Even though my 10-year-old daughter got a new RAZR phone six months ago (purchased with her own money, thank you very much), I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that she’s asking for a new cell phone for Christmas. For starters, to her that RAZR is so, like, yesterday, and having discovered all of the phone’s bells and whistles, she’s ready to move on to a new toy. (Not gonna happen, by the way.)
Turns out my daughter’s technical desires are quite common place this holiday season. According to a recent survey of holiday shoppers, three out of four of them hope that they’ll find at least one hi-tech, digital delight under the tree this year. Cell phones, along with an HDTV and a Nintendo Wii system, are right there in the top 10 product requests. Considering our two-year Verizon Wireless plan allows us to upgrade our phone economically every 24 months only, there are no new phones on our holiday Verizon horizon. But there might be on yours.
If you are considering giving someone a new cell phone this year to replace an outdated one, I’d like to know: what do you plan to do with the old or no-long-desired piece of equipment? Are you going to toss it in the trash or what? That’s what many Americans do, according to a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Report. Problem is–cell phones are considered to be toxic waste.
Like with so many other things that occur once you start thinking green, you shouldn’t throw your cell phones away. Instead, figure out how you can recycle or reuse them. Here are some options to consider:
* Drop old cell phones and rechargeable batteries in a collection box.
No, I’m not suggesting that you short change the Salvation Army bell ringers with an old phone. Instead, look for one of the recycling boxes available in “big box” retailers nationwide.
* Trade them in for a gift certificate.
An organization called “Recellulartradein” allows consumers to trade in their phones for gift cards to buy new electronics. Go to the organization’s website to register your phone and figure out your best option. (According to Recellulartradin press materials, the majority of phones are worth between $5 and $20, though some newer phones could net you as much as $50.)
* Give your phones to a good cause.
Eco-cell, an environmentally focused cell phone recycling and green fund raising company, offers several phone recycling/green initiatives that help local zoos and wildlife parks. You can get more details on the Eco-cell website. Other organizations collect gently used cell phones to distribute to domestic violence shelters, soldiers abroad and other good causes.
* Donate your phone in exchange for carbon-offset credits
TerraPass wants to get cell phones out of landfills and into the hands of folks in developing nations who need them. At the same time, it wants to promote carbon-neutral initiatives. As such, if you donate your phone through the TerraPass/RIPMobile program, you’ll get a TerraPass gift certificate to help you purchase carbon-offset credits or other green products.
Given these ideas, now you can feel good this holiday season that you can buy a loved one an electronic device that’s on his or her wish list, and do the environment good when you dispose of an old cell phone responsibly.