In an effort to draw attention to their O2 Recycle program, British cellular service provider O2 is upcycling old, unwanted cell phones to give them a new lease on life. The first project sees recycled handsets and vintage footwear combined to create fully functional shoe phones that are also works of art.

According to O2, thirty million cell phones are bought in the U.K. every year, with many old phones thrown into the trash. This isn't a good idea, as cell phones contain toxic materials that shouldn't be disposed of in a landfill, but can be recycled. O2 has responded to this problem by starting their O2 Recycle program which, like similar programs around the world, buys old cellphones and other electronic devices no longer needed by their owner.

The first four "Walkie Talkies" designed by Sean Miles are based on iconic footwear including pairs of brown leather wingtips, Hunter Boot Wellingtons, Nike Air training shoes, and a set of heels from luxury French designer Christian Louboutin. Embedded neatly within the footwear are old LG and Nokia cellular phones that have been resold to O2 Recycle. Each Walkie Talkie performs exactly as a normal phone would, the keypad being incorporated into the sole of the shoe.

“I hoped that, by turning them into Walkie Talkies, I would raise a smile and perhaps a laugh and create things that people wanted once again." said Mr. Miles. "I’ve been using them while out with friends and they never fail to start a conversation, even when I’m not using them as a phone! I hope that they can get more people talking about the need to recycle old gadgets rather than binning them.”

Mr. Miles is developing additional forms of upcycled phone-embedded items (such as handbags and gloves) for the O2 Recycle Collection, which will go on display at a week-long exhibition in March. The Walkie Talkies are valued at £2,500 (US$3,930) per pair and exhibition attendees will be eligible to win all of the upcycled phones. My wife wants the heels, but I would probably settle for the wingtips.

Source: O2 Recycle