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4 easy ways to recycle your old smartphone

Old phones that end up in the garbage become e-waste. Prevent that by recycling your old smartphone.

recycle old smartphones
Image: KnowTechie

Throwing your outdated phone in a junk drawer or trashcan after upgrading may seem harmless enough. After all, what else are you supposed to do with it? But over time, the buildup of electronic waste harms the environment and lowers your sustainability levels.

Why You Shouldn’t Throw Out Your Old Phone

cracked iPhone
Image: CNN Money

Old phones that end up in the garbage become e-waste. Instead of processing our unused electronics within the country, the U.S. ships them to less developed areas of the world. The government chose the outsourcing technique to minimize Americans’ exposure to toxins like lead, mercury, and cadmium.

Without adequate education and training, workers in less developed nations deconstruct the phones and are exposed to human health and environmentally damaging components. America pays the countries to process our e-waste, limiting the workers’ abilities to refuse the parts.  

E-waste produces 70% of the global toxic waste supply. When individuals come in contact with the elements, their risk of cancer and other fatal conditions increases. Some countries also bury our e-waste to reduce physical contact.

Over time, the waste can leak chemicals into the soil, decreasing the safety of agricultural production. It may additionally contaminate local water supplies and cause regional lead poisoning. Consumers can minimize their contribution to the adverse effects of e-waste by recycling their old phones using one of these four methods.  

recycle bin
Image: IntoWindows

1. Donate or Sell Your Old Phone

Many people are surprised to find they can donate their electronics to thrift stores, just like they do with their clothing. Major consignment chains like Goodwill partner with big tech companies to minimize e-waste. They collect phones in all conditions and will handle the recycling process if they cannot sell them.

You can also donate your outdated smartphone to a local shelter, helping struggling community members access necessary resources. Similarly, career development programs take old electronics and use them to support the individuals they work with.

Of course, if it’s in good enough condition, you may also opt to sell your phone for cash on eBay or Amazon. Either way, you’re giving your old tech a chance at a second life.

2. Use the Manufacturer’s Recycling Program

Major smartphone manufacturers take back unused products to properly recycle them, shrinking their footprints. Before sending a gadget back, you should engage in privacy and safety practices. You can begin by backing up all your data onto a computer or the cloud.

Remember, it’s vital to remove the SIM or memory card first to protect your private information. Smartphone owners should also sign out of all their accounts before sending them in.

3. Drop Your Phone at a Recycling Kiosk

There are various recycling kiosks around the nation, and many can be found in retail tech stores. Best Buy has an efficient electronic recycling program, and it is essential to note its daily three items per family limit. Phone carriers like AT&T and Version also recycle old smartphones, minimizing ecological degradation.

4. Get Crafty

You can also reduce your e-waste by turning trash into treasures. One notorious upcycling project was the Macquarium, where a consumer hollowed out their old Mac desktop and converted it into an aquarium.

Recyclers can also disassemble their smartphones and remove parts for projects. For example, some individuals make earrings out of old SD cards, giving them a second life.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Those Phones

When you’re trying to be a sustainable tech user, it’s essential to revisit the three Rs. Keep these in mind when upgrading to the latest gadgets, and you’ll be one step closer to helping protect against e-waste while still getting to check out all the newest trends.

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