Surprise! You got the new iPhone for Christmas! Or maybe you gifted it to yourself, so…no surprise. Either way, someone noticed you were still using your old Motorola Razor flip phone to make phone calls and decided to upgrade you into 2017. Now you only have one problem: what do you do with your small slice of technological history? You may have posted your listing on Craigslist and OfferUp, checked GadgetScouter for the best buyback offer, and realized your phone is just too old to sell. Don’t you dare throw it in the trash. There’s a better way to dispose of your device.

Buzzwords crop up in the tech industry and environmental departments, and “e-waste” is one that has come to light as a major problem worldwide. While there is no definite list of items considered to be e-waste, the term is associated with any consumer or business product that contains potentially hazardous electronic parts.

“More than 20 million tons of e-waste are produced every year. Americans alone generate about 3.4 million tons of e-waste per year.”*

Long story short, these electronic materials release harmful chemicals such as lead, phosphor, and mercury into the environment. According to a study published in the Environmental Impact Assessment Review in 2010, chemicals end up in bodies of water, groundwater, soil, and air. By throwing old gadgets such as cell phones, computers, tablets, etc. into the regular trash, you poison humans and animals by contaminating food and water sources.

The New, Enlightened Plan A

Hopefully you’ve decided not to chuck your electronics in the trash by now. Your e-waste isn’t going straight to the dump, so you have a few options, including repairing and donating. If you have a damaged, but slightly newer phone, choosing to repair your phone creates jobs for skilled workers. You can replace a broken screen for about $100, and if you happen to be one of the few with phone insurance, carriers might fix your phone for free.

It’s likely you don’t want to spend money to repair a device you won’t use again. In this case, it’s best to donate your device. There are plenty of websites dedicated to finding phones for those who are unable to purchase one themselves. For example, in Athens, Georgia, FreeIT advocates for free software and reducing e-waste by redistributing old electronics to those in need. If you run a search and can’t find a local donation center, both Verizon and BestBuy accept donations.

Adopt our Plan A,  and help us combat electronic waste’s damage to the environment.

Do you have more questions about e-waste? Check out these helpful websites:


* Written by Materason Roberts.