Guest Blogger Carolyn Jess Talks Recycling Cell Phones

We have invited Carolyn Jess back to help us out as guest blogger in 2014 with a focus on native wildlife. Jess is a 13 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. We first met Carolyn in October 2011 when she came out to the Zoo to meet our special guest Jack Hannah. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to

For the second year, my school is participating in the Action For Apes cell phone recycling challenge.  Schools and businesses are invited to take action and enter this competition.  The goal of the program is to recycle as many old cell phones as you can.  The top prize is a really cool painting done by the chimps here at the Houston Zoo.  Rasco Middle School, where I went to school last year, won the painting and it is still hanging up in the hallway.  That is great for Rasco, but now I need a chimp painting for the hallway at Lake Jackson Intermediate.  I am hoping my school will step up and accept this challenge.
action for apes

Whether my school wins or loses, the real winners are the chimps and apes that live in the African Congo.   That is where the mineral coltan is mined.  Coltan is the material in electronics that holds electric charges.  The coltan is really being mined hard on the boundary of the Kahuzi  Biega National Park.  There, the gorilla population has been cut in half due to the mining of coltan.  The forest there that was once lush and green is being torn down and dug up.  The amount of coltan that is being exported every year is increasing largely.

Coltan is mined kind of like gold was mined back in the 1800s.  Large holes are dug, layers of dirt are put into screens, and then water is added to wash away the small pieces.  What’s left are the chunks of coltan.

We can help though.  If we reduce the need for coltan by recycling our old phones and electronics, we reduce the amount of mining that needs to be done.  You can help reduce the need for mining coltan by joining the Action for Apes challenge.  Encourage your school or business to take part.  You can also take your old phones to the Houston Zoo to recycle.  (Or you can give them to me!) Even if my school does not win the painting, we have won part of this battle for the Congo by teaching people about this problem.  Be a hero and recycle your electronics today.

6 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Carolyn Jess Talks Recycling Cell Phones

  1. Carolyn, You are such a great mover and shaker! You do a wonderful job of inspiring others to do righteous things without laying on the guilt. Keep up the great work!
    Mrs. Brown

  2. Hi Carolyn –
    I was not aware that the making of cell phones was doing so much damage to our forests! I am very bothered by this and will definitely be recycling my old cell phones from now on. Your blog and this information has definitely impacted me and I am sure it will many others as well. I am going to tweet your blog link out so others will know about this and hopefully more people will start recycling phones. Of course, I would also love to see that picture at LJI! You are making a big difference so keep it up!!
    Dr. H

  3. I am so proud of our Chimp painting hanging in the halls of Rasco Middle School and really hope you can get one for LJI. Not just for how it looks, but for what it stands for…actions to protect and care for our planet. Keep it up! I am proud of YOU!

  4. This is really an interesting article. I had no idea this was happening. I’m afraid that many people are not aware of this. I think if more people were aware of what is happening to make electronics, then more people would start recycling their old electronics. I like how you spread the word through schools and your blog. You are doing an awesome job! Keep up the good work!!

  5. Carolyn,
    You have inspired me to take action! You are such a wonderful role model and I applaud you for bringing this issue to so many people’s attention. Keep it up!
    Stephanie Jansky

  6. What an interesting article. You are doing an amazing job informing us on these important issues. Keep up the great work!

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