There are a number of things you can do with a device that is no longer being used. It's better to donate, sell, or recycle your phone than it is to throw it in the trash. In this article, you will find some of our top suggestions for reuse of your old phone, such as how to recycle or donate it, followed by steps and guidelines on how to carry out those suggestions.

We create tens of millions of tons of e-waste every year, and just dumping it in the trash is the worst thing you could do with it. There are two different types of materials in e-waste that need special disposal processes.

  • Precious materials like rare metals are hard to mine, refine, and use in electronics. We must reclaim as many of these materials from a device at the end of its lifetime as possible so that manufacturers can minimize the new mining of these materials.
  • Hazardous materials are in every single smartphone, tablet, and wearable, especially in the batteries. Putting these materials into a landfill can actually damage the environment — and putting them in an incinerator is even worse.

We have a few ideas on how to give that phone a second life. One of the 3 Rs is reuse.

How to prepare to part with your phone

Factory reset option

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Android Central)

You can skip this section if the phone doesn't work anymore, and just take it to an EcoATM or Best Buy for recycling.


If you still have a phone, turn it on and follow the following instructions.

  1. Check the internal storage on the phone for any files you may want to hang on to. You should've done this when you first upgraded from this old phone to your new one, but it's worth combing through it one last time.
  2. Need help resetting your phone?
  3. Check the card trays and slots for any old SIM cards or microSD cards you may have left in the old phone. Remove old cards before recycling your phone.
  4. Take off the case. While cases are handy when carrying a phone, cases undergo different recycling processes than the phones themselves, so take it off.
  5. If you're planning to sell the phone online on Swappa or some other online marketplace, look around your home and gather up the original chargers and box if you can, as having the box and the original accessories can help you fetch a higher price.

Grandmas Recycled Phones 1

(Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

If you don't know what to do with your phone after you get rid of it, let's break it down to make it easier for you.

Is your phone less than 18 months old? It's possible to get some of your money back if you sell your phone. It can be helpful to sell it on swappa. You can sell new and used phones with or without the original accessories and instruction manual.

If you swap your old phone for a new one, you can get a discount as well. Both carriers and phone manufacturers accept trade-in devices. There are discounts for eligible devices.

If you want to get back money, ecoATM pays you cash on the spot for phones that still have a market value, and offers free recycling for phones that no longer have a market value.

ecoATM takes working and non-working phones without accessories or instructions.

Do you want to give your phone to a good cause? Cell Phones for Soldiers helps recycle old phones and use the funds generated from them to help soldiers and veterans.

Cell phones for veterans take working and broken phones and their accessories, but please discard the instruction manual.

It could be used around the house. If you have a phone that can still connect to your wi-fi, you could turn it into a learning or play device for a child, or even turn it into a security camera.

I want to get rid of it. Best Buy has an electronic and appliance recycling program for phones, computers, TVs, and many other types of devices. Best Buy recycles working and broken mobile phones, but please discard the cases. You can recycle devices at carrier stores. You can get old phones, accessories, and tablets at T-Mobile stores.

There is a free way to recycle your old devices. They will send you a pre-paid shipping label that you can use to send in your old phone.

Canadians can donate their devices at most carrier stores or drop-off locations hosted by Recycle My Cell.

Fairphone 4 in pieces

(Image credit: Android Central)

Fairphone is one of several companies pushing the envelope even further because more phone manufacturers are making their devices more and more sustainable. Before buying a new phone, be sure to check out our guide on the best sustainable and repairable phones.