A friend of mine was about to chuck her old cell phone in the trash, without a second thought. When I suggested that she might be able to do something else with it, she just shrugged and said, “What use is an old junk cell phone?” While she didn’t throw it away right then, I’m quite sure that the phone wound up in the trash before long.
That’s unfortunate. An old cell phone has plenty of worthwhile uses, ones that don’t result in the phone winding up in a landfill somewhere, wasting space and leeching chemicals into the environment. Even better, many uses for a cell phone can save you money.
7 Alternatives to Throwing Away Old Cell Phones
1. Recycle It
If you’re really thinking of just tossing that cell phone in the trash, at least think of recycling it instead.
The easiest place to do it is at your cell phone store or at a large electronics store – most stores like this have a bin available where you can just drop in your old cell phone for recycling, ensuring that the chemicals don’t get into the mix.
You can also use a service like RecycleMyCellPhone.org, which will help you print off a mailing label that will allow you to mail the phone to a recycling center. This can be a good option if you live in a very rural area.
2. Sell It
You can also sell your old cell phone if you want to go to a bit more effort. Services like CellForCash.com will buy your old cell phones for a few dollars (obviously, the price depends on the model). You might be able to get even more than that if you have a local phone reseller who buys old phones – check the yellow pages to see if any are near you.
3. Donate It
My preferred option, if you’re simply looking to get rid of the phone, is to donate it to an organization that can put it to good use.
My top preference is to donate phones to spousal abuse centers. Such centers can then give the phones to women and children who are in abusive situations so that they can use the phones to call for help in the event of an abusive situation. Check the yellow pages to find a spousal abuse center in your local area.
Another excellent use for used cell phones is the Cell Phones for Soldiers program, which takes used cell phones and gives them to members of the United States military deployed overseas, enabling them to call their families with ease.
There are also many personal uses for old cell phones. Here are four ways you can actually reuse that outdated piece of equipment:
4. Use it as a 911 phone
Charge it up, turn it off, and stick the phone (along with the old charger) in your glove box. Then, if you’re ever in an accident or other emergency, you can pull the phone from your glove box, flip it on, and use it to dial 911. This will work because all cell phones are required to allow you to dial 911, even without an active service plan to the phone.
5. Give it to a child to use as a toy
One of my two year old son’s favorite toys for many months was an old Kyocera flip phone with the SIM card removed. He’d open it up, turn it on, and play with it, pretending to talk to Grandma and so on. We didn’t charge it at all – he would use it quite happily without power.
6. Use it as part of a magic trick
With a single cell phone, you can do any number of “disappearing” or “unbreakable” item tricks, such as this one, where you appear to make the item vanish before someone’s eyes.
Even better, if you happen to have two identical phones, you can do a “switcheroo” trick where you appear to have smashed the phone, show the people the parts, then swap the parts back for the real phone.
All of these tricks can be key pieces of an amateur illusionist’s repertoire.
7. Experiment with it (or give it to a tinkerer)
Another great idea for old cell phones is to use them for tinkering. There are many parts within a cell phone that can be used for building things, including the key pad and the LCD screen. Here’s details on how to reuse a cell phone display and also how to utilize cell phone parts for other uses. I can’t help it – I’m really into this kind of thing (and I’d do a lot more if I had more spare time). Even if you aren’t into this kind of thing, if you know someone who is, an old cell phone can be a treasury of bits and pieces.
What’s the message here? Don’t throw an old cell phone away. There’s still value in it yet, whether it’s in terms of direct compensation by selling it, additional value by reusing it, or social worth by finding a good cause to give the phone to.