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“Reusing is always better than recycling.” Please keep that in mind when getting a new phone

Recycling Cell Phones

Every new cell phone looks so much more amazing than your current one, and you’re probably thinking about getting one of them soon. But what about your current device? It still works great, and it’s not even two years old. Are you sure you want to make the switch? If you’re going for it anyway, please don’t throw your old phone away like it was garbage. You can always sell it, recycle it, or give it away, and every one of these alternatives is much more environment-friendly, and energy-efficient than the trash can. But be careful, because your phone definitely stores private, and you wouldn’t want it to be found by others.

If you’re planning on buying a new phone anyway, keep reading to learn how to safely get rid of your old one.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, on average, cell phones are used for only 18 months before being replaced. Most unused phones are stored in drawers or closets before eventually being thrown away. And in fact, more than 30 million mobile phones are lying unused in American homes and businesses. With a lifespan of just 18 months, you’ll probably own around 4 phones every 6 years.

With the rise of tech industry, electronic resources and raw materials are getting scarcer every day. And while recycling seems the best thing to do, it isn’t, says iFixit’s CEO, Kyle Wiens. According to him,

Recycling is already a lucrative $236 billion industry. Businesses save money every time materials are reprocessed, remanufactured, and reintroduced into the resource stream. But recycling —melting down products and making new ones— is energy intensive. Recycling aluminum requires around 1.7 Megajoules per can; reusing an aluminum bottle, on the other hand, requires very little energy, and those cost-savings can be passed along to both business and the consumer.

So what should people do? Wiens suggests the best solution is using devices longer when possible. While recycling is obviously better than nothing, maintaining not-that-old electronic devices is much more energy-efficient, and environment-friendly. If you’re a DIY enthusiast, iFixit is a great way to learn how to keep your devices longer, and in better shape. And since you’re considering keeping your phone longer, you should definitely protect it from theft. Did you install Prey already?

If I didn’t convince you, and you’re getting the latest gadget anyway, you can always put your old phone on sale. If that doesn’t go well, there must be people willing to accept it as a gift, like your siblings, children, or anyone you know who’s in need. And if that doesn’t work either, we’d be more than happy to accept your old smartphones for testing Prey, really :)

But if the device is old or damaged, and not even your grandma would use it, here’s a list with every major manufacturer’s own recycling program:

Just remember: Recycling is great, but reusing is always better than recycling.

Before getting rid of the old phone, wipe it clean

With modern smartphones’ cloud data sync you don’t need to write down all your contacts anymore like in the old days. Google does this on the Android platform, and also does Apple with iCloud. The problem today is erasing your personal information from the phone you’re leaving behind. If your data —including photos, contact names and numbers, usernames and passwords— gets in the wrong hands, people could impersonate you, or abuse your contacts. For this reason every phone has a factory reset feature that will erase its content. Use it, and also format all internal memory, including SD cards if available, before losing control of your device. While HTC claims no wiping method is 100% effective, and that even with the highest level wipe it is possible for sophisticated tools to recover residual data, it’s not very likely it would happen to you, and is worth taking the risk… unless you’re a big fish in global politics, business, and such. Are you?

Photo: Alan Levine (cc)