The World in Your Hand
Updated: Oct 30, 2021
My first of the month blog posts are dedicated to the practice of Living Connected. This month we focus on the connections made by our cell phones.
Look at your cell phone; not the screen, the phone itself. Consider what it’s made of. Notice the different materials that you can see. What other materials might be inside of the phone, and where in the world do they come from? Give thanks for the many gifts of creation that make a cell phone possible.
Cell phones don’t just connect us to the world. We literally hold the world, or at least part of planet Earth, in our hand when we hold a phone. The materials in it are mined from the planet. About a quarter of a typical phone is silicon, most of which comes from China. Roughly another quarter is plastic made from fossil fuels. The rest of the phone is made of aluminum, copper, lead, zinc, and rare-earth metals mined by laborers in many countries around the world.
Consider your cell phone, again, and marvel at the people and places you touch every time you hold it. Say a prayer for all who work to protect laborers, communities, and ecosystems where materials are extracted for cell phones. How might you change the way you buy and dispose of a cell phone, and all electronic devices, to better care for people and the planet?
I invite you to try one of the following practices this month.
Read and consider how scripture might influence the way you think about electronic devices: Psalm 24:1-2; Ecclesiastes 5:10-20; Luke 8:11-15, Luke 12:13-21, and Romans 12:1-2.
Read and reflect on 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (especially Month Four: Media).
Make a list of all the electronic devices you own, including the ones no longer used or that don’t work. What does the list reveal?
Learn about the electronic waste problem.
When an electronic device stops working, go without it (i.e., “fast”) for a week before replacing it. Do you really need it? Do you have another device that can do the same function?
Before buying a new electronic device, pause and reflect on whether the well-being you’ll receive from it is worth what you’re taking from creation. Do you really need it?
Advocate for the Right to Repair electronic devices, instead of buying new ones.
Only buy devices from manufacturers or stores that offer a take back program.
Advocate for Extended Producer Responsibility laws for electronics.
Use Earth 911 to find places where you can take e-waste that you already have.