New home for old phones

Junior David Michael Svatik has recently purchased a new cell phone. He has several old cell phones sitting at home, unused and unwanted.

When you purchase a new cell phone, you might be faced with the dilemma of finding a use for your old phone. However, before you throw the used phone away, whether it is broken or not, you should consider recycling it for a better cause.

“I already have a cell phone, and I don’t need my old ones,” Svatik said. “Recycling them in the future would be a good idea.”

According to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), an environmental research firm, more than 128 million Americans use cell phones. The cell phones bought will be replaced in after about 18 months of use, and this results in 130 million phones being thrown away yearly.

If thrown away, a used cell phone can be extremely hazardous for the environment. According to, a program dedicated to cell phone recycling, a normal cell phone contains toxic chemicals like Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and Arsenic. It’s extremely hazardous if these chemicals leak into the ground water system, and the effects can be devastating. Therefore, it is important for used cell phones not to be deposited into landfills.

Many people are unaware how many options for phone recycling exist nationwide. For instance, you can resell your old cell to phone companies, according to the DEP. The phone companies can then rebuild and resell the mobile phones. However, there are also multiple charitable organizations for used cell phones.

Most local cell phone providers participate in a cell phone donation program of some kind. Some of these local providers even offer tax credit for recycling.

One example of this is Verizon Wireless, at University Mall at 2200 E. Fowler Ave. Albert Dominguez, the manager at Verizon Wireless, said they have been participating with HopeLine for about 5 years.

“(The cell phones) get shipped to Michigan, where they are refurbished and the memory is cleaned,” he said. “They are donated with the card charger, and (HopeLine) makes sure that everything is working. The cell phones are donated to women’s shelters.”

The recipients of refurbished HopeLine cell phones are victims of domestic violence. Once donated, these cell phones can assist these women in emergency situations if they ever need to dial 911.

Donating his cell phones to a cause like HopeLine would be ideal for Svatik. “You don’t need any service to dial 911, so it would be a good thing for people to keep them in their cars, for emergency situations,” he said.

Other than HopeLine, there are several other charitable programs that exist for recycling cell phones. donates renovated cell phones to a couple of different charities and offers the former owner the choice of which charity. Among the charities offered, some of the choices are listed as follows: the American Red Cross to aid in New Orleans relief efforts, CARE to help the tsunami victims in Asia and Earthworks, which focuses on preventing harm resulting from mineral development., which is owned by the same organization, offers a certain amount of points per donated cell phone that can be traded in for free items. Among items that can be earned are e-gift cards from Circuit City, MSN music downloads, ringtones and games from and urban clothes from Karmaloop. Like CollectiveGood, RIPMobile also focuses on protecting the environment from cell phone chemicals and helping people who aren’t financially stable, especially in Latin America.

Junior Josiah Colombo, who will be trading in his phone soon, said, “I was never aware that I could recycle my cell phone, but now that I know, I will make sure that my old phone goes to a good cause. My other cell phone is sitting in a closet right now. Why should it be sitting in my closet when there are people who need it?”