Save the World: How to Properly Recycle Old Phones

Save the World: How to Properly Recycle Old Phones

Save the World: How to Dispose Old Phones

Human waste is at an all-time high, and some of our electronics are the worst to toss carelessly back into the earth. If want to help preserve our planet, click here to learn how to dispose of cell phones properly.

When you throw old phones away in the trash, they end up in the landfill. But phones contain harmful chemicals that can seep out of the phone, get into the groundwater, and poison any water nearby.

That’s why you should always recycle your phones.

Take a look at this guide to learn how to dispose of cell phones when you’re done using them.

Remove Personal Information

Before you dispose of your phone, you’ll want to remove any personal information stored on it. Most phones carry things like your address, your phone number (and the numbers of your friends and family), your email address, old text messages and voicemails, and important passwords and usernames. Should someone find your phone and get ahold of this information, they could get into your emails, bank account, work documents, etc.

So the first step in getting rid of your phone is clearing all your information from the hard drive.

The easiest way to do this is to set the phone back to its original factory setting. This will wipe all the information off the phone’s memory, leaving it with only the features it had before you bought it.

If you still have information on your phone you don’t want to lose, you can transfer it over to your new phone before you delete it. The exact method of wiping your phone clean depends on which type of phone you have. You can look at the owner’s manual that comes with the phone to get instructions.

Many people take their SIM or SD cards out of their old phone and put them into their new phone. But even if you don’t want to do this, you should still remove any SIM or SD cards from your phone before you dispose of it.


Phone store information on these cards. They aren’t part of your phone’s internal memory, so when you wipe your phone, SIM or SD cards can still contain personal information. If you don’t want to remove them, make sure you take the time to delete anything off your SIM or SD cards as well as your phone.

Double Check Your Phone

After you’ve wiped your phone, you should always go back through to make sure all your personal information is gone. It’s better to spend some extra time with your phone before you get rid of it than scramble to change your information if someone finds it.

Here’s a quick list of things you should check after you wipe your phone.

Voicemails: Take a look through your voicemail to make sure there aren’t any messages left behind.

Emails: You’ll want to make sure the login to your email address isn’t saved on your phone. If there are any emails left behind, delete them.

Text Messages: Double check your inbox to make sure there aren’t any texts from friends or family members.

Search Histories: Your search history might not feel important, but it could give information centered around where you live. Clearing your search history also retains your privacy.

Photos: You don’t want someone getting their hands on pictures of your children, relatives, friends, or other family members.

Contacts: Removing any remaining contact numbers will protect your friends and family.

Downloads: Check to make sure your download folder is empty.

Folders: If you have any other folders on your phone, go through them or delete them. All in all, you don’t want to leave anything behind when you get rid of your phone.

And don’t forget about apps. Storing apps on your phone can hold personal data. Make sure you remove all the apps you can from your phone.

The Three Ways to Dispose of Your Phone

You should never throw your phone into the trash. Instead, there are three different alternatives to disposing of your phone. You can either recycle it, donate it, or drop it off at a tech firm.

Here’s a breakdown of what you have to do for each option.

1. Recycle It

There are several recycling sites where you can drop off your mobile phone all over the United States. For example, Call2Rcycle has drop off locations that collect rechargeable batteries and old phones.

A quick look in a search engine can give you several recycling options near you.

There are also several different kinds of collection events. Many communities have days where they collect old electronics. If you have an old cell phone you need to get rid off, you can take it to one of these events. From there, the community will recycle the phone themselves.

2. Donate It

If your cell phone is still in good condition, you can choose to donate it to others who aren’t as fortunate as you. There are several different charities and nonprofit organizations who take old phones.

Here’s a list of a few donation options.

  • org
  • The World Computer Exchange
  • Dell Reconnect
  • eBay for Charity

This last one allows you to sell your phone on eBay and donate the money to your choice of charity.

3. Drop It Off at a Tech Firm

A number of electronic manufacturers or electronic retailers have their own recycling options for products like used phones. Some of these places will accept your phone even if you didn’t buy it from them.

Here are a few retailers and manufacturers that offer recycling services.

  • Best Buy
  • Amazon
  • Sprint’s Buyback Program
  • Staples
  • Net Equity
  • Office Depot
  • Apples GiveBack Program

Places like Sprint, Apple, and Amazon will pay you in store credits or gift cards if you decide to drop off your phone with them. When you drop off your old phone with a tech firm, you can earn money to put toward a new phone in the future.

How to Dispose of Cell Phones

You can’t throw your old cell phone in the trashcan. If you do, the toxic chemicals inside the phone can damage the environment. There are several different ways you can recycle or donate your phone. You can also donate your phone to help other people in need or earn store credit or gift cards at a tech firm.

Are you in the market for a new phone? Take a look at this list of incredible smartphones.



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