Raising awareness in a fun way

The success story of mobile phones and smartphones is remarkable: nowadays there are more of these communication devices on our planet than there are people. However, one man's joy is another man's woe, for numerous resources are used to produce the devices and these resources are lost after a relatively short period of use in most cases as a result of improper waste disposal. The “MineHandy” (my mobile phone) project now aims to exert an influence here using a fun approach, to raise public awareness of the need to utilise finite resources carefully, thereby contributing to climate protection.

Around 124 million mobile phones are lying around unused in drawers in Germany. If the devices are disposed of, this is usually done incorrectly via the household waste system. Very few people realise that important resources are lost with every mobile phone that is disposed of in an incorrect way or not at all. This is why the “Handy-Aktion NRW” (NRW mobile phone initiative) was formed. Old mobile phones and smartphones are collected via the initiative in order to professionally refurbish and reuse them, or to recycle them in an appropriate way and recover the raw materials. The “MineHandy” project was set up to support the initiative and promote its success, particularly amongst younger members of the target audience. The digital game of the same name that was developed by the project focuses on the ecological and social challenges posed in the value chain of mobile phones. This educational approach allows the project to raise and reinforce awareness of the sustainable use of resources, particularly amongst younger users.

Engine for progress:

  • Raising young people’s awareness of the subject of sustainability
  • Reduction in CO2 emissions through professional recycling of mobile phones
  • Huge potential in households in Germany

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Photo: Johanna Schäfer, Amt für Mission, Ökumene und kirchliche Weltverantwortung

A mobile phone contains about 60 different raw materials. Refurbishing and recycling mobile phones protects the environment and saves resources – this is a photo of Handy-Aktion NRW’s mobile phone collection box.

A game world provides information on mobile phone consumption

Based on the popular computer game “Minecraft”, and in collaboration with some young technophiles, the “MineHandy” project developed a game world which provides its users with information about mobile devices – ranging from the extraction of the raw materials and the production process, right up to the disposal of the device. The players take on the role of journalists who set out on a voyage of research in the game world and collect information for an article through the various tasks they have to fulfil. The game thus makes its users aware of the social and ecological impacts of mobile phone production in a fun way and suggests what action they can take. The “MineHandy” game is available to download free of charge from the Handy-Aktion NRW website. An accompanying teachers’ booklet gives suggestions on how the game can be used in the field of youth work.

Potential impact for resources and for climate protection

In the course of its campaign, Handy-Aktion NRW has already managed to collect 11,650 mobile phones and to recycle them in the correct way, thereby achieving a reduction in CO2 emissions of more than 550 tonnes. The potential that still exists is considerable: in Germany alone, around 25 million mobile phones are purchased every year. “MineHandy” represents an important educational initiative aimed at further increasing recycling levels. Through this innovative solution of using a popular game at an early age to draw attention to consumption-related issues, the players’ own awareness of the problem is raised and at the same time they become multipliers who spread the knowledge they have gained to other people.

Photo: SÜDWIND e.V.

“We are impressed by the commitment with which the youngsters with experience in computer games independently developed and programmed MineHandy with our professional support. Many of them were also involved at a later stage, as experts in the game and subject matter, in the distribution of the mini game.

Eva-Maria Reinwald, Specialist promoter for global economy and human rights, SÜDWIND Institute

Partners and sponsors

  • SÜDWIND e.V.
  • Tecklenburg Youth Training Centre
  • Evangelical Academy of Saxony-Anhalt
  • Ministry for Mission and Ecumenism of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland
  • Evangelical Church of Westphalia (EKvW) Department for Youth Work
  • Open Globe – One World Network NRW
  • Department for Mission, Ecumenism and Church Responsibility of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia
  • Bread for the World – Protestant Development and Relief Agency
  • Evangelical Church of Westphalia
  • Department for Mission, Ecumenism and Church Responsibility of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia