We don’t think of our mobile phones as being particularly bad for the environment. The problem is, though, that we tend to hold onto our mobiles for only a short period of time. Some studies suggest that mobile phone owners upgrade to better models every year. That means we’re throwing away an awful lot of mobile cell phones. And that, of course, is very bad for the environment.
Fortunately, there are steps we can all take to reduce the negative impact that discarded mobile phones have on the environment. And it all starts with recycling all these unwanted mobile cell phones.
The scope of the problem
The numbers are dismal: Of the 140 million mobile phones disposed of in 2007, a total of 126 million were simply tossed in the garbage.
Our landfills are becoming increasingly crowded with discarded mobile cell phones. And these phones often contain toxic chemicals such as mercury, cadmium and lithium. These chemicals can leak into the soil, and eventually end up in nearby streams, creeks or rivers.
In the UK, only 14 million mobile phones that were discarded were recycled. That’s an especially depressing figure; it only represents 10 percent of the mobiles that consumers threw out.
Making a difference
You can make a difference, though. You can take steps on your own to at least keep your mobile phone out of a landfill.
The most obvious step is to use your current mobile phone for a longer period of time. The new mobiles on the market may sound enticing with their new features and applications. But how many of these new features do you really need?
If more people would use their mobile phones for three years or longer, the number of these phones thrown out each year would drop dramatically.
If you do need to upgrade to a new mobile phone, you can still do good by the environment. Many charitable and non-profit organizations have set up their own mobile phone recycling programs to collect used mobiles. They then send them to people who can’t afford to purchase their own mobiles.
Search out these charities and donate your old mobile phone to them. You’ll be doing a good deed for both the environment and for someone less fortunate.
Recycle your mobile phone
The big mobile phone makers recognize the problem of discarded mobiles, too. That’s why many of them have set up their own take-back programs.
As the name suggests, manufacturers will take back old versions of their mobile cell phones when customers move up to newer models. These manufacturers will then recycle the mobile phones that are turned into them.
Many municipalities, too, run mobile phone pickup days. During these days, they’ll pick up any old mobile cell phones – and usually other discarded consumer electronic products – and keep them from ending up in landfills. They’ll either donate the old phones to charitable organizations or send them on to be recycled.
Make some extra cash by recycling your mobile
Finally, you send your unwanted mobile phone to any of a number of private companies that specialize in recycling the devices.
Best of all, these companies will pay you cash for your old mobile phones.
Simply search the Internet for companies that recycle mobile phones. Once you find one you like, find your phone’s logo. Click on it, and the company will make you an offer. If you like the price it gives you, accept the offer and wait for the company to send you a padded envelope.
You then drop your phone inside the envelope and mail it back to the company. Usually within seven business days, you’ll receive your agreed-upon payment.