Sustainability made simple

What to Do With an Old Phone: 6 Sustainable Ideas

what to do with old phone
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / andreahuyoff

Wondering what to do with your old phone? Recycling your old cell phone helps reduce the extraction of raw materials and the emission of harmful gases, as well as the contamination of landfills, groundwater, and soil.

Why Recycle?

Your old phone is full of precious metals.
Your old phone is full of precious metals.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Glavo)

Our cell phones may be small enough to fit neatly into our pockets, but their environmental impact is global. These seemingly innocent little gadgets we use day-in-day-out are actually the source of immense climate change issues. 

The production of cell phones requires vast amounts of raw and natural materials that need to be extracted from the earth and processed. Gold, zinc copper, platinum, and silver are among some of the valuable materials found in our phones. But the environmental strains don’t stop there. Packaging requires plastic from crude oil and paper from trees, and transportation requires fossil fuels. On top of that, old cell phones that are thrown out with the trash risk leaking contaminants into landfills, groundwater, and soils. 

Recycling our old phones is an important step to reducing the extraction of natural materials and the emissions of toxic gases. Up to 80 percent of the materials in our cell phones are recyclable, and so should be given another life whenever possible. The EPA estimates that for every 1 million old cell phones recycled, we can recover an estimated 772 pounds of silver, 35,000 pounds of copper, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium. 

Read on: Precycling: How to Say No to Packaging Waste

6 Sustainable Ideas for Recycling Your Old Phone

If you have old phones lying around your home or are thinking of getting a new one, read these six practical tips and ideas to find out what to do with your old phone, without damaging the environment.   

Read on: 5 Reasons Why You Should Turn Off Your Phone

1. Donate Your Old Phone or Give It Away

One person’s trash is another man’s treasure. Why not ask around your family or friends to see if anyone needs a phone?

Or better yet, donate your old cell phone to a charity for someone who really needs it. You can donate it via rainforest connection, 911 Cell Phone Bank or another charitable organization that you want to support.

2. Recycle It

Recycling your phone goes a long way towards supporting the environment.
Recycling your phone goes a long way towards supporting the environment.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Clker-Free-Vector-Images)

Do a quick internet search to see where your nearest electronics recycling center is. They will take apart the phone and recycle the parts to make new cell phones or new products. Metals are reused and made into jewelry, plastic is reused in other electronic appliances, or recycled into automobile parts and garden furniture. Batteries are recharged and made into new batteries.

There are probably places you can visit in the city you live in that will recycle your old smartphone. You can find them via government websites or with a quick google search. 

Read on: Black Plastics: Why Are They So Bad for the Environment? 

3. Sell It

Why not make yourself a little extra pocket money while also contributing to reducing waste and minimizing your environmental impact? There are loads of websites out there where you can sell your old phone and give it another life with someone else. Here are a few places to get started:

4. Trade It

Check with your mobile carrier to see if you can trade in your old cell phone. They might be happy to take your old phone off your hands and give you credit towards a new one.

5. Backup Cell Phone

Forgot your phone on the bus? Dropped it in the toilet? Smashed the screen? If you need a quick-fix for when you are phone-less, having a backup is a godsend. Just unlock your old phone and add a pay-as-you-go sim (some are as cheap as $2 per day). You’ll thank yourself later.

Read on: How To Clean Your Phone: Keeping It Clean and Germ-Free

6. Mp3 Player

If your old cell phone still works, you can put it to good use!
If your old cell phone still works, you can put it to good use!
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Firmbee)

If your old cell phone is still functional, why not download all your favorite music onto it and use it as an mp3 player? This is a great solution for when you don’t have enough space on your phone for all or music, or for when you are poolside or at the beach and are worried about water damage.

Read more:

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