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Please don't trash your perfectly good Lightning cables! Do this instead
On September 12, 2023, Apple launched the iPhone 15 series. One of the most significant updates to the phones is the removal of the Lightning port. New iPhones will instead have a USB-C port, at least for the time being, the same one nearly all Android phones have used for the better part of the last decade. MacBooks, most iPads, and many other Apple products have been using USB-C for years and will not use Lightning again, so a significant portion of iPhone 15 buyers will have no more devices with Lightning ports. This presents a new problem: Lightning cable recycling.
If you’ve been an iPhone user for years, you probably have multiple Lightning cables in your life. Now that you don’t need them, your first instinct might be to throw them away. However, please don’t do this. If the millions of people we expect to buy an iPhone 15 do that, landfills around the world will get a sudden surge of trash. Considering the landfill crisis we face here in the United States and worldwide, it’s our responsibility to do whatever we can to extend the lives of those cables as long as possible.
To help you out, here are the Lightning cable recycling methods we suggest.
Give your old Lightning cables to friends and family
The iPhone 15 series has USB-C ports, but millions of old iPhones are still in use that don’t. You probably know dozens of people with recent iPhones and no plans to upgrade anytime soon. Why not give those folks your old cables?
It will be many years before everyone has upgraded to a USB-C iPhone. The 2022 iPhone 14 series — which all use Lightning ports — will probably see software updates from Apple until 2028, at least. The iPhone 13 and iPhone SE series are still popular and actively sold by Apple. That means even folks who do decide to buy a new Apple phone could still end up needing Lightning cables.
Your friends and family will probably still need Lightning cables, so why not hand them out?
A good method for distributing your stock would be to keep all your now-unneeded Lightning cables by your front door. Whenever an iPhone-using friend or family member visits you, ask them if they need a cable. Remind them that it’s useful to have a cable in your car for Apple CarPlay connections and one in your backpack for emergencies. Through this method, you’ll probably get rid of all your cables in just a few weeks.
Of course, be sure to emphasize to anyone who accepts your old Lightning cables that they should hand them off to someone else when they no longer need them. The goal is to keep up with Lightning cable recycling as long as possible!
Donate to a Lightning cable recycling program
If you don’t know any iPhone users — or simply don’t want to deal with slowly giving your cable collection away to people you know — consider using an electronics recycling program. The advantage here would be getting rid of all your cables (and any other unused electronics) in one swoop.
Here in the United States, visiting your local Best Buy is the easiest way to handle your Lightning cable recycling. Every Best Buy location has a recycling container near the entrance. The company will certainly accept your Lightning cables, but it will also take anything else you have. Just throw everything into a plastic bag and put the whole thing — bag and all — into the recycling box. Best Buy will handle it from there. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
If you don’t live in North America or don’t have a Best Buy close to your home, you can explore alternative ways to donate your cables. A good idea would be to contact your local public schools. Most schools have technology programs, and they might be able to use some Lightning cables. Even if they can’t, they will almost certainly be able to point you to other STEM-related programs in your area that do need them. Likewise, there could be city programs in need of technology donations. Programs related to seniors in your area could probably use Lightning cables, for example.
Use adapters to prolong the life of your Lightning cables
We strongly advise using one of the previous two options for your recycling needs. However, if you have no interest in donating your cables, you can always buy adapters that will allow you to continue using the cables with your USB-C devices — including your iPhone 15.
The xPOWR Lightning to USB-C adapter allows you to use a Lightning cable with a USB-C device for charging and data transfer. In other words, you stick this adapter on the Lightning end of your existing cable and can then use it with USB-C-only devices. However, these adapters only allow for charging and data transfer — they won’t work with headphones.
If you have Lightning headphones you love and want to use them with your iPhone 15, the UGREEN USB-C to Lightning Audio Adapter is a good choice. Note that this only supports audio and not charging or data transfer.
The fact that there isn’t one adapter that supports charging, data transfer, and audio makes this method tricky when it comes to Lightning cable recycling. It also involves you a) spending money and b) adding more trash to the world later when you no longer need these adapters. As such, we ideally recommend not going this route, but if you need to, the products here are good options.
What do you plan to do with your Lightning cables? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to share this article with anyone you know who’s buying an iPhone 15! We can make the world a greener place if we all work together.