Young People Declare 'One Million Cell Phone Challenge' to Turn Phones Into Loans

Denton, TX (PressExposure) April 24, 2009 -- RTEP is an initiative of The Chiapas Project, an organization dedicated to raising funds for microfinance institutions in Latin America, declaring today its One Million Cell Phone Challenge; their goal is to obtain 1 million used cell phones by New Years 2010. RTEP will use proceeds from recycled cell phones towards small business loans for poor women throughout Latin America.

Each year over 170 million cell phones are retired from use, however, less than 20% of these are recycled, according to While some of the remaining 80% of cell phones are stashed away in desk drawers, many end up in landfills and contribute to pollution. Cell phones contain at least eight toxic elements, including arsenic, lead and mercury, and one cell phone in a landfill can pollute up to 35,000 gallons of drinking water.

"There are 170 million cell phones out there, we just want 1 million. In the age of the Internet, this is possible," said 22-year-old North Texas Senior and RTEP founder Brian Weinberg.

RTEP challenges anyone to join its "free system for change" by simply visiting and requesting prepaid postage bags made of 100% recycled plastic, FREE of charge. Up to five phones fit in each bag, which can be mailed from your mailbox. In doing so (beating the challenge), RTEP can save up to 350 trillion gallons of water from likely pollution and create opportunities for 100,000 people to rise out of poverty through microfinance loans.

"It's a no-brainer," says Michelle Cunningham, City of Denton Economic Development Officer.

This Cinderella story began at University of North Texas in March 2007 and has raised over 14,000 cell phones to date. Clinton Global Initiative University awarded RTEP a grant, which supports "innovative, high-impact work that creates lasting and positive social change" (according to, followed by MTV Ashoka Youth Venture. People are taking action nation-wide, from individuals to companies like Green Mountain Energy, to support this cause.

RTEP compliments its environmental stewardship with a desire to protect humanity with the Nobel prize-winning concept of microfinance – the process of providing small loans (US$50-$100 on average) and other services for impoverished women to establish or expand micro-businesses.

Whether it's buying raw materials to create textiles or a cow to sell milk, they are able to pay back their loans and create a better life for themselves and their families with the profits earned. Typically referred to as "a hand up, not a hand out," or "teaching one to fish," microfinance yields a remarkable 97% repayment rate all around the world.

RTEP invokes nationwide action by supplying the public with a simple means to help solve a broad problem. Everyone is trying to go green for Earth Day, so why not "Turn Phones Into Loans?"

About the Chiapas Project:

The Chiapas Project is a Dallas based 501(c)3 non profit founded by prominent business and civic leaders to support microfinance programs for women in poverty in Latin America. The Chiapas Project is pleased to announce the recent completion of its $3.3 million commitment to the Grameen Foundation's Latin American Initiative. For more information, please visit [].

About Recycle to Eradicate Poverty:

Recycle to Eradicate Poverty, a program of The Chiapas Project, celebrates the last two Nobel Peace Prize concepts with action: environment and microfinance. In one sentence, they recycle used cell phones to fund microfinance loans to the poor and "Turn Phones into Loans." For more information, please visit Find us also on YouTube and facebook. CONTACT: Brian R. Weinberg, Founder, Recycle to Eradicate Poverty, +1-817-205-1813,

About The Chiapas Project

The Chiapas Project is a Dallas, Texas based 501(c) 3 non-profit, founded by Lucy Billingsley, dedicated to raising funds for microfinance institutions in Latin America.The Chiapas Project in educating young people about the concept of microfinance and allows one to help on many levels without even writing a check.

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Press Release Submitted On: April 23, 2009 at 10:37 am
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