Smart phones, cell phones and other electronic devices make for popular gifts, which means the days after Christmas are big on e-waste clutter.
Only one in 10 cell phones is recycled each year, and that means valuable -- and toxic -- materials like copper, plastics and heavy metals are being burned in trash incinerators or buried in landfills. That means reusable materials are going to waste, and toxic materials are getting into our air and water. It also means extra energy is being expended to create new cell phones. According to the EPA, If Americans recycled the 100 million cell phones that are no longer being used, enough energy would be saved to power more than 18,500 homes for a year.
"Reusing or recycling cell phones helps the environment by saving energy and conserving resources," according to the Environmental Protection Agency. "Cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) are made of precious metals, copper, and plastics. Recycling or reusing these devices conserves materials, prevents air and water pollution, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions that occur during manufacturing and processing. For every 1 million cell phones recycled, we can recover 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver, 33 pounds of palladium, and 35,274 pounds of copper."
But maybe you feel like AT&T CEO Randall L. Stephenson's $20.2 million salary a tad over the top, and would rather see your recycled cell phone have a second life that benefits those somewhat less fortunate (No, we don't mean Verizon CEO Ivan G. Seidenberg, who makes $19.9 million.) If you do, then try one of these four charitable cell phone donations:
Turn your old cell phone into a prepaid calling card that a member of the U.S. military overseas can use to reach family back home. The program works with Recellular.
A portion of the money generated by recycling your cell phone will go to a charity of your choice. Recellular partners with a number of charities, from the Good Deed Foundation to the Pet Animal Welfare Society.
CollectiveGood operates similarly, offering a donation to one of a variety of organizations in exchange for your cell phone. Charities include the United Way, Friends of the Congo and the Best Friends Animal Society.
Eco-cell partners exclusively with conservation organizations so that nonprofits benefit from the donation of your used cell phone. Plus, some of the workable phones are donated to hospitals in the Louisville Metro area so patients can make emergency calls.
You can also look into getting paid to recycle your cell phone.
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