12:20 PM

Your Old Cell Phone Could Lead To Charitable Causes

Best Buy this week launched a mail-in recycling program that lets people donate used or unwanted cell phones. Many wireless carriers have similar programs, with proceeds from resales going to charities.

The next time you decide to upgrade your cell phone, think twice before throwing the old one into a storage closet or the trashcan. You can donate it to help a charity.

Cell phone recycling programs are popping up everywhere, with good intentions in mind. Best Buy this week launched a mail-in recycling program at its stores that lets people donate used or unwanted cell phones. The retailer is giving free pre-paid envelopes to customers who buy cell phones or related equipment, so they can mail-in their old cell phone when they get home.

Old cell phones, regardless of make, model, or condition, can be mailed to ReCellular, Best Buy's recycling partner, which refurbishes and resells cells phones, or disassembles them and recycles the materials. A $1 donation will be made to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America for each cell phone.

Most major wireless carriers have rolled out similar programs. Sprint, Cingular, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile all encourage their customers to drop off their old cell phones at retail stores, where they will be picked up and recycled instead of ending up in landfills or incinerators. The carriers also donate the proceeds from their resale of the phones to charities.

Other recycling programs have successfully raised money to help different charities in the U.S. GRC Wireless Recycling, for example, contributed $3 million to non-profit organizations through its Shelter Alliance and Recycling Alliance programs, according to the company. Another recycling company, Project RE-cell, raised more than $45,000 for schools, churches, and other non-profits.

But it's not easy to part with a cell phone you've spent $150 on a year ago. For those looking to reclaim some of the money, will buy a cell phone, as long as it's in good working condition. All a seller has to do is locate their cell phone by manufacturer and model in the drop down list on the Web site, identify the model number, and locate the ID tag on the phone.

Cellforcash will estimate the cost and pay the seller within 45 days of the receipt of the cell phone. A used Nokia 3100 might net about $24. It's not much, but it'll net six vanilla lattes at Starbucks.

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