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Humanity is capable of unbelievable things. We have gone from stone tools to amazing computers that fit in our pockets. The only issue is we are also great at trashing this planet we call home. But things are getting serious, and at some point we have to take action.
Most of us don’t really know how much of an issue e-waste really is. What happens to those old phones we hoard and throw away after years of living in a drawer? The first thought would be to dump it in the trash, but that mentality is bringing serious repercussions that affect our environment.
For starters, smartphones and other electronics have materials you wouldn’t want just laying around in the dump. These include PBC, lead, mercury, nickel, arsenic and much, much more. According to Causes International, a report from the United Nations University claims 41.8 million metric tons of electronic waste were produced in the world… only in 2014. That’s a lot of waste. Unfortunately we don’t have any updated numbers on electronic waste beyond 2014, but it’s a safe bet that’s it’s even larger.
It seems the USA is the main contributor, beating China by more than a million tons. To make matters even worse, our recycling rate seems to be pretty low (29 percent for the USA in 2012), and that’s something we need to change, especially considering how much the mobile industry continues to grow.
Read Next: Selling a used phone: do’s and don’ts
The best solution is recycling, so we thought we would offer a list of good options for when you need to get rid of those old phones. Don’t just throw them in the trash!
Does it work? Let someone else use it!
Is the phone still usable? The best way to recycle it is to either sell it or hand it over to someone who may need it. Remember, someone’s trash can be another person’s treasure. Check with family and friends to see if that old phone could be something they need.
This is really the best way to recycle something; just keeping it alive and stop someone from buying another phone that will go straight to the landfills.
Or continue using it…
Don’t like the idea of giving out your precious devices? There are always ways to reuse your old smartphones. I have heard of people turning these into internet-connected security cameras, music players, temporary travel phones, gaming devices, remote controls and more. Your possibilities are endless if this happens to be a smartphone. And if it’s old enough, maybe that cool hipster friend will love to use it!
Call 2 Recycle
Call 2 Recycle has been around since the early 90’s, something not many other organizations can tout. They have also helped get rid of over 100 million pounds of solid waste, and this year they are nearing the 6.5 million pounds of batteries recycled.
It’s free, and though you will make no money from this, at least you know you are helping your planet. Just use their recycling locations tool to find a participating center around you. They are all over the place (in the USA), so you will have no issue finding a center.
Cellphones for Soldiers
Life can’t be easy in the front lines, and I bet it’s not simple for our military men and women to be so far from home. Cellphones for Soldiers has been helping troops call home at no charge. Over 216 million minutes have been handed out through over 3 million calling cards. You can learn all about donating phones or funds straight from the official website. Get all the details by clicking through the button below.
Recycling for Charities
I don’t know about you, but when I give out anything for free I like to think that it goes towards a good cause, not just a company making more money. Recycling for Charities is a good way to give back to the community by helping great causes. They help a plethora of organizations and will always have a featured charity. And if you run a charity, you can even sign up to get help!
We can call out Verizon all we want for all their rubbish practices, but if their Hope Line campaign doesn’t squeeze your heart I feel like we should go in there and look for it. Big Red’s Hope Line phone recycling campaign aims to make money through refurbishing donated phones and use profits to end domestic violence. It’s certainly a great cause, and one I know will touch the hearts of many of us.
We are lucky to have enough technology to even throw away. At least that is the approach Medic Mobile’s Hope Phones campaign takes. Their idea is to get money from phones that could be resold or safely dispose of the ones that can’t be saved. These funds help them aid healthcare programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They claim each donated phone provides for 10 new phones for health workers in 21 countries.
Most of you probably have a Best Buy close to home, which means you also have a super easy way to safely recycle your electronics. The popular electronics retailer always has containers for recycling right next to their front gates. They have already properly disposed of over a billion pounds of electronics, which is a huge accomplishment. It sure is nice to see a company like this trying to help out, right? Not really a good cause, but it still helps the environment and will make donating your phones a breeze, since Best Buy is everywhere.
Donate it to a zoo?
According to the folks at Tree Hugger, plenty of zoos accept smartphones as donations. This is because the used and refurbished smartphone business can be lucrative, but at least you know these funds will go towards a worthy cause.
Some participating zoos seem to be Zoo Atlanta, Toronto Zoo, Oakland Zoo and others. Just go check if your local zoo has a similar campaign going on!
Donate to Oxfam
Oxfam is a UK-based organization with the goal of fighting poverty. They will try to save used devices, fix them and sell them. These funds will then be used to buy water tanks, wells, tools, seeds school books and other basic necessities for those who are not as fortunate to have them in abundance.
You may have noticed a pattern in this list; none of the campaigns listed make money out of this. And if they do, they use it for a good cause. OK, that’s not actually true – Best Buy makes some money, but “just barely”. It’s not really a business they are in to make a fortune from, though. The reason I listed it is because it is a very convenient recycling location, and many of us find ourselves in these stores very often.
Aside from that, all of these are good causes. And that’s what recycling is supposed to be about, right? It’s not nice to staple a good cause to any business just to make money out of it. These are some great ways to dispose of your technology. Now, if your device is in good condition and you would rather make some cash selling it (which is really another form of recycling), we also have a guide for you.
Have any of you guys tried these recycling programs in the past? How did the process go?