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What Have You Done With Your Old Cell Phone?

2008 July 17

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Lea la versión en español a continuación de esta entrada en inglés.
Some links exit EPA or have Spanish content. Exit EPA Disclaimer

Modern technology enables us to be connected 24-7. Whether it’s via a computer, a PDA or a cell phone—most of us have some portable device to connect with family, friends, or work at a moment’s notice. Some of us rely on modern technology to be “connected” to the office even while away. (I recently committed that egregious act—repeatedly– during a recent family vacation). Others rely on the cell phone to text to or chat with friends about their daily comings and goings.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have four daughters. My 6 year old still does not have a cell phone, but she’s quite tech-savvy for her early years. She often surprises me with her technology skills. On the other hand, my other three daughters are avid Internet and cell phone users. Each with her own personality and cell phone needs. That brings me to today’s issue. How do you keep up with your mobile needs without hurting the environment?

I pose the question because many of us discard our unwanted cell phones after a couple of years even though they still are in good condition because we want the latest in mobile technology or perhaps we want a battery with more durability. These unwanted cell phones and accessories often clutter our drawers or, in worse cases, landfills. These discarded e-devices are made with precious materials that can be recycled. So why don’t we?

There are many ways to donate or recycle these used cell phones and other used electronics. Learn more about our Plug-In to eCycling program as well as our cell phone recycling campaign in English and Spanish. Let’s teach our children more about the life cycle of a cell phone, perhaps they’ll have a greater appreciation for these communication devices to limit e-waste—and unnecessary text messages as well.

¿Qué hacer con su viejo teléfono celular?

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

La tecnología moderna nos permite estar conectados las 24 horas del día. Sea mediante la computadora, un PDA o un teléfono celular—la mayoría de nosotros tiene algún dispositivo portátil para estar conectados al instante con familiares, amigos o el trabajo. Algunos de nosotros dependemos de la tecnología moderna para estar “conectados” a la oficina cuando estamos de vacaciones. (Cometí ese pecado mortal repetidamente durante unas vacaciones recientes con mi familia) Otros dependen de su celular para enviar mensajes de texto o simplemente conversar con amigos sobre el quehacer diario.

Como he mencionado antes, tengo cuatro hijas. La pequeña todavía no tiene un celular, pero se maneja muy bien con la tecnología moderna pese a su edad. A veces me sorprenden sus destrezas tecnológicas. Por otra parte, mis otras tres hijas son empecinadas internautas y usuarias de móviles. Cada una tiene su propia personalidad y gustos de telefonía móvil. Eso me lleva al tema de hoy, ¿cómo podemos adaptarnos a nuestras necesidades de telefonía móvil sin hacerle daño al medio ambiente?

Planteo la pregunta porque muchos de nosotros descartamos nuestros celulares usados dentro de un par de años a pesar de que todavía están en buenas condiciones o porque simplemente queremos la última tecnología móvil o buscamos una batería con mayor durabilidad. Estos celulares y accesorios indeseados muchas veces son arrinconados en nuestras gavetas o peor, amontonados en nuestros rellenos sanitarios. Estos aparatos electrónicos descartados tienen materiales preciosos que podemos reciclar. ¿Entonces, por qué no lo hacemos?

Hay muchas maneras de donar o reciclar estos celulares u otros aparatos electrónicos usados. Aprenda más sobre nuestro programa “Conéctese al reciclaje electrónico”, así como nuestra campaña de reciclaje de celulares en español. Enseñémosle a nuestros hijos sobre el ciclo de vida del teléfono celular, quizás tengan una mayor apreciación por estos aparatos de comunicaciones y así limiten los desechos electrónicos—y los mensajes de texto innecesarios también.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

33 Responses leave one →
  1. Karen permalink
    July 17, 2008

    I have only had one cell phone, and I intend to keep it until it breaks. The mineral coltan, a vital component in the capacitors that control current flow in cell phone circuit boards, is mined in Mountain Gorilla habitat. So recycle your cell phone and save a gorilla!

  2. Jason permalink
    July 17, 2008

    We donated ours to our American Armed Forces.

  3. Chip permalink
    July 17, 2008

    I am going to send this blog article to my wife. She is the queen of recycling. She will find a way to implement this into a company-wide project.

    Chip Stumpff
    Windswept Organix
    http://www.windsweptorganix.com

  4. Joan permalink
    July 18, 2008

    Karen–I never thought about the all those metals in my cute little cell phone. I really do try to be aware of how my choices influence the wider world; thanks for teaching me something today!

  5. Helmut Neumann permalink
    July 20, 2008

    It’s true, most cell phones are hoarded and I had to point the finger at myself too. Until I read about what difference it makes. It’s about 44% that are just kept somewhere, but at least they’re not in the landfill. And it’s amazing to what amount of material even small devices can sum up to (see http://muffin.freehostia.com/blog/?p=11 or http://www.nokia.com/A4136001?newsid=1234291).

    Unfortunately even more phones end up in the waste system than are being recycled. (4% vs. 3%).

  6. Kaye in Kentucky permalink
    July 21, 2008

    I donated my old cell phone to a Spousal Abuse Center for parents and kids who need to dial 911 FREE. It’s a shame that this is an option, but it’s the truth about the world we live in today. I hope that helping our neighbor and RECYCLING counts as a super GREEN EFFORT!

  7. Karen permalink
    July 22, 2008

    No problem Joan! Just passing on what I learned at the Philadelphia Zoo.

  8. Dawn permalink
    July 23, 2008

    Donating your cell phone isn’t always an environmentally friendly alternative. Many of the organizations that collect phones for fund-raising purposes sell them to companies that re-sell them to developing countries where they end up as hazardous waste that is not recycled or even sent to a modern landfill. Most people who “donate” their phones are just dumping junk they don’t want, and in countries that aren’t equipped to handle it.

  9. Gary Thompson permalink
    September 12, 2008

    When I upgrade cell phones, I usually will keep the old one around for a little while in case the new one drops and breaks. All of my old cell phones are eventually recycled.

    Gary P. Thompson
    - Author of “Finding Cell Phone Numbers”
    http://teamsugar.com/group/173450/blog/1584778

  10. mcupert permalink
    September 12, 2008

    I already gave my old cell phone to my relative. In my country there isn’t organization-alike that collect phones for any purpose. So, temporarily i just dump my junk.

    mcupert

  11. Robert says: permalink
    February 21, 2009

    I am glad we found this site because I am with recyclephones.org.
    Go to our website and it will explain what to do with your old
    cell phone.

    Hope it helps you make a decision what to do with your old
    cell phone.

  12. Travis permalink
    February 23, 2009

    It’s easy just go to: http://www.recyclephones.org/
    or straight to the free shipping label:
    http://www.recyclephones.org/labels/rpshiplabel.pdf

  13. Maria permalink
    May 30, 2009

    I send my old cell phones and other such things to a company who recycle such products.. They are very near to my office so Its quite easy for me to sen those to them..

    Maria
    http://www.reversephonelookup7.com/

  14. Computer Repair London permalink
    May 31, 2009

    Many people just sell their phones before they get too old. If they happen to have a very old phone with not much value then recycling is another option, however phone recycling isn’t common and needs to be exposed more.

  15. Jonathan permalink
    June 17, 2009

    I just sell my old phones to the people who work under me..
    They take it happily..
    I don’t have much knowledge on its recycling.. I think people should learn more about it.

  16. Linda permalink
    September 24, 2009

    I usually sell my old cell phones to local mobile phone dealers who give me good price for used phones. Then I buy the new cell phone. It gives me pleasure for buying new phone for cheap!

  17. wani permalink
    October 23, 2009

    cell phone offers free reviews of latest cell phones from all players in the cell market including the popular ones like Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and LG etc.

  18. Michael Wright permalink
    March 13, 2010

    I recently, put my phone on ebay. But I did ask around and some folks wanted used them to give to their kids instead of buying a new phone and they break it.

  19. Torry permalink
    March 22, 2010

    I keep losing my cell phones so somone who finds them probably trashed them because I shut them off when I get a new phone… So it would be a great idea to create a recycling program for cell phones.

  20. Amy Cameron permalink
    April 15, 2010

    We just keep our old cellphones in drawers. I actually didn’t know they could be recycled. We already have several old phones here just kept away since all of us own a cellphone. My youngest son who is 9 years old now got his first cellphone when he was 7.

    Amy Cameron

  21. http://www.cutecellphoneaccessories.org/ permalink
    June 21, 2010

    Hello,
    This site is very good site. It’s Provided me a lot’s of information and new type information. I think people should learn more about it. I had to point the finger at myself too. Hope it helps you make a decision what to do with your old cell phone. I Like this cell phone.
    Thanks

  22. Cecily permalink
    July 21, 2010

    After buying a new phone, I think most of the people will sell their old PDA Phones in very low prices.

  23. Kansas City Computer Repair permalink
    August 27, 2010

    hmmm…..thanks for the tips on what i can do with my old cell phones. i go through them fast enough. thanks!

  24. http://cell-pay-as-you-go.org permalink
    September 21, 2010

    This is a nice article and site. Thanks for sharing tips..

  25. moslem permalink
    September 27, 2010

    What a great article. I am searching this for long time. Thank you for your information.

  26. Buy Used Cell Phones Without Contract permalink
    December 22, 2010

    Wow, thanks for writing the great article!

  27. Paul. D. permalink
    July 23, 2011

    Suprising really, the amount of people that do not realise the benefits of recycling phones or in actual fact that they can be recycled ! Anyway, a good post here which has certainly attracted a lot of attention and views. Thanks
    :)

  28. May 20, 2012

    After buying a new phone, I think most of the people will sell their old PDA Phones in very low prices.

  29. Ruchita permalink
    August 26, 2013

    I bought my HTC one x on the day of its launch. recently after finding about launch of 5.2 inch LG g2, I searched on internet, and found there are some special features of LG G2 that may lure me to go for LG g2. I have started thinking about moving to LG G2 as my next phone. So resources provided on this page will really help me to recycle my current phone.
    Thanks Lina.

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