People often fail to realize the impact their everyday decisions can have on the rest of the world. Simple things, such as throwing your old smartphone away, could result in big repercussions for both, nature and humanity when a lot of people do it.
E-waste is one of the biggest pollution problems in the world, and it just keeps growing. Between the start of 2017 and the end of August the same year, mankind has generated more than 26 million metric tons of e-waste, according to statistics from The World Counts. A lot of this will be recycled, but the majority will be taken to a third-world country to become a huge burning pile of electronics and plastic, spewing toxic fumes into the atmosphere and poisoning the soil.
If you want to make sure that your old smartphone doesn’t end up in those same toxic piles, there are a lot of ways to be responsible and recycle or reuse it. Here are ten great ideas to get you started.
Carrier recycling programs
Every major wireless carrier in the US, as well as most around the globe, have some sort of a buyback program for old devices. This is a great way for consumers to save some cash on a new smartphone, but it also helps with preserving the ecosystem.
In most cases, carriers make sure to dispose of electronics waste responsibly by recycling or refurbishing them. So, not only will you get a discount for your brand new handset, but you will also sleep calmly, knowing your old device won’t pollute the environment.
Donating old phones
Believe it or not, a lot of organizations will gladly accept your old electronics as a donation. In most cases, they will turn it in for recycling and use the money to aid their cause. This trend can be found all across the world of charity, from zoos, through soldier support organizations. You won’t be getting any money out of this, but you will have the chance of supporting organizations in need and responsibly recycling your phone at the same time.
Keeping old phones as a backup
There are some cases in which having your $900 flagship smartphone with you is not the wisest decision. About 2 million smartphones are stolen in the US each year and there are certain situations when the chances of someone lifting your handset are somewhat higher.
So, instead of throwing your old phone away, why don’t you keep it as a backup device? Next time you go to the beach, just pop your SIM card in the old handset and leave your expensive flagship at home.
Give it to a family member
Let’s face it, your grandparents don’t care if their phone is brand spanking new. They just want a handset that works. So, when theirs starts to give in, consider giving them your used, but functioning phone.
Or maybe put a stop to the kids asking for your phone to play games? Transform your old device into a dedicated gaming smartphone for your children and you can keep yours to yourself.
Make a burner
Burner phones are not just for spies and criminals. Every time you sell something on Craigslist, you’re effectively giving your phone number to complete strangers on the Internet, and this is never a good idea. So, maybe you could transform your old handset into a burner phone.
Stick a cheap prepaid SIM card in it and you can now post it all over the Internet without worrying that you’re giving your personal phone number away. If the calls become overwhelming or someone who shouldn’t have your number gets to it, you can just switch the SIM card and you’re done.
DIY home surveillance
Why would you pay hundreds of dollars for a home surveillance camera, when an old smartphone, connected to your home Wi-Fi could do the same job? There are plenty of apps and tutorials that will allow you to do it, so just search around the Internet and you could have your own DIY home surveillance in a matter of minutes.
Are you tired of always having to hook up your phone to the car for music and navigation? This can easily be avoided if you just leave your old phone in the car. Hook it up once and just keep it there. You can now have multimedia and navigation at all times, while your primary handset sits comfortably in your pocket. Just make sure that the newly-installed phone isn’t visible from the outside when you’re not in the car. Not to mention that you will never forget your daily driver in the car ever again.
If you’re a fan of music and you like to use a phone and Spotify for the purpose, you could always dedicate your old phone to that. Just connect it to your stereo system, and you will have a functioning DIY jukebox (without the quarters, of course).
Not only will this allow everyone at the party to change the tunes, but it will also spare your primary handset from the battery drain, and you will be able to use it for everything else, such as taking calls, chatting, and so on.
Cheap e-book reader for the family
Why would you buy several copies of an e-book, or deal with the frustrating family account procedures of e-book stores, when you can just repurpose one handset to do it all. Just install the Kindle app and login with an account you created for the family library, and voila.
This will also allow you to let the kids read ebooks to their heart’s content, while you keep your business-related titles on your own account. This sure sounds like a win-win, doesn’t it?
Join a botnet
Botnets are not all bad. They certainly picked up some bad rep, thanks to hackers using them to initiate a variety of denial-of-service attacks, but the technology can be used for good too. An example is BOINC – UC Berkeley’s botnet.
If you choose to join BOINC, you can simply install its app on your old Android smartphone and keep it charged. The botnet will use its resources when idle for a variety of computational tasks. Berkeley has made BOINC work on curing diseases, looking for extraterrestrial life, and whatnot. You can even choose what you want your old phone to contribute to. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Abigail Smith is communications and PR specialist for CompareAndRecycle.co.uk, a mobile phone recycling comparison site that provides visitors with the best deal for their old phones and gadgets.