Question:

Is my old cell phone something I can donate?

Cell Phone Donation

Worldwide, cell phones are becoming ubiquitous. And, with falling prices and changing standards, they are also becoming throw-away items. In fact, in the United States, handsets are cast off, on average, after 18 months.

Unfortunately, for all their convenience and increasing affordability, cell phones are difficult to dispose of safely. Because they contain toxics-rich semiconductor chips, LCD displays and batteries, and because their casings tend to be composed of hard-to-recycle plastics, cell phones are filling up landfills and leeching potentially toxic chemicals into surrounding soil and groundwater. Luckily, the challenge to recycle cell phones had created another opportunity to give to charities. As with vehicles, there are many organizations, such as The Charitable Recycling Program (www.charitablerecycling.com), that will accept your own cell phone and recycle it for you, then use or distribute the proceeds of that recycling to charities.

There are organizations to which you can donate cell phones, where they will be used to help fulfill the organization's mission. In some cases, your cell phone might be given to a domestic abuse victim so that she has a way to call for help. Communication is a very important aspect of community development and crime prevention; donated cell phones are also often put to use in areas that need crime prevention, and can even play a role in apprehending criminals, as when they are used to spread an Amber Alert.

The Wireless Foundation (www.wirelessfoundation.org) accepts phones for these purposes, and you can also talk to local shelters to see if they would accept your cell phone, its batteries and accessories. Finally, your wireless service provider might run its own program or work with existing programs, and will surely fill you in on details!

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Jerry Mayo