With two-year contracts gone, it’s now so much easier to upgrade to a new phone. You can do so every year or in some instances even more often than that. Most users are over the moon about this but there is a dark side to frequent upgrades. Unless you trade in your old phone, which is not always required by the way, chances are that you already have a pile of old devices you will no longer use. Tossed aside and forgotten, they gather dust in a far corner of a drawer until one day you decide to do spring cleaning and get rid of your old stuff. Your first impulse might be to throw everything in a trashcan but it’s not a good idea. If you want to do something good with your old used phone, here’s a responsible way to dispose of it.
If you have an old used phone you no longer want, do not throw it away and pose danger to the environment. Put it to good use or at least dispose of it properly.
Clean your phone
By cleaning we obviously don’t mean removing smudges or fingerprints from the screen, though if you consider donating the phone, it would be a nice touch. Regardless of what you are going to do with the device – donate it, take it to a recycle company, sell, etc., it should never have even a single piece of personal information inside. That said, you should move all the content stored on the phone such as photos, video or music to a safe location, for instance cloud, computer, microSD card, etc. Log out of any accounts and delete any texts and contacts from on-device address book.
You should also uninstall any apps you have installed yourself leaving only the ones that came with the device. To be absolutely sure there’s nothing left, you can perform factory reset which is pretty easy if you have an Android phone. Just to be on the safe side, turn the handset on one last time and go through it to double check that any piece of information that could potentially identify you or put sensitive data in danger has been removed.
Sort your stuff
If your phone still has a box it came in together with all the papers, accessories, cables, etc, don’t throw it all together. A cardboard box and papers go in waste-paper bin, plastic cases go with plastics and so on. The phone, charger and some accessories, however, don’t belong there and will have to wait either to be picked up by a special company or to be taken by you to a right place. In case of other stuff, use your judgment but remember that if an accessory needs power from a battery or cord, it will have to go with the phone.
Where to take the phone
As we said, the phone can’t be thrown away with the rest of your household waste for a couple of reasons. First, there are lots of elements and chemicals, most of them in the battery, which would pose a serious danger to the environment when buried in a landfill. Moreover, a phone contains many metals and other elements that can be retrieved and reused. Of course, you can’t do it yourself, but there are a bunch of companies that can.
Unfortunately, some private companies will charge you for taking your phone, but there are many other places where you can leave your phone and not pay a penny. For example, most carriers will take your old phone without asking a question and so will some manufacturers, for instance Samsung and Apple which has its own electronics recycling program. Moreover, some retailers, like Best Buy, have a special bin where you can leave your phone. Even if you bought your phone online, you can ask for a prepaid bag to send the device back in at the end of its life.
If it works – donate
If your phone is in a decent condition so that it still works and can be used, you might want to consider donating it rather than throwing it away. There are many organizations, such as Cell Phones for Soldiers or Verizon’s HelpLine which take old phone and then give them to people to use or sell.
In our busy lives we may be tempted to throw used electronics away without a second thought but the easiest way is not always the best. In fact, in this case it’s actually the worst and the responsible thing to do would be to dispose of your old phone the way you are supposed to. It may take a few extra minutes of your precious time but the satisfaction that you did the right thing will last much longer.