Climate for Action: Put Your Old Cell Phones to Good Use

About the Author: Michelle Gugger graduated from Rutgers University in 2008. She is currently spending a year of service at EPA’s Region 3 Office in Philadelphia, PA as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Cell phones are, on average, only used for 1 ½ years before they are replaced. However, only 10 percent of our replaced cell phones are actually recycled each year. According to the EPA, most people are not recycling their old cell phones because they are unsure of what they should do with them. For this reason, many people either save or throw out their old phones.

Fortunately, for the many of us looking to get rid of our old phones, recyclers have been able to make things easy for us. Many organizations will take our old cell phones and pay us for them. There are also many organizations that promise to help others if we donate our old cell phones to them. Here are a couple of the websites that will use our donated phones to benefit others:Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer

  • The Collective Good website allows you to donate your phones to charities. Additionally, they promise to plant a tree for every box of cell phones they receive from you.
  • Donate your cell phones to American soldiers and you can help connect them with their families and friends overseas.
  • GRC Recycling is a website that will use your donated cell phones to support many charitable non-profit organizations.

Also visit for lists of additional recyclers.

By donating your old cell phones to these or similar organizations, you will not only help a lot of people, but you will be able to help the environment too. 150 million cell phones are taken out of service each year, if Americans recycled just 2/3 of those cell phones, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 630,667 tons of CO2 and save enough energy to power more than 194,000 U.S. homes for a year. Donating your old cell phones is one easy way that we can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy. Informing your friends of where they can recycle their old cell phones or starting a collection at your school are both easy things that you can do to become a climate ambassador. I know that you probably have a lot of other great recycling ideas. What do you do with your old cell phones? Is there something that can be done at your school or in your community? Let us know your ideas on how we can reduce the waste we create from constantly replacing our cell phones. Also, check out what other things you can do to become a climate ambassador.