Skip to content

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

2009 April 7

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 http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/partnerships/plugin/cellphone/cell-recycling-locations.htm 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.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Emily permalink
    April 15, 2009

    This is a great idea. I was in the Army and to get the phone cards while deployed was a great feeling. I will find some old phones and turn them in.

    As far as the info on them you can delete all the phone numbers and names stored. Even take the sim card out of them if they have one then no names and numbers are on it.

    http://www.xovian.com

  2. Michelle permalink
    April 28, 2009

    Thank you for the advice!

  3. simon permalink
    October 26, 2009

    Helping those in need of staying safe. There are numerous victims who are living in shelters that could benefit from those old phones. By donating your unused cell phone to a woman’s shelter, you are helping them survive that much longer. When you donate your phone to a woman’s shelter they are given to victims of abuse so they can call 911 if they feel threatened. Making this donation also makes you eligible to get a tax deduction.
    cell phone offers free

  4. Mikey permalink
    November 5, 2009

    I see soooo many cell phones go to waste each year it is redicoulous.People need to recycle these and not put them in the trash or in the closet

  5. free calling card permalink
    August 7, 2010

    Yes, recycling cell phones is a good option. It can save our environment.
    phone cards

  6. Cell Phones permalink
    November 3, 2010

    What a great way to stay green! Recycling cell phones is a great way to pursue sustainability.

  7. jason permalink
    December 1, 2010

    This place buys very old and broken cell phones for recycling purposes. (they only buy in bulk though)

  8. Jenny permalink
    January 27, 2011

    Just get cheap reliable dual sim phone and save energy by using solar-sunlight phone battery chargers.

  9. Super John permalink
    August 30, 2012

    Helping those in need of staying safe. There are numerous victims who are living in shelters that could benefit from those old phones. By donating your unused cell phone to a woman’s shelter, you are helping them survive that much longer. When you donate your phone to a woman’s shelter they are given to victims of abuse so they can call 911 if they feel threatened. Making this donation also makes you eligible to get a tax deduction.
    cell phone offers free

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS