One Person's Trash Could Save Another's Life


"I was hit with this statistic, that we're discarding 500,000 cell phones every single day," he said. "That means half a million phones are going into trash cans, and desk drawers daily."

Ninety percent of old phones are put in the trash or stored in drawers. Each phone is worth between $15 and $50. Nesbit realized that by recycling just 1 percent of those phones, he could raise money to buy new phones for a million health workers.

"Your old phone will turn into two or three phones for health workers. Every one of those phones will connect another 50 to 100 families to emergency services and essential services," Nesbit said.

With the money from old phones in the United States, 50 million people in Africa and across the globe can get better healthcare. Nesbit's little idea has gone global.

With the help of Isaac Holeman, Nadim Mahmud and Dieterich Lawson, Nesbit created Medic Mobile, a nonprofit organization working in Malawi and about 10 other countries, helping approximately 3.5 million patients.

Nesbit also helped coordinate the 4636 Project, an effort to create an emergency communications channel after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Working with the Office of Innovation at the U.S. Department of State, technology providers and Haitian mobile operators, a system was created to process text messages expressing urgent needs from the ground.

Using crowd-sourced translation, categorization and mapping, reports were created for first responders within five minutes of receiving an SMS. More than 80,000 messages were received in the first six weeks of operation, focusing relief efforts for thousands of Haitians.

"It's your trash, but it turns into value, it turns into lives saved really quickly," said Nesbit.

But Mobile Medic needs phones, any kind of phones, and if you recycle your old cell phone through their Hope Phone program, they can get enough credit to buy up to 20 new phones for health workers.

To find out how you can set up your own collection site or donate your phone, go to

You can also send your old phone to:

Hope Phones Recycling Center 794 Industrial Court Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302

To find out how to send a phone and receive a postage-paid mailing label from Hope Phones, click HERE. And to find out about starting a collection dive in your area, click HERE.

The "Be the Change: Save a Life" initiative is supported in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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