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recycle mobile phonesRecycle mobile phones. I wish that should be the catchphrase for all of us to live by. While researching this article, I came across quite a few official mobile industry websites of consumer rich countries dedicated to recycling old mobile phones. So, the message is being sent out. But on the ground, is it finding its place anywhere other than the dumpster? I hope so.

Recycling mobile phones has never been easier. But if you think that there’s some life still left in that old ringer, you could still squeeze a little something out of it before you hand it over to a recycling program. You go creative and recycle your mobile phone and give it a second life. Wrack your brains. Prick the creativity inside you, and take inspiration from these eight creative ideas.

An Old Mobile Phone & An Objet D’Art

recycle mobile phones

You and I know that it would take something to be as creative as the following examples listed to turn an old mobile phone into an art object. But as long as it can be done, maybe the more arty among us can think up something. First, let’s say wow to Rob Petit who took discarded old phones and recycled them into flowers, paintings, murals and more. His inspiration was to use cell phone art to highlight the proliferation and waste of cell phones. The good thing is that he is not the only one.

Look at Joe McKay who combines disused or damaged cellphones and turns them into tech objects or interesting sculptures. If you do a Google Search, you will get many more.

Take An Old Cellphone To An Adventure

ways to recycle mobile phones

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Let’s look at a few ideas we common folk can do. Going on an adventure trip with a new well-specced smartphone (the latest iPhone perhaps) could result in severe grief if you dunk it into the water or make it meet a mishap. Why not swap your SIM card and take along your old phone instead. A SIM is easily replaceable; a new object of desire is not.

Repurpose An Old Phone Into An Emergency-Only Device

ways to recycle mobile phones

Apart from recycling a mobile phone into a paperweight, this is the most common practical advice I came across. You can keep your old mobile phone in the dashboard and use it for an emergency call. As long as the battery holds, you can call an emergency number like 911 from a phone that does not have a SIM card. This eHow article also says that it’s a Federal law that allows it to be so.

Use An Old Phone As A Teaching Aid For Your Kids

ways to recycle mobile phones

Kids of today are born into a digital world. I personally think kids should be encouraged to see cellphones as more than a texting device. A simple use for kids could be use an old cameraphone to collect pictures of flowers and leaves, rocks, or even insects and study them later (look at Project Noah and this WSJ article). Kids can use Google Goggles to identify artwork and landmarks among other things. Mobile podcasting could be an alternative to homework and far more interesting. If the old mobile phone is a smartphone, then apps are available in plenty that can help to recycle the mobile phone into a carry-along study tool.

Use An Old Phone As A Webcam Or Remote Camera

recycle mobile phone

An old phone with a camera can easily be converted into a webcam with the right kind of app for that make and model. We have readers asking us the very same question in our Answers answers answers Read More section. Here are two we managed to answer:

  • The Mobiola Web Cam solution is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile or Symbian (Nokia only) smartphones but it is not free.
  • If you have an iPhone, you can go for iWebCamera ($4.99) and use it to video chat over Skype or anything else.
  • iCam – a webcam video streaming iPhone app ($4.99) can be set up on a discarded iPhone (rare, but people do discard iPhones too!) and used as a remote surveillance camera.
  • Android users could look into IP Webcam, SmartCam, and DroidCam as possible alternate webcam solutions. All are free and you can follow the individual instructions to set them up. I haven’t tried them all, so do send in your comments on their user-friendliness.

Heard About The Mobile Mouse?

recycle mobile phone

You can use your old Android smartphone and even an iPhone as a mobile mouse, wireless remote, keyboard or trackpad. Google Play has Remote Mouse (free), Android Mouse and Keyboard (free), and Mobile Mouse (paid). Mobile Mouse is also available for the iPhone ($1.99). An app like HippoRemote LITE (free) can turn your iPhone into a Wi-Fi keyboard and trackpad – perfect for presentations. Need another iPhone app as a wireless keyboard and trackpad – try Touch Mouse (free).

Repurpose An Old Cellphone Into A Remote Start For Your Car

recycle mobile phone

A bit of circuitry knowhow and Dave Hacks could help you turn that old cellphone (with a few calling minutes) into a cheap remote start for your car. The tutorial is in three parts. There are quite a few mobile hacks for cars, but this one is worth a look because the tutorial is detailed and you start off with a cheap $10 cellphone. All the parts required for the assembly cost the project $71.03.

Learn Jailbreaking Or Rooting

recycle mobile phones

Jailbreaking an iPhone A Newbie's Guide to Jailbreaking [iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad] A Newbie's Guide to Jailbreaking [iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad] Read More or rooting an Android phone How To Root Your Android Phone With SuperOneClick How To Root Your Android Phone With SuperOneClick Read More isn’t only for the techies. There are a lot of benefits that could convince you to learn the ‘science’ behind hacking your phone. You wouldn’t risk trying it on a new phone as a new hand in the phone hacking business, so why not put up the old smartphone on the altar. There are several benefits to rooting or jailbreaking. Android users can use custom ROMs (How To Install A Custom ROM On Your Android How To Install A Custom ROM On Your Android How To Install A Custom ROM On Your Android Read More ) to give their old mobiles a facelift. iPhone users can play with the whole gallery of Cydia apps on a jailbroken iPhone. Follow the links included in the text to learn about what all you can do with a hacked phone.

Well, that’s not all. We have covered a few more ideas before –

Then there are the millions of apps on Google Play and iTunes that can give old smartphones a lease of life. I personally use my old phone as a FM radio player in the bathroom. What’s your creative idea to recycle your mobile phone without throwing it out or handing it down to someone else? Pitch it in the comments.

Image Credits: Emergency Number 911 via ShutterstockCellular splashing into water via Shutterstock, Cellphone With Recycle Sign by tungphoto

  1. Julie Brown
    January 20, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    I use one of my iPhone 4 as a clock. It is sitting on a book shelf in the den. I call it my iClock. I use another iPhone 4 as a desk lamp in my office. And, yes, I call it my iLight. Repurposing is free fun.

    • Saikat Basu
      January 20, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      Nice. But the "4" still has the processing power for a lot more things.

    • Julie Brown
      January 20, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Yes it does Saikat. I have a lot of old phones, computers, iPods, iPads, notebooks etc.going back to my first piece of personal "tech" the Commodore Plus/4. While I had that at home I was writing my own programs in Fortran Four and punching IBM cards at the university. So I have had 32 years to collect, repurpose or retire my tech. And just for a silly example I posted my comment about the "4" s I have found two very simple uses for. I also have an iPaperWeigh. And the list goes on......????

    • witold
      February 28, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Do you have any ideas for camera or maybe processor from iphone 5? im looking for something interestig.

  2. kckumarraja
    October 18, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Nice one and it is very important to protect the e-waste and definitely i will do it

  3. Aref
    September 24, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Great ideas and interested.
    I have a mobile phone with broken display, it is working but it can only receive calls.
    That can be used for some application.


  4. Albert Kannemeyer
    August 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I use my old cellphones as remote cameras and alarm systems using worldwatcher software. I find it a way to put those old phones that usually just lay around to good use. I am saving a lot of money on security that way. I get an email with a photo when motion is detected. And I can set it to send photos on a schedule to my email address. The remote eyes can be commanded remotely from anywhere in the world. This software costs only $2.50 ! Have a look at

    • Saikat Basu
      August 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      Hey Albert, thanks for the input. That sounds like huge savings!

  5. FNmagic
    May 11, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Ummm...if it is your old phone how do you use it as anything without having to still pay into a monthly plan? I know some phones won't even boot without a functional SIM card, which you will probably transfer to the new phone. The webcam idea wouldn't work without a data plan or at least the ability to connect to WiFi. Also, the person using his old phone for a car alarm would have to pay a monthly fee to use GPS and have the phone accept calls. Unless you put your old phone on a cheap family plan where you only have to pay a small fee for additional phones or a pay as you go type deal, I don't see most of these working. If you are going to pay extra to keep your old phone working, then I would suggest using it as a secret phone for cheating, drug dealing, making threatening stalker calls, spying on a spouse using GPS tracking and auto answer for eavesdropping, spy camera for perverts, vibrator for perverts, a secret hiding spot for all your porn, and the classic cell phone bomb detonator.

    • Saikat Basu
      May 14, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      Phone plans are getting cheaper by the day. And you can achieve these with a minimal plan. Here in my country, cellphone operators usually push a free SIM with our main connections, so it works out to be a cheap solution sometimes if you use it for minimal tasks or just to keep an alternate phone going.

    • Patriot
      July 3, 2012 at 1:48 am

      ever heard of a usb cord? all you do is connect and turn on the camera function, the video camera so you are sure to understand lol. the camera and the video still work fine as do voice recorders and on most of the smartphones, WiFi will also work where you can use it through your computer similar to vonage but with no other issues. try rooting for dummy's lol unless it is an iPhone then jailbreak for dummy's hahaha. Why would you even post except perhaps you wanted a genuine homeland security file for suggesting terrorist activities. And fortunately Since ALL phones sim car, gps or not, are by mandate of the United States federal courts ordered to be able to make a 911 call, at least if you try one stupid terrorist or rapist stalking pervert ideas, anyone will be able to grab any phone, minutes or not, since I imagine you are prepaid or a burner, and call the authorities on your butt when these fantasies you are exuding begin to manifest themselves.

    • Saikat Basu
      July 5, 2012 at 5:13 am

      Thanks for the opinion.

  6. Avi jit
    May 6, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Very cool article. i like the jail breaking and art things..!!

  7. Toby
    May 5, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    great article! I have a friend who uses his old phones as makeshift alarms for his cars and motorcycles. It's quite nifty. Of course he doesn't use it as a siren alarm tho. What he does is connect the phone to one of those big science fair project batteries (to keep it charged for long periods of time)and put it in his bike or hide it somewhere in the car. then he puts the phone on auto answer and the ringer on silent. If someone steals his bike or car all he has to do is call the phone and when it automatically picks up, track it via GPS.

    • Saikat
      May 6, 2012 at 5:47 am

      Hey, that's a great tip. And easily workable too. Thanks for sending it in.

  8. Ralph Patrick Villaluz
    May 5, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Great article sir. I have an old Nokia 6120 classic, and I was trying to find a way on how to turn it into a webcam. Good thing I found this. Thanks!

  9. Kyem Ghosh
    May 5, 2012 at 4:58 am

    Hello Saikat. Its a nice article. And as you said here, I use one of my old nokia s60v3 phone as a webcam and I suggest to use a phone camera as webcam for those who are planning to buy a webcam. There are lots of free applications available for different platforms. I generally use epicam. It supports bluetooth transfer but its far better to use a usb cable for a free flow transfer without any buffering.

    Saikat, will you do me a favor of suggesting an app for using my nokia c6 00 (s60v5) as a wireless touchpad and use its sliding qwerty keyboard as a wireless pc keyboard? I've tried many such apps but those are all just mouse controllers and I need to navigate using the arrows on the screen. which is quite uneasy!!!!

    • Saikat
      May 5, 2012 at 10:16 am

      It would have been easy had it been an Android device. A search didn't reveal any way to turn a Nokia phone into a wireless keyboard. Tell you what - why don't you put up the question in our Answers section so that a wider community can join in to answer it.


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