Published on September 22nd, 2008 | by Zachary Shahan


Five Green Ways to Dispose of That Old Cell Phone

[image by IamSAM]

The average American replaces an old cell phone with a new one about every year and a half. With around 256 million cell phone users in the U.S., that’s a lot of electronic waste. Because we replace them so often, cell phones are major contributors to the “wireless waste” in this country.

Cell phones contain a number of toxins that build up in the environment over time, like arsenic, antimony, beryllium, cadmium, copper, lead, nickel and zinc. These chemicals are linked to all sorts of nasty health problems, such as neurological disorders and cancer. That’s the bad news. The good news is, there are lots of free, easy ways to safely dispose of your old cell phone and keep it out of the landfill. Rather than pitching your old phone in the trash, check out a few ways you can use your old phone to do good or even score some cash!

  1. If you’ve ordered anything lately from Amazon.com, you’ve probably received a postage-paid plastic bag from Cell Phones For Soldiers. This organization accepts phones with or without the battery and supplies them to U.S. troops stationed around the world.
  2. Charitable Recycling Program takes donated cell phones and refurbishes them. These refurbished phones are sent to communities in the U.S. and world-wide to provide safety and communication for folks in need.
  3. American Cell Phone Drive allows you to search by zip code and choose a charity within your community to benefit from your cell phone donation. The phones are refurbished and distributed or recycled for cash that the organization then gives to the charity of your choice.
  4. Recycling for Charities is another group that gives to the charity of your choice. In addition to cell phones, they accept old PDA’s and iPods.
  5. If you’re not feeling so charitable, Cell for Cash might be the best choice for you. They will recycle your old phone and pay you in cash. They don’t accept all makes and models, but if your phone is not on their list, they will still take it off of your hands and donate it to 911 Cell Phone Bank.

Whether you opt to go with a charitable donation or trading in your old phone for some cash money, there are some really great options out there for safe cell phone disposal. With the sheer number of phones being replaced each year, there have to be more than just these five organizations out there. Are there any cell phone donation groups out there that I missed?

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

6 Responses to Five Green Ways to Dispose of That Old Cell Phone

  1. The most important thing to remember is not to buy one of those Hop-on throw away mobile phones. As said in this blog, these mobile phones are utter absurdity. In times when people start to think – and hopefully live – a bit more sustainable and more ecologically, those kind of devices are not justified.

  2. Yes, good one! Those disposable cellphones are madness!

  3. Vivekananda Baksi says:

    But the truth is you can’t resist temptation of having new model of cellophone, if your pocket permits. So, it’s not realistic to say that don’t buy new phone, rather we should know how to dispose them safely.

  4. Thank you for promoting responsible cell phone recycling! It’s important for consumers to remove the personal data from their cell phones prior to recycling them. You can access a free online Cell Phone Data Eraser tool at the Cell Phones for Soldiers link in the post, or also on our corporate website: http://www.recellular.com.

  5. Jesse says:

    Another great place to recycle your used cell phone or ipod is http://www.cellitused.com – they are a very easy to use service!

  6. Pingback: Cell Phones: The Handheld Danger for Young Pedestrians

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