Got an old cell phone?

cell phonesDo you know what to do with your old cell phone when it stops working or when you buy a new one?

You  might decide to keep the old one as a back-up in case or you could pass it along to a friend that might not have one.  This is a great way to recycle or reuse!

Sometimes people throw  away old cell phones in the same fashion we throw away other items we don’t use anymore. Our electronics are made up of lots of resources like metal, plastic, and glass, which can be recycled and used to make other devices. These resources are valuable and take lots of energy to make. Many electronics contain elements that take time to find in the earth’s natural environment.  By throwing away these items, we’re wasting non-renewable energy (like gas or fossil fuel) instead of trying to reuse them in some way.

Most electronics also contain parts that can’t be broken down in the environment – they aren’t biodegradable.  If they don’t biodegrade they have the potential to sit in landfills taking up more and more space.  Some may even start to leak harmful liquids and substances into the ground like lead and mercury.  These toxins can make their way into our water supply and pollute it.

What if we donated used electronics for reuse? It would extend the lives of valuable products. Recycling electronics prevents valuable materials from going into the waste stream.  One of the best way to get rid of old electronics is to recycle, reuse, and refurbish!

Here are some ways to eCycle electronics:

1. Check manufacturer’s websites for recycling programs. Sometimes you can save a percentage on your next purchase by recycling!
2. Donate electronics to charities. Some charities are even recycling old phones!
3. Ask friends or family if they want your used electronic item.
4. Check with local electronic stores for recycling kiosk.

If you have any questions or are searching for resources, check the EPA’s website on eCycling for more information:

Wendy Dew is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.

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