Don’t throw away your old iPhone: 7 eco-friendly alternatives

If you’re planning to buy a new iPhone, it’s probably time to take your old device out as well. But what to do with your old iPhone? If the device is already broken beyond repair, should you just throw it in the trash?

Let’s take a look at why you shouldn’t throw away an old iPhone and some green ways to pass your old iPhone instead.

Why you shouldn’t throw away your iPhone

With today’s consumer culture and mass manufacturing, it has become the norm in society to buy new toys and just get rid of old items when you do. Your broken iPhone may appear to be just another small object. However, throwing it away contributes to the growing problem of electronic waste every year.

pile of discarded electronic waste

Many older devices are burned in incinerators or buried in landfills. These processes release toxic chemicals into the air we breathe and contaminate groundwater. Electronic waste has far-reaching and dangerous consequences that will eventually affect you.

Whether you have a still working or damaged device, we recommend that you take one of these green steps with your old iPhone instead.


1. Trade with Apple

apple logo on the glass entrance

Your first stop may be the original manufacturer of your iPhone: Apple. If you trade with Apple, you get credit that helps you save money on your new iPhone.

The model of your iPhone is the first factor that determines its value. For example, at the time of this writing, Apple’s trade-in page lists the estimated trade-in value of an iPhone X up to $ 200. For the iPhone 12, it’s up to $ 450. Apple Authorized Resellers offer similar take-back services.

Keep in mind that these are the maximum prices offered. Devices in poor condition or that won’t turn on will receive lower quotes. If your iPhone is found to be ineligible for a trade-in, Apple still offers to recycle your device for free.

2. Interact with online sites

hands holding money, which are american dollar bills

Maybe you’re not impressed with what Apple has to offer for your old iPhone. Maybe you aren’t planning on buying another Apple product anytime soon, so the store credit isn’t worth it. If this is your case, a great option is to trade with sites online and get real money instead.

Related: The Best Sites To Sell Your Phone For Cash

Most of these companies will buy your old iPhone, even if it is broken. It’s better than Apple’s “free recycling” process because you get money for the sale of your damaged device.

Since we’re talking about being environmentally friendly, you can also choose to sell your phone to trade-in companies that engage in some form of corporate social responsibility. For example, GizmoGrind plants a tree for every device sold. BuyBack Boss helps donate your payment to Lighthouse for Hope.

3. Sell it like a used iPhone

To sell used, you will need to make sure that your old iPhone is still fully functional and in good condition. Reach out to your friends in person, via text, or on social media to see if anyone is looking for an older device at a reduced price. If you can’t find buyers in person, try an online platform like Swappa.

The biggest advantage of selling the device yourself is that you will have more control over how much you want to get for your old iPhone. You can negotiate the price one-on-one with potential buyers.

However, if your old iPhone is broken and unusable, no one will want it. It is best to use the exchange methods described above to withdraw at least some money from your device.

4. Donate to non-profit organizations

Boy's hands touching red paper heart cutout on wooden floor

Finding a new owner for your iPhone isn’t always about getting the right price. It can also mean helping out where it’s needed.

You can donate your old phone to nonprofit organizations, such as the 911 Cell Phone Bank. Its goal is to distribute usable phones to the less fortunate in society, who often cannot afford new devices themselves. Since 2004, it has donated more than 150,000 phones to vulnerable groups, including victims of abuse and the elderly.

Other organizations can provide a list of drop-off points where people can leave their recyclable gadgets. Once these devices are collected, they are sold to recycling centers. This provides a source of income for nonprofits to maintain themselves, which in turn allows them to continue the incredible work they do.

5. Give it as a gift

If your iPhone is fairly new, another good option is to give it away as a gift. Try asking around to see if anyone in your family has a child who is ready for a new phone. Or maybe a close friend is looking for a newer model right now, but can’t afford it right away.

Handing over your once beloved iPhone to someone familiar gives you the assurance that your device will be appreciated and cherished by good hands for many years to come.

6. Take it to recycling plants

white recycle symbol on blue color recycle bin

If your iPhone is too outdated to function as a gift, or is broken beyond exchange, you can also choose to recycle it directly. This way, you will know that your device is in the hands of recyclers, with no middleman.

There are different recycling sites that you can use to find a recycling location in your area. They work like a directory. All you have to do is enter what you want to recycle – in this case, a cell phone – and enter your zip code.

The site map will then display all of the nearby places that you can visit to drop off your specific type of tech waste.

7. Reuse your iPhone

If you are not ready to ditch your old iPhone completely, you can still use the features of your device.

There are lots of creative ways to reuse your old smartphone. For example, you can download all your music on the old iPhone and use it as a dedicated offline music player. You can also use it as a GPS by docking your old iPhone permanently in your car.

A final option is to keep it as a spare smartphone. If your new iPhone needs an emergency fix, your old iPhone will be there to replace it during this time.

What to do with an old iPhone

Throwing your old or damaged iPhone in the trash is harmful to our planet. With reliable exchange services and recycling centers, you can ensure that the precious metals in your iPhone will eventually be melted down and turned into new devices.

If your iPhone is still working, giving it away also extends the life of your device and offers great value to those who need it. By selling, donating or reusing it, you are taking the ecological step of passing on your old iPhone responsibly.

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