Last updated February 14, 2023
When it comes to recycling used goods, most people would agree that there is nothing wrong at all with donating used items to a thrift store such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill. From pots and pans to gently worn clothing, such items can enjoy a viable second life by such donations as they generally go to individuals in need of the items but unable to pay the full retail price for them.
Old cell phones, however, are another story. Many people would not consider passing them along for use by a stranger, since such phones often contain highly personal data. Even when this data has been wiped clear, privacy worries and concerns remain.
It is for this reason that Americans are far more willing to donate a used pair of shoes than a pair of old cell phones no longer in use. Unfortunately, this very reasonable impulse often means that the old cell phones end up shoved in a drawer where they will quite literally do no good at all. Even this is preferable to the frequent alternative, however, which is to toss the phone at the bottom of a garbage can, where it will eventually end up in a landfill, fouling the soil and water with toxic components as it degrades.
A much better strategy in this case is cell phone recycling via a reputable company that will tear the phone apart to harvest its valuable raw materials. This protects privacy at the same time it helps the environment.