Cellphone companies are always trying to sell you on their newest, slickest, thinnest, most feature-packed model. When you get a new cellphone, don't just throw the old one away. For one thing, it contains toxic metals, including lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. For another, it could be refurbished and used by someone else. Even if your old phone is beyond repair, its components—including gold, copper, and plastic—can be extracted and recycled.
When it's time to hang up your old phone, you may be able to mail it back to the company that made it (check the manufacturer's website for instructions). Or consider one of these recycling options:
Donate your phone to support a good cause:
Cell Phones for Soldiers (www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com) accepts donated phones and trades them to used-phone dealer Recellular for calling cards that U.S. soldiers stationed overseas can use to call home for free. There's also a Canadian version of this program: www.cellphonesforsoldiers.ca.
HopeLine (http://tinyurl.com/9qu3wc). Sponsored by Verizon, HopeLine collects cellphones and accessories and donates them to victims of domestic violence.
Phones 4 Charity (www.phones4charity.org) refurbishes phones and sends them to economically struggling areas in the U.S. and abroad.
Recycling for Charities (www.recyclingforcharities.com) lets you choose the charity you want to support with your donated phone, digital camera, or iPod.
Raise money for a local cause or group. These organizations will help you organize a cellphone drive:
If your phone still works and is a recent model, you may be able to put a few bucks in your pocket by selling it. These companies offer online quotes and live support:
If you live in the U.K. and you want to recycle your phone, visit the Recycling Appeal's website at www.recyclingappeal.com.
Learn more about this topic from Living Green: The Missing Manual.
Taking care of the earth is more important than ever. Living Green: The Missing Manual is an all-in-one resource packed with practical advice on ways you can help the environment by making relatively easy, earth-friendly changes in your home routine, work habits, and the way you shop and get around town. This book teaches you how a few small changes can have a big impact