Refurbished Cell Phones – Environmentally Friendly?

Posted by Contributor

Everywhere you look – in the news, in the community, even in popular advertising campaigns – the environment is a hot topic. People everywhere are looking for ways to “go green” and are learning that they can make more environmentally friendly decisions in nearly every area of their life. Surprisingly, those high-tech devices that we all can’t seem to leave home without are no exception. Yes, you can make eco-friendly decisions with your cell phone. I’m not talking about switching to paperless billing (although that is a good idea, too), though. What I’m talking about is used cell phones. Used cell phones help reduce waste and the pollution associated with manufacturing new cell phones. When you consider that over 100 million cell phones are replaced every year in the US alone, you can see the huge potential for an impact that we have. The biggest problem with cell phones comes to light when we go to dispose of them. Cell phones, like most electronics, do not belong in landfills. They don’t biodegrade and they contain chemicals in them that can be harmful of they make their way in to the soil, waterways, or even the air via incineration.

So, what can we do? Not surprisingly, it’s as simple as applying the old “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” adage to our cell phone usage as well. Here’s how:

Cell phones are certainly handy devices, and it seems that new phones with newer (and better?) features come out every week. This leads to a huge number of people constantly upgrading their phones for newer models. We all like to have the latest and greatest technology in our hands, but the downside of this habit/obsession is that it produces a lot of waste that ends up in places like landfills, where it doesn’t belong. To help fight this issue, I encourage you to reduce the frequency in which you purchase a new cell phone. Granted, some phones break or get lost and must be replaced, but if you’re one of those people that gets a new phone every 6 months just because, you should consider reducing your turnover rate. If we all held on to the phone that we have for 6 months longer than we want to, we can have a huge impact on the environment in the form of less toxic waste.

Second, when you do need to replace a lost or broken phone, don’t immediately drive down to your local cellular provider’s store. Instead, look in to phones in the used or refurbished cell phone market. Often, you can find the exact same phone that you want to purchase at your vendor’s store in the used market. However, purchasing a refurbished Verizon cell phones cuts down on waste AND saves you money. A win/win.

Last but not least, when you replace an old phone, make sure you take the necessary steps to recycle your old phone. As I said above, used cell phones do not belong in the garbage. Instead, take advantage of the numerous cell phone disposal/recycling programs available in your area that will either dispose of the phone in an environmentally friendly way or will take the phone and donate it to somebody that will get use out of it (e.g. to the program that sends phones to overseas soldiers to use to call home).

So, the next time you think you need a new phone, ask yourself why you’re considering a new one and keep the above in mind. Remember that “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” applies to cell phones as well. Not only will you be able to save yourself some money (by purchasing refurbished Alltel Blackberry), but you’ll also be able to do another small thing to help our depleting environment.

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