cell phones support Special Olympics

June 14, 2005

KALAMAZOO--Members of the Western Michigan University community can help alleviate a growing environmental problem and make a contribution to a worthy charity at the same time. Best of all, it doesn't cost anything.

Collection points for used cell phones have been set up at three West Campus locations, and for each cell phone recycled, RMS Communication Group is donating $5 to Special Olympics.

Cell phone collection boxes are located at the copy center on the second floor of Waldo Library, in the Bernhard Center at the candy counter and at the main desk in the Student Recreation Center, says Edie Wirtshafter, who is coordinating the campus campaign. Wirtshafter is a senior regional manager for Special Olympics Michigan and an adjunct faculty member in WMU's Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

Typical cell phone users replace their phones about every 18 months. Estimates vary, but there may be more than 30 million cell phones in the United States that are no longer being used and have not yet been discarded. Most of those phones will end up in public landfills.

Recycling cell phones, computers and other electronic equipment is a rapidly growing environmental concern. Typical cell phones may contain arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and other highly toxic materials. If discarded in public landfills, these poisonous materials can get into water supplies, posing serious health risks to wildlife and people.

Collection of used cell phones to benefit Special Olympics will continue through January 2006 and is being sponsored at WMU by the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

For more information, contact Edie Wirtshafter at <edie.wirtshafter@wmich.edu> or (269) 387-1079 or visit Special Olympics Michigan at <www.somi.org>.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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