Americans throw away more than 416,000 cell phones every single day — that’s nearly 152 million each year!
These cell phones, along with the millions of tons of other e-waste that end up in landfills each year, are regularly incinerated, releasing toxic, carcinogenic and climate-harming chemicals into the air.
Instead of tossing your old phone in the trash or a drawer to never be seen again, you can repurpose, reuse and recycle your old smartphone and give it a new life.
In this week’s tip, we have 6 things you can do with your old phone instead of throwing it out.
Recycle your phone
According to the United Nations, less than 20% of all e-waste is recycled, with the rest ending up in landfills and potentially harming our environment and the health of workers.
So, if your phone is no longer usable, whatever you do, don’t throw your old phone in the trash. Consider recycling it instead. Recycling conserves natural resources and helps avoid water and air pollution that comes with mining and manufacturing the precious metals in modern phones that can be recovered in the recycling process.
Apple has its own, easy-to-use recycling program for its iPhone, iPad and other products, and the EPA has a great list of options for recycling other phones and electronics.
Donate your phone
Whether or not your phone is in good shape, you can donate it to a number of charities that can repurpose a working phone for use, or recycle it and collect proceeds to fund their operations.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence accepts old phones, working or not, and other electronics to raise money for its programming to help survivors of domestic violence. Likewise, you can check to see if local charities that assist with survivors of violence or people experiencing homelessness accept cell phone donations.
Turn your phone into a webcam
If your old phone is still only a few years old, it likely has a higher resolution camera than the one built into your computer. So, why not turn your phone into a dedicated webcam? It’s a quick and easy switch, and it will improve your overall experience.
Check out our recent tip on how to turn your phone into a webcam to get started.
Home security camera
Again, utilize that great camera in your old smartphone as an inexpensive home security camera. If you have more than one old phone, you can set up multiple cameras for maximum coverage. It’s a little bit of a DIY project, but it’s a great way to repurpose your old phone.
To start, you’ll need to download and set up a home security camera app, like Alfred (available for iOS and Android). Next, position your phone’s camera in a location that you would like to monitor, like a front door or window and ensure it’s close to an outlet. Finally, you will want to mount the phone — with a tripod or a suction mount — and plug it in.
Wifi-connected baby monitors can be pricey and analog monitors aren’t connected to the internet. Enter the old smartphone baby monitor. By repurposing your old phone as a baby monitor, you can keep an eye on your little one from anywhere safely and securely from your newer smartphone.
To pull off this cool hack, you’ll need to download a baby monitor app to both smartphones (Cloud Baby Monitor for iOS or Dormi for Android) and ensure both are connected to your WiFi. Position the older phone near the crib just like you would with a regular baby monitor and ensure it remains plugged in at all times. Double-check the app’s security features as well to ensure the streams are accessible only by you.
Universal TV remote
If you’re always searching for your remote, it might be time to turn that old smartphone into a universal remote that’s a lot harder to misplace. (Here’s a reminder about finding a lost phone)
If you have a smart TV, the manufacturer or a third party developer has likely created an app that you can use to control the television. Search the App Store or Google Play for your television manufacturer to see which remotes might be available.
If you own a streaming device like Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV or something similar, you can download the manufacturer’s app straight to your old smartphone and begin using it as a remote right away.