E-waste & Refurbished Phones


Gargantuan multinational corporations have created a disaster for the environment in the manufacturing and distribution of the modern smartphone. Landfills the world over are packed with electronic waste that contains toxic components that are found in all common smartphones. When recycled, 75 pounds of gold and over 35,000 pounds of copper can be recovered from 1 million cell phones alone. The problem is, only about twenty percent of e-waste actually is properly recycled, and due to the excessive amount of lead found in e-waste, if it is released into the environment it can cause real damage to us by affecting our blood, kidneys, central, and peripheral nervous systems. And you shouldn’t be surprised learning we trash plenty of cell phones. Between the rapidity at which companies like Apple and Samsung release new, flashier phones, and our consumer culture that has us lining up overnight for them, we just have too many products being introduced into the market and not enough staying in circulation. But there’s a simple way that you as a consumer can contribute to a more green smartphone market while saving money and without going off the grid.


Supporting small businesses that repair and sell refurbished smartphones will be essential in fighting this disturbing trend. The best part is, this comes with zero downside to the consumer. In fact, one of the first things you’ll notice when shopping for a refurb are the massive savings! You can often see savings of 30-50 percent just because of the lack of a sticker reading “new” on the box. But even if you’ve got the cash to shell out for the hottest phone on the market, you can do more good than you think just by waiting a little while for the refurbs to start popping up. Most people only use a brand new phone for about two years before discarding it, so by opting for a refurb instead of the sealed box straight from the Apple store, you are dramatically extending the lifespan of the device. You can also rest a little easier knowing that when you go refurbished, your money will go directly to the business that refurbished it for you instead of the multinational giants causing this harm and exploiting poor labor laws across the world that allow for cruel and unsafe work conditions.


You may think to yourself, “yeah, I’d love to save the world, but if this refurb breaks the week after I buy it, what good am I really doing?” But don’t worry, because of the modular nature of the modern smartphone, oftentimes only one minor component of the device will be broken (such as the headphone jack or the internal speaker) and will be easily replaced by a qualified technician without any harm done to the phone whatsoever. Not to mention only about five percent of refurbished electronics are actually defective to begin with.  You’ll also need not worry about stifling through someone’s old selfies and dog photos, a technician will factory reset the device before it ever gets in your hands, making your refurbished smartphone literally as good as new.

statistics on e-waste can be found here

By: Seth Hilburn

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