Q: Whenever I upgrade to a new phone, I usually end up sticking the old one in a drawer somewhere. I know I'm not supposed to just throw them out, but how can I get rid of them?
A: You're right, you shouldn't just toss out your old cell phones. And there's two reasons: First, while consumers are often careful to wipe their harddrives clean on their computers before replacing them, they forget that cell phones, too, contain private information. Second, they are harmful to the environment.
Your cell phone's battery -- and, sometimes, other components -- contains heavy metals that can contaminate the earth.
So you're left with three options: Recycle, donate or resell. But before you choose how to dispose of that old cell phone, remember to take a couple of minutes to remove any private information. Basic commands to delete the information stored in your phone often only delete references to the information, leaving it in the phone's operating system. Dig out that user's manual from the junk drawer or find information online that pertains to your particular make and model.
Recycling: The Environmental Protection Agency's eCycling website makes recycling your old phone as simple as possible. The page dedicated to phones links out to detailed drop-off and collection event information for all of the major cell phone makers.