What to do with your old cellphone

How to get rid of your old cell phone

Technology comes and goes quickly, and with each update to devices or software, older tech gets left behind. Cellphones may go out of date quickest of all. One day, it’s brand-new out of the box, the next, it’s time to upgrade again. Now, you have to figure out what to do with your old cellphone.

Simply tossing it in the trash can lead to environmental harm due to the toxic components found in electronics. Here are reasons you shouldn’t just throw a phone away, ways you can recycle that old phone, and how you can dispose of it safely.

Why you shouldn’t throw away an old cellphone

Safely getting rid of your cellphone is not just a responsible choice but also essential for several important reasons:

  • Data protection: Cellphones store a vast amount of personal and sensitive data, such as contacts, messages, photos, and login credentials. Properly getting rid of your cellphone ensures that this data doesn't fall into the wrong hands, protecting your privacy and preventing potential identity theft.
  • Environmental protection: Cellphones and other electronic devices contain hazardous materials, including heavy metals and toxic chemicals. If not disposed of properly, these substances can leach into the environment, polluting soil and water, and posing a threat to wildlife and human health.
  • E-waste reduction: Electronic waste (e-waste) is a growing problem globally. Discarded cell phones contribute significantly to this issue. By disposing of your cellphone safely, you help reduce the amount of e-waste generated and promote sustainable waste management practices.
  • Legal compliance: Many regions have regulations and laws regarding the proper disposal of e-waste. Failure to comply with these laws could result in fines or other penalties. By disposing of your cellphone responsibly, you ensure you are adhering to local regulations.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing that you have taken the responsible route by getting rid of your cellphone safely brings peace of mind. You can rest assured that you've done your part in protecting the environment, safeguarding personal data, and promoting responsible waste management.

Try repurposing your old cellphone

Just because your phone no longer serves as your primary device doesn't mean it has lost all its functionality. Repurposing allows you to explore alternative uses and unlock its potential in various ways.

Here are some ideas for using your old cellphone in new ways:

  • Digital photo frame: Cherish your precious memories by turning your old phone into a digital photo frame. Showcase your favorite photos and relive special moments through a rotating display.
  • Emergency backup: Your old phone can serve as a reliable backup in case of emergencies. Keep it charged and ready for use during power outages or when your primary phone runs out of battery.
  • E-reader: Converting your phone into an e-reader opens up a world of literary adventures. Install e-reader apps and access an extensive library at your fingertips, making it ideal for reading on the go.
  • GPS navigator: Keep your old phone in the car and use it exclusively as a GPS navigator. Load it with maps and navigation apps, ensuring you never lose your way during travels.
  • Home security camera: Set up your old phone as a home security camera. Download a reliable security app, position the phone in a strategic location, and monitor your space remotely through your new makeshift camera. You could also use it as a baby monitor.
  • Kids' learning device: Kids always want to use your phone. Instead, load your old phone with educational apps and games, transforming it into an interactive learning and entertainment tool for children.
  • Music player: Transform your old phone into a dedicated music player by storing your favorite tunes or streaming music. Load it up with a playlist that accompanies you during workouts, outdoor walks, or moments of relaxation.
  • Spare camera: With ever-improving resolution, even old cellphones take great pictures. Keep one around as a spare and don’t forget to back up those photos to another device later.
A man packing old phones and electronics in a box for proper disposal

How to recycle your old cellphone

If it’s time to get rid of your cellphone altogether, there are a number of things you can do instead of letting it end up in a landfill.

1. Donate it

One of the most altruistic methods to dispose of your old phone is by donating it to charitable organizations or non-profits. Many groups focus on providing technology to those in need, such as low-income families, schools, or seniors.

Among these charities are:

  • 911 Cell Phone Bank: This program repurposes phones and gives them to vulnerable people who may need an emergency phone.
  • Cell Phones for Soldiers: They provide free cellphone service for active-duty military members and veterans.
  • Medic: This charity uses old phones to fund software for health care workers in isolated areas of Africa and Asia.
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Funds from sales of refurbished phones and other electronics help support victims and survivors of domestic violence.

You can find more charities that will accept your phone with a simple Google search.

2. Give it to recyclers

Watch for local e-waste collection events organized by local governments or environmental groups. These events provide designated locations and times for you to drop off your old cellphones and other electronic devices for safe recycling or disposal.

If there is no collection event in your area or if it’s already past the event, look for reputable recycling centers or drop-off locations that specialize in e-waste recycling. These centers can ensure that harmful materials like lead, mercury, and cadmium are disposed of properly.

3. Trade it in or sell it

Consider exchanging or selling your old cellphone if it is still in working order. Many manufacturers, stores, and carriers have trade-in or buyback programs where you may bring in your old device for credit toward a new one. Furthermore, internet marketplaces allow you to sell your phone to potential purchasers who may see value in a less expensive, pre-owned smartphone.

To get the most money, try selling your old cellphone directly to a buyer on Craigslist or eBay. Buy-back programs are available through websites such as sellcell.com and even businesses such as Best Buy and Costco.

4. Let someone else do it!

1-800-GOT-JUNK? is ready to get rid of your electronic junk for you. We’ll recycle it if we can, or we’ll dispose of it safely and responsibly.

First, make sure you don’t leave any personal data on the devices you are looking to get rid of. Then, make sure to remove any batteries if possible, or other hazardous material from those items. Batteries can contain hazardous materials and must be handled separately.

1-800-GOT-JUNK? Truck team taking away old phones and electronics

Let 1-800-GOT-JUNK help get rid of your old phone

Learn more about what electronics we take or contact your local 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise for a free, no-obligation quote. You can also learn more about how to recycle other electronics by reading our blogs on how to dispose of old or broken electronics safely.

Let us make your old cellphone and other electronics disappear!

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