Buy Your Next Mobile Phone The Right Way

Thinking of buying a ‘new’ mobile phone? Browsing the latest devices or looking for the best ‘new’ phone you can afford?

This probably means you’re going to dispose of your current handset and make space for that shiny new one.

Well, you’re not alone. An estimated 1.5 billion ‘new’ mobile phones are purchased worldwide each year. Which means well over a billion devices are being shoved in drawers, cupboards and boxes every 12 months. Or even worse, sent to landfill – where their metal constructions and lithium batteries emit dangerous toxins and chemicals into the air, soil, and wider environment.


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Ah… But you always recycle your old phone. You take it to a responsible organization and dispose of it in the safest, most sustainable way possible. Unfortunately, even doing this isn’t all that great for the environment.

Have you ever considered the environmental impact of recycling your mobile phone? Because even if you recycle your device when you’ve finished with it, there is still a significant effect on our planet. Much as we wish it would, recycling doesn’t solve the wider environmental problem of buying ‘new’ phones so frequently.

But wait… There’s another way!

It’s simple: Don’t buy a ‘new’ phone every couple of years. We’re not saying never treat yourself to an upgraded device. We’re saying buy a refurbished phone instead. You’ll be cutting down on waste, helping to protect the planet and saving money in the process. What’s not to like!

But before we get into why buying refurbished devices is such a good idea, let’s start by busting a couple of recycling myths…

Myth 1: Recycling is the perfect way to dispose of your mobile phone.

We know what you’re thinking… Recycling is far better than sending a mobile phone to landfill. And you’re right. But is recycling the perfect way to dispose of your device? Absolutely not.

If you send your mobile phone to a recycling center (even the most reputable ones), your broken or damaged device will always be dealt with in the same way. It’ll basically be put through an extremely powerful shredder. Here, any metal components are then sent to registered smelters and melted down, before being used in other products.

Some metals in a mobile phone’s circuitry (like gold and palladium) are recovered. But unfortunately, much of the molten metal is left to burn – releasing chloride, mercury and other toxic vapors into the atmosphere.

Myth 2: Recycling your mobile phone has no consequences for the Earth’s population.

Aside from those chemical vapors being released into the environment, another issue is the human cost of recycling. And there most definitely is one – one you don’t often hear about.

A lot of usable mobile phone circuitry is sold by recyclers. From here, they’re usually shipped to parts of Africa, China, India and Pakistan. And across these locations, you’ll find hundreds – probably thousands – of individuals cooking your old phone’s circuitry, extracting their precious metals and looking to sell them on.

This is dangerous work. The smell from ‘circuitry cooking’ has been described as toxic. Even worse, fumes from nickel, cadmium and mercury leak into the air and even the drinking water. These fumes have then been found to lead to serious health problems – including various cancers, birth defects and breathing difficulties.

So, when you send your mobile phone to even the most reputable of recyclers, there could still be potentially disastrous human effects down the line. Better than sending your device to a landfill? Yes. Great for the planet and the people on it? Not really.

What’s the answer?

We could point to improved recycling methods, or big companies – including Apple, Samsung and Amazon – offering gift cards (even cash) to take old mobile phones from you. But these are solutions that only scratch at the surface of the environmental waste problem. They’re short-term at best.

This means we need to consider better ways of alleviating waste. And that essentially means we need to stop buying ‘new’ phones. It means buying your next mobile phone in the right way. It means buying a refurbished phone.

Refurbished phones

Even to this day, refurbished phones are looked down upon – seen as worse than buying ‘new’. If you buy a device that’s been used by others, it’ll surely be more unreliable or faulty.

Well we’re here to tell you that things are changing. Refurbished phones have come a long way in the last few years. And ‘refurbished’ isn’t the same as ‘second hand’. Far from it. ‘Second hand’ phones are devices that have had at least one previous owner. They don’t need to pass any tests to be resold. They’ve don’t even need to come with any form of warranty.

In contrast, refurbished handsets must be fully checked, tested and cleaned. They should also come with a reasonable warranty – at least 6 months (ideally 12). Even better, refurbished phones are a cost-effective way of getting your hands on the latest device.

The only downside we can think of with refurbished phones is that you may have to wait for the very latest devices. ‘Refurbished’ versions of the newest handsets on the market usually take a few months to begin circulating. So, if you’re willing to wait a little while, you can get even the newest mobile phone for a great price and alleviate environmental waste at the same time!

Where can I buy a refurbished phone?

Refurbished phones can be found at a wide variety of retailers – both online and across the High Street. Places like The Big Phone Store, have got a superb range of refurbished devices: from the iconic Apple iPhone 12 to the excellent Samsung Galaxy S20.

Whatever your budget and whatever your preference, they’ll have the refurbished phone for you. All of the refurbished phones are rigorously tested, fully cleaned and had their memories wiped in accordance with the Data Protection Act. They also come with a 12-month warranty that gives you complete peace of mind.

It’s time to buy your next mobile phone in the right way. Help protect the environment. Don’t buy ‘new’. Buy ‘refurbished’!

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Harlem World Magazine is about living your best life and style around the block and around the world of Harlem.

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