Sarah’s cut the clutter to help us recycle old cell phones and computers. Here’s the newly married Sarah:
I recently switched cell phone providers, and my old cell phone is currently residing in the junk drawer of my kitchen. A mostly broken laptop from my undergraduate years takes up valuable space in my bedroom closet. (I won’t even get into the boxes in our attic that my husband has dedicated to old electronics and wires…) But we are not alone – the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that over 500 million cell phones alone collect dust in desk drawers or other storage spots around our homes! Even worse, some Americans clear out their clutter by simply throwing these items away, sending them (and the toxins they are made out of, like lead and arsenic) straight to landfills and into our soil and drinking water.
For those readers who missed spring cleaning season this year, as I did, I suggest that this week’s citizen science task should be recycling these electronic items properly. Many websites out there will even pay you to recycle! I’ve done some homework to help you out:
- Gazelle is the most comprehensive website I have found in my research. This website accepts everything from laptop computers to old graphing calculators. Though they do not offer a check for every single gadget you could send, most items yield money back ranging from $11 – $200, and any electronic item can be recycled via a postage-paid box regardless of whether or not it still has value. A search engine on their site allows the user to input items they have to recycle, assess their condition, and receive reimbursement amounts. I found this site incredibly easy to use.
- GreenPhone also offers recycling for money, but this site is for cell phones exclusively. Much like Gazelle’s webpage, anyone can search for a free quote for their particular cell phone model and mail it in using a box with pre-paid postage. However, this website will not recycle phones that do not have a market value. Instead, visit their sister site, CollectiveGood, which collects donated cell phones for charitable causes, or visit any local Staples stores to find donation bins for charities in your area.
- You can also donate your cell phone to Cell Phones for Soldiers. This charity website receives the proceeds from recycling old cell phones and uses the money for buying calling cards for soldiers overseas.
- PetSmart has a Recycle for Life campaign that allows users to either recycle their own cell phones and ink-jet cartridges or purchase those that have been recycled already. For everything donated, PetSmart will receive $2-$15 towards caring for homeless pets, and for everything purchased a $2-$5 donation.
- Craigslist can be a great way to sell items that are still in good, working condition, though it is important to be safe when making transactions. One advantage to using this website is that you can set your own values for the items you are selling, ensuring that you recover more of your initial costs.
Topics: recycling, electronics
Location: Your closets and drawers
Cost: Free – or you may even make some extra cash!
Gear: old electronics, computer with internet
Level of Difficulty: easy
Did you check on where the recycled materials go? This is a major concern as they often end up in undeveloped countries. Just curious.
I have checked into where the recycled materials go, and to some extent, my questions went unanswered. Organizations like PetSmart and Cell Phones for Soldiers have confirmed that their recycled materials do not end up in undeveloped nations (but rather they go to companies within the USA which reuse the materials and parts), but the other companies listed in this post have not yet responded. Thanks for your comment.