IDEA/OPP: #CycleMyCell – Roots & Shoots Program from the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada


IDEA: #CycleMyCell – Jane Goodall Roots & Shoots Program

How can you, a student, educator or school, take action on and raise awareness surrounding the use of conflict minerals in our mobile devices and our everyday consumer choices?

You can get involved in #CycleMyCell, a sustainability education initiative and mobile phone recycling competition run by the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada as a part of their Roots & Shoots programming. 


With a growing market, competitive designs, and an ever-increasing demand for products from consumers, the global tech market is showing no signs of slowing down. Among all the positives such as innovative approaches and advancements in development being made worldwide, the relatively sudden increase of technological devices comes with a number of sustainability challenges. Two of which are the conflict minerals commonly used in mobile devices and the so-called ‘recycling’ of electronics around the world.

For more information, check out TakeAction’s “VOICE: The Life of Your Smartphone” here.

This is where the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada comes in. #CycleMyCell is a program from Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots and they are asking Winnipeg students and schools to take action and raise awareness of consumer choices and conflict minerals involved in our mobile devices. Their goal is to increase the global mindfulness of youth and to recycle electronic devices in a sustainable manner.

If you’re already sold on the idea, you can sign up your school here! If you need a little more convincing, keep reading!


The Jane Goodall Institute of Canada (JGI) is focused on recycling mobile devices because the minerals used to make cell phones (often referred to as ‘conflict minerals’) are largely mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where JGI employees work with local communities to encourage sustainable livelihoods and protect Chimpanzees.

Now, if this isn’t reason enough, consider the fact that the improper disposal of electronic waste effects the social and environmental well-being of people around the world. By not taking action in some way, our silence is helping perpetuate an unsustainable and damaging practice.

Cell phones and other electronics contain four minerals that are mined in the Congo Basin: tin, gold, tungsten, and tantalum (coltan) and the DRC possess 80% of the world’s coltan supplies. The Congo Basin, located in the DRC, is a sea of biodiversity, harboring tens of thousands of animal species including the famous Great Apes. Mining practices that are extracting these minerals destroy forest habitats where endangered Great Apes live. Not only does this affect their habitat but cutting down large swaths of forest accelerates climate change and it’s common for profits of mining practices to contribute to civil unrest and violence.

Recycling cell phones in a sustainable manner creates an alternative, sustainable solution. When mobile phones are recycled, the minerals inside of them can be extracted and reused. In fact, there is 324 times more gold in a tonne of recycled mobile phones than there is in one tonne of ore extracted from a traditional gold mine. We see this process of extraction in a number of different ways – some more harmful than others. In Agbogbloshie, the world’s largest dump for e-waste, this extraction process is often completed by burning the electronics, releasing harmful pollutants into the air, endangering local Ghanaian lives and the planet as a whole. (Learn more about this issue here.) When done in a more localized setting using more environmentally friendly techniques, the practice of harvesting and reusing materials can help mitigate climate change by lessening the amount of mining-related destruction in areas like the Congo Basin, which in turn, protects the well-being of people, animals, and the planet.


  • Students will learn about the impacts of consumer patterns and recycling; citizenship engagement; the local and global impacts of resource consumption; and the geopolitical issues underlying mining practices in Africa.
  • students will also acquire experiential learning about the concept of sustainability
  • e-waste will be diverted from landfills, carbon emissions prevented, and precious metals will be saved
  • more people will become aware of the importance, impact and underlying issues associated with cell-phone recycling.


By participating in the #CycleMyCell program, schools are committing to hosting a cell phone recycling bin in order to collect students and staff’s old phones. While collecting, students will be simultaneously raising awareness about electronics recycling and the impact conflict mineral mining has on the environment.

In addition to this, participating students will complete two short surveys via text (or paper) at the beginning and end of the program and educators will provide weekly updates on the number of cell phones recycled in order to be ranked in the competition.


Yes! I did say competition!

Not only is this campaign important and a great opportunity to get involved or plan a take action project (hint, hint, nudge, nudge), participating schools are entered to win and the top three schools, in terms of cell phone collection, will receive a cash prize!


The Jane Goodall Institute of Canada is excited to have Winnipeg high school students and schools take action! As a part of their Roots & Shoots program, #CycleMyCell provides the opportunity for students and schools to take sustainable action in an informed and manageable way. Whether you are a high school student or educator, they have you covered. By engaging in #CycleMyCell, participants will learn more about why it is important to protect Chimpanzees, the impacts of mining, and the conflict in the Congo.


This program might be the perfect fit for your take action project. Program engagement will begin in January with the program launch happening in February, just in time for the new semester! The program will go until the end of April, giving you lots of time to collect those mobile devices and plan a final hoopla for Earth Day on April 22nd!

JGI is looking for Winnipeg high school students completing the Grade 12 Global Issues course, eco/environmental clubs, and/or those involved in sustainability education and initiatives happening in their schools!


Roots & Shoots have made program involvement a little easier on you. Knowing you’re an incredibly busy bunch, upon applying, #CycleMyCell will provide you with an orientation guide and curriculum connections with links and activities for the Grade 12 Global Issues course.


The campaign provides the opportunity for students to be ambassadors of the program, lead the CMC cell phone drive and help spread the message of the campaign within their school and community.

The program and campaign touches on the following topics in the Grade 12 Global Issues course:

  • climate change, consumerism, environment, conflict and poverty
  • interdependence of environment, people and animals
  • ecological literacy
  • media literacy/manipulation
  • responsible resource extraction


Interested in learning more and taking action? Visit the Roots & Shoots #CycleMyCell campaign page and sign up today! Partner with the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada and local organizations to ensure your community’s mobile devices are disposed of sustainably and we’re taking care of our planet as global citizens!

#CycleMyCell Sign Up!

Contact Lauren Saville at for more information about the program or curriculum connections! 


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