What To Do With My Old Cell Phone?

{The Greening Of Westford} Reduce Reuse Recycle Your Old Cell Phone

My old cell phone sitting in my car to be donated

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Your Old Cell Phone

While doing some de-cluttering, I found my old cell phone.  Sitting in a draw.  I know I can recycle it or possibly donate it to a charity.  But where exactly can I bring it and how can I be assured it will be used to the highest degree possible?

So started my investigation…

I couldn’t find a consensus on how many cell phones are purchased each year in the U.S., so I did my own math.

According to the US census for 2011, there are 233 million people between the ages of 15 and 80.  Assuming each of those people has a cell phone and the average life of a cell phone is 3 years (which is probably on the high side), 77.7 million cell phones are being replaced per year.  That’s a lot of phones!  Worldwide, the numbers are closer to 1 billion per year!

Not only do you want to make sure that your old phone doesn’t end up in a third world country or landfill, but go one step further.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – in that order.


Do you REALLY need a new cell phone?  Can you get by for a bit longer with this one?

Or maybe you can buy a used phone.  Look for a refurbished phone through your cell phone provider or on Ebay.


Gift it   Can someone else in your family use your old phone?  Maybe a grandparent or a teen?

Sell it    If it’s still fairly new try selling it.  Gazelle, a Boston based company, will give you an estimate right on their website.

Help victims of abuse

Verizon’s HopeLine Recycling Program will accept any phone in any condition from any provider.   The phones are scrubbed of personal data, refurbished and sold or given to victims of domestic abuse. Phones that cannot be refurbished are recycled responsibly.  Verizon accepts phones and accessories at any of their Verizon Wireless Communications Stores, through Hopeline phone drives or through the mail with post-paid label.

Make the internet safe for kids

Sprint has  a program that “Enables anyone to recycle wireless phones, batteries, accessories and data cards for free, regardless of carrier or condition. Program benefits Internet safety for kids.”  According to their website,   More than 90% of the devices collected are reused. Any equipment not reused is recycled.”

Many cell phone providers are offering buy back deals, reuse opportunities with charities or recycling options.  When you upgrade, ask what they can do with your old phone.


As a last resort, recycle it  If you know your phone does not work, recycle it for FREE:

In the end, I decided to bring it to the Verizon Wireless store at our local mall.  I had to go there anyway, so it was easy.

Do you have an old cell phone sitting around?

This post has been shared at Natural Living Monday, Living Green Tuesdays, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday

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5 Responses to What To Do With My Old Cell Phone?

  1. Lori Popkewitz Alper June 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    It’s mind boggling to think about the number of cell phones that are discarded each year. I’ve never heard of Gazelle. Next time I’m trying to see an old phone I’ll have to remember to check it out.

    • Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) June 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

      The number truly are staggering! I kept checking my math! I’ve never used Gazelle but they have been around for a while and they are local to us. My phones are always pretty old and I can’t sell them 🙂

  2. www.soulfullab.com June 25, 2013 at 5:22 am #

    Its not shocking but rather unsettling. Ive had 4 phones in 13 yrs and I thought that was ridiculous. My coworkers laughed at me for having a Motorola rzr for 3.5 yrs. In the electronic world, that kind of life span is not normal. The only reason it was replaced was because I was given a new phone. Even my family thought my Rzr was an antique. I donated my good, working Rzr to a womens shelter so she could have a method of contact to obtain employment. That was in Oct of 2010 and I still have that new phone!!

    • Kristina July 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      Good for you! What really bothers me is that the industry keeps designing for obsolescence. New apps, games, whatever keep expecting more memory, faster processors and the like. So when your device gets to the 2 year mark it is slow as molasses even though there is nothing wrong with it!


  1. Electronics Recycling Made Easy - GrowingSlower - October 2, 2014

    […] them properly.  If there is still life in them, check out donation options.  I ended up donating my old cell phone because it still worked. If reuse isn’t an option, there are MANY easy, FREE ways to recycle […]

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