What does 12,000 mobile phones look like?

Chris Jordan

It’s difficult for ordinary folk to put waste into perspective so American artist Chris Jordan attempts to bridge the gap with his staggering large-scale artworks. The image above depicts 2.4 million pieces of plastic, that number being the estimated number of pounds of plastic pollution that enter the ocean every hour (1088 metric tonnes).

Meanwhile this artwork here looks like a geometrical pattern you might find in a European church. It’s made up of 9,960 mail-order catalogues, which is how much junk mail is printed, shipped, delivered, and disposed of in the US every three seconds. Chris has made a skull depicting 200,000 packs of cigarettes, a bamboo forest from brown-paper supermarket bags and now, in Melbourne, a giant mobile phone made from 12,000 discarded handsets.

Why 12,000? That’s how many mobile phones are replaced, but not discarded every day in Australia. In the middle of the artwork, the number 23 represents all the mobile phones that are lurking in Aussie cupboards, unused, forgotten and going to waste.

Recycle your phones!

The point Chris is trying to make, in conjunction with Mobile Muster, is that these phones are full of precious resources that can be extracted and reused. There really is no reason to hang onto more than one working phone, which you keep as back-up. And old mobiles are not a great toy for kids, being full of cadmium, lithium, copper and other things that shouldn’t be sucked.

To find out more about Mobile Muster and how phones are recycled, click here. Enter your postcode to find your nearest drop-off point or download a free postage label.

Sustainable Living Festival

Chris Jordan’s giant mobile phone is on display in Federation Square, Melbourne, until Sunday as part of the Sustainable Living Festival. For program and events, go here.

Have a great weekend x

photo credit: Ars Electronica via photopin cc

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