Replas’s Weblog

Re-use or Recycle , Save Energy, Protect The Environment

Green Journal: Seal, Mail & Recycle Cell Phones

I admit I am slightly techno-phonic even though I grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley – something about learning new buttons, interfaces, and shortcuts just makes me a bit uncomfortable. However, unable to stand my husband’s constant nagging to get plugged in, I finally traded in my clunky, old cell phone for a new model. I’m still getting used to the new buttons and getting my emails delivered real time but I digress. The point of my green journal this week is not to talk about my sleek, new phone but what to do with the old, clunky ones. During my upgrade process, I realized that we actually had three other retired cell phones sitting in our “to-be-recycled” bin (a.k.a. dusty corner of the study) – the oldest phone was SIX years old, older than my daughter!

The EPA predicts roughly 130 MILLION cell phones are retired every year with numbers rising with each passing year; some phones land in dusty corners or closets and unfortunately others into the trash. Improper disposal of personal electronics like computers, cell phones and even household batteries is hazardous to the environment and your personal health. Cell phones contain a variety of toxic chemicals that can leak into soil and water when improperly disposed in landfills or released into the air when incinerated. These chemicals (including lead, cadmium, nickel, zinc, arsenic) plus brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have been linked to health issues like cancer, reproductive and neurologic disorders. So knowing these issues, why did I have stockpile of old cell phones? Because I was aware of the hazards but just didn’t know of convenient or forget-proof ways to properly recycle those phones.

Luckily, as I have found out, recycling cell phones has gotten a whole lot easier in the last few years.
–First of all, many electronic and cell phone stores (most major wireless stores, Radio Shack, Best Buy, Staples and Wal-mart to name a few) have recycle drop-off bins, which is most convenient when you are ready to trade on the spot or remember to drop them off.
–Large wireless companies (like my local Verizon store) actually have free, prepaid mailing packages that you can take home and mail back to their recycling centers. I noticed that Best Buy also has a similar program. If you need to keep your old phone to transfer data (yes, the old fashion way), this is a great option and is what I used to clear out my old phone stash.
–And what if you forget to pick up or can’t find these prepaid mailing envelops? No worries. Check out Recycle For California where you can print out a prepaid label, stick it on envelop big enough for your phone, put it in your mailbox and reduce environmental contamination risks. Note that they do have list of phones that they take by mail, otherwise, they offer recycling drop-off locations. You can also mail any of your old phones (or PDAs) to CollectiveGood (a non-profit) through their Recycle My Cell Phone Campaign. You need to provide your own envelop and postage but the value of your phone and mailing expenses are deductible on your taxes.
–Other organizations like TerraPass will recycle your phone (and PDAs) and give you a free Terra Pass (carbon neutral offset certificate) to reward your initiative. All phones collected are recycled (and never resold).
–If you also have other, larger personal electronics like monitors or TVs or accumulated large quantities, you can contact recycling organizations like Green Citizen which accepts drop offs or offer in-home pickups (for a fee). It’s convenient, guarantees that equipment will be recycled and Organicpicks users give Green Citizen high marks.

You can also contact your local recycling center to find drop-off locations. Just don’t forget to drop them off!

So for my green action tally this week:

Time consumed to implement this action: About 2 minutes to put all my phones in the large envelop and place it in my mailbox
Extra Upfront Cost: Nothing since the mailing envelop was free.
Resources spared: 3 less phones and batteries to end up in the landfill

Like I said in the beginning, just Seal, Mail and Recycle (Your Cell Phone). Can’t be easier than that!

CindyC at Organicpicks


October 9, 2007 - Posted by | Recycle Cell Phones

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