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What to do with your old iPhone

If you just upgraded to one of those swank new iPhones, you’re probably wondering what on earth to do with your old one. Don’t let it sit in a drawer. Get rid of it in an earth-friendly way (and maybe make some cash, too!).

3 old iPhones

The Silicone Valley Toxic Corporation estimated in 2006 that about 70 percent of heavy metals in U.S. landfills comes from discarded electronics. The faster cell phone companies change models, the faster this problem grows. So before you just toss that old phone in the garbage, check out these Mother Earth-approved ways to rid yourself of your old iPhone.

Apple purchase or recycling program

Depending on the age of your device, Apple offers two options to get rid of your old electronics. If your iPhone, iPad, Mac or even PC computer is worth something, you can turn it in and get an Apple gift card in the amount it’s appraised for by a third-party company. If it’s not, you can still send it to Apple without spending a dime. The recycling program applies to any electronic equipment, regardless of brand or age, so you can even pull that old flip-phone out of the junk drawer and let Apple’s partner, Sims Recycling Solutions, take care of it for you.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence donation program

The NCADV invites you to donate your iPhone to help victims of domestic violence. While many items are accepted, including any cell phones, laptops, mp3 players, digital cameras and video game systems, they’re on the lookout for iPhones and Blackberries.

Just head to their website for the address of their partner, Cellular Recycler, and mail in your phone with “ATTN: NCADV” on the address label. They’ll even provide free shipping if you have three or more phones. When Cellular Recycler receives the phone, they’ll assess it. If it can be refurbished, they’ll sell it, and a portion of the proceeds go back to NCADV to go toward their efforts of helping stop violence. If it can’t be refurbished, it will be responsibly recycled. It’s even tax-deductible.

AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint

Most carriers provide a recycling option. You just drop your phone off at the store or send it in to an address provided on their website and they’ll see that it’s responsibly recycled. In fact, some carriers that don’t carry iPhones may take them for recycling.


If you’d like to make a little cash on your old iPhone, there are many online retailers that will buy your old iPhone and give you cold, hard cash (well, it’s probably a check, but you can exchange it for cold, hard cash). One of our favorites is Gazelle.

Not only do they have an option to price-lock your estimate on your old phone until Oct. 31 (just in case you didn’t manage to get your hands on the color or model you wanted yet), but in addition to getting up to $300 depending on the model and condition of your phone, you’ll be entered to win $1 million when you make a sale before the end of this year. So if you’re lucky, that old phone could be worth a lot more than you think — just in time to pay off that Christmas debt you racked up.

Pass it on

If you’ve come into a new phone, another option is to give your old phone to your hubby or kids. If the person you’re giving it to has their own slightly older iPhone, you may even be able to simply switch the SIM card from the old phone into the new one, then donate or sell their old phone.

If you’re worried your preteen may be too young for a cell phone, consider the following.

  • Smartphones allow you to get in touch when you need to change plans or you’re running late for a pickup.
  • The iPhone has several apps that work even on older models that allow you to track your kids, so lying about being at Jaime’s house is no longer an option.
  • The games available give your kids something to do when they get stuck waiting for you, so less whining.
  • Parental controls exist to allow you to disable access to certain features (like turning off the location feature) or restrict certain content.


If you’re still not convinced, take our quiz to find out if you kid is ready for a cell phone.

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