The Half-Life of Phones

Few objects on the planet are farther removed from nature — less, say, like a rock or an insect — than a glass and stainless steel smartphone. And yet the materials of which it is made have ultimately all been abstracted from nature, resources consumed in the long chain of the manufacturing process, very few of which — apart from the packing materials — have been recycled. Nearly everyone who buys an iPhone 4 will be replacing an older phone, which means a cascade of discarded phones, some handed down to other users, some recycled, some disposed of in appropriate ways, and some simply junked.

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