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The average American has six unused electronic devices at home collecting dust. When these end up in landfills, harmful toxins leak from the devices into the Earth and water. Known as e-waste, this accounts for 70% of the world’s toxic waste.
Green tech company, ecoATM, is on a mission to reduce e-waste and ensure devices such as cellphones, laptops and tablets, have a second (and sometimes third) lease of life. Its over 4,400 automated kiosks across America trade unused devices for cash, before they are recycled or re-sold.
In early 2020, ecoATM joined forces with Rumie – a nonprofit education charity that provides learning resources to students in underserved communities, including Afghanistan, Syria and Turkey. In these countries, there are millions of children not attending school either because they don’t exist or there is a lack of qualified teachers, sanitation facilities within active schools or harmful gender norms that can be particularly detrimental to young girls.
Rumie’s smartphone app houses hundreds of free learning resources that enable these children to get an education and has so far helped over 35,000 young people access.
Rumie hopes to help thousands more, but the same problem kept arising…where do they get all these smartphones from? This is where ecoATM could play a significant role.
ecoATM briefed Manifest to create an awareness campaign highlighting education inequality and Rumie’s work. It had to not only be about words, but about actions. It must empower Americans to delve into the backs of drawers and put old smartphones to new uses.
On International Womens Day 2020, we swung open the doors to A Good Call, the world’s first reverse cellphone store in SoHo, New York. Here, phones weren’t sold, they were bought. Guests were invited to bring in their unused devices and ecoATM would purchase them off them, load them with the Rumie app and send them directly to girls in underserved communities around the world.
With the sleek, sophisticated style of an Apple store, guests of the store were greeted with everything they would expect – minimal décor, phones on display to trial and large images of the latest gadgets adorning the walls. But with A Good Call, everything was reversed.
The phones on display played videos of girls from Afghanistan talking into their cellphone’s camera about their educational experiences before and after the Rumie app. And instead of promoting fast 5G or top pixels, the photos of phones on the wall highlighted the life-changing benefits girls would gain through a smartphone. Those that were outside of New York but wanted to get involved could mail in phones directly to Rumie, thus ensuring the campaign was nationwide.
We kicked off with a launch party, inviting press and influencers to have a first look at the store. An influential, Afghanistan-born DJ opened the night and guests watched a live-streamed welcome from Rumie, on the ground in Afghanistan.
Tariq Fancy, Rumie founder
Yanyan Ji, ecoATM Chief Marketing Officer