We are constantly purchasing and repurchasing electronics, and one of the most purchased is the cell phone. Between all of the daily abuse a cell phone gets (I can't tell you how many times mine has dropped to the ground) and the emergence of 'newer!' 'fancier!' 'better!' phones, chances are you're replacing yours at least every two years. But did you ever stop to think about what happens from there? They usually get tossed in landfills where the phones may leak mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and other toxic substances into a local water supply. If they get incinerated then the same substances are put into the air. And according to Collective Good, there are currently more than 750 million cell phones hanging around in the trash or sitting in drawers. And every year another 150 million or more will get added to that list.
So what's a concerned, eco-minded citizen to do? Recycle of course. Many people don't know that electronic goods, including cellular phones, can be recycled. Once you give your phone to be recycled it's either broken down to retrieve the valuable metals or it's refurbished. Recycling the metals means less mining overall, which really helps the environment. And refurbished phones are sold here at discount prices or sent overseas to developing countries.
At Collective Good you donate your old cell phone, Palm Pilot or Blackberry and choose a charitable organization. That organization receives a donation with the money received from recycling the phone. Another reputable recycling organization is GRC Wireless Recycling. At their website you'll get a prepaid shipping label, which means it doesn't even cost you a dime to ship back your old phone.
Big corporations are also catching on. At apple.com you can fill out a form to receive a pre-paid shipping label to recycle all makes and models of cell phones as well as your old iPod. Which brings me to my other point-it's not just cell phones that we're tossing out. According to the Environmental Protection Agency consumers will retire 2 million tons of computers, iPods, DVD players and other electronic goodies, also known as 'e-waste' or 'tech trash'. At Best Buy stores you can leave your old electronics (and even used up ink-jet cartridges from your printer) at the free recycling drop-off kiosks as you're on your way to buy the new stuff. In 2006 over 20 million pounds of e-waste were recycled through Best Buy. Staples has partnered with Collective Good to recycle cell phones for free, and most locations have places to drop them off.
Oh, and let's not forget that donating these goods to be recycled or refurbished is tax deductible. And now that you've ditched your old phone it's time for a new one right? Consider buying a refurbished cell phone at a ridiculously low cost-sometimes they're even free. AT&T has recently begun selling refurbished phones. They work just as well as the new ones, they're cheaper and you're helping the environment. Now that's a good call!