‘Don't Miss the Call’ sparks students' sense of sustainability

Published on 11/10/2021 in Customer Stories

‘Don't Miss the Call’ sparks students' sense of sustainability

Marleen Berx uses the ‘Don't Miss the Call’ campaign to make her students aware of sustainability. By encouraging them to recycle their old smartphones, she combines sustainability with their interests.

Sustainability is very much on the radar of many young people. The climate marches two years ago made that clear. In addition, sustainability occupies an important place in the curriculum. Marleen Berx teaches geography and science to students in the first four years of secondary school at WICO Campus Lommel. She is also coordinator of the joint curriculum. That means that sustainability plays a key role in all aspects of her job.

Starting with smartphones

"Sustainability is close to my heart. As a mother of three, I try to pass caring for the environment on to the pupils," the enthusiastic teacher explains. “I try to tailor my classes to the students' interests as much as possible. Consequently, the smartphone was the perfect starting-point."

In her lessons, Berx explains how many precious metals a typîcal smartphone contains, such as gold, silver, copper and cobalt, and the hard work involved in mining them. "During my search for additional information, I came across GoodPlanet Belgium, a non-profit organization that supports sustainable initiatives. One of these is ‘Don't Miss the Call’, Proximus' campaign to collect old telephones. As my husband works at Proximus, I was immediately interested."

Urban mining

Berx integrated the concept of urban mining into her curriculum. "What that means is taking raw materials not from the ground or nature but from the city. Recovering gold or silver from old smartphones is a lot more sustainable than mining the metals. The students really got that message. I also made the link with Recupel and the local Umicore, which specializes in recycling precious metals."

The initiator made ‘urban mining’ real for her pupils through the ‘Don't Miss the Call campaign’. "The young people checked how many old smartphones they still had lying around at home. I urged them to deposit as many of those unused devices as possible in the ‘Don't Miss the Call’ box in our classroom. These collected mobile phones then get a second life through reuse or the recycling of raw materials."

To me, the interest from the students is even more important than the number of devices collected. You really notice that sustainability fascinates them.

Marleen Berx - Geography and science teacher at the WICO Campus Lommel

One hundred and six collected smartphones

WICO Campus Lommel collected 106 smartphones over a short time. "I am satisfied with the result, but am convinced that the number could have been even higher had it not been for Covid. We decided to do the campaign again this year and to extend it to the second and third grades. But I think that the great interest of our students is even more important than the number of phones collected. You really notice that ecology fascinates them, which is also evident from the great popularity of the 'sustainability, climate and environment' elective in the senior years."

On top of that, the school will receive a gift. GoodPlanet Belgium will reward the efforts of Berx and her colleagues with two laptops. "Those are certainly welcome. It makes us even more motivated to put our shoulders back into ‘Don't Miss the Call’. We certainly will be just as active again this year, including using Instagram to tag our students!"

Like to know how the ‘‘Don't Miss the Call’ campaign helps the planet and what you can do? Find out more here.

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