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Charitable Recycling: Eyeglasses, Printer Cartridges and Mobile Phones

Charitable Recycling: Eyeglasses, Printer Cartridges and Mobile Phones

Who doesn’t keep old eyeglasses as a backup when they get a new pair—and end up with an overflowing drawer of dated glasses we wouldn’t be caught dead in now. If you find yourself in a drawer-cleaning frenzy, you might turn to our favorite recycling guide for advice on what to do with that pile of old glasses. We also stumbled across what to do with printer cartridges (also in a drawer) and mobile phones (yes, they usually have a drawer too). Here are some tips on how to recycle eyeglasses, printer cartridges and mobile phones—those junk drawer items it just doesn’t feel right to throw away—and learn how to contribute to charity at the same time.

These tips are from Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: An Easy Household Guide by Nicky Scott–a great resource for figuring out what to do with the random items that are not listed in basic recycling guides. Our municipal recycling charts tell us all about juice cartons and newspapers, but eyeglasses and mobile phones? No. So, Nicky, take it away (so to speak).

Eyeglasses
Take eyeglasses to retailers for use in the third world. The Lions Club has a huge eyeglass recycling program. In 2005 they collected more than 5 million pairs of eyeglasses, distributing them to more than 3 million people in developing nations.

Note: Call (800)CLEANUP for a list of drop-off centers for your old eyeglasses. These centers are affiliated with a program called Give the Gift of Sight, which is sponsored by the Lions Club and LensCrafters.

Printer Cartridges
There are a growing number of businesses that will buy empty inkjet cartridges–as well as fundraising options such as Cartridges for Kids. Many print cartridge manufacturers will provide a prepaid envelope for convenient recycling. Always turn off a printer so that it parks the print head to prevent the cartridge head from drying up.

Mobile Phones
Recycling you mobile phone can help to reduce the impact that mining of the mineral coltan is having on the wildlife (think: gorillas) and forests of Congo. Coltan is used to process the rare element tantalum required in the manufacture of mobile phones.

• You can return your unwanted mobile phone and accessories directly to retail outlets throughout the country. Some states have introduced legislation requiring all wireless phone providers to accept phones for reuse or recycling.

Sprint Project Connect is a recycling program from Sprint, who accepts all makes and models of phones regardless of the service provider. Proceeds go to programs focusing on children and Internet safety.

•You can send your phone to Phones 4 Charity, an organization that supports a number of charities including the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Wildlife Federation. Non-working phones are recycled.

• Donate your phone to the national Call to Protect program, which provides phones to domestic violence agencies; phones are refurbished and become lifelines for domestic violence survivors when faced with an emergency situation.

Read more: Home, Community Service, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, , , ,

Adapted from Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: An Easy Household Guide by Nicky Scott (Chelsea Green, 2007).

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

121 comments

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11:20AM PDT on May 8, 2014

That's a great idea and much better than letting things to go waste and take up space in a landfill. At least some bit of good can be accomplished while helping others and what's better than that?

11:01AM PDT on May 8, 2014

I enjoy fundraising for various non-profit animal rescues by recycling items. I had no idea eyeglasses can be recycled. Good to know. Thanks!

5:34PM PST on Feb 19, 2014

What a great idea...we will promote this one, and we will definitely donate any returns that we have coming in. One prescription eyeglasses at a time we can make a change and help those who have limited access and finances.

9:23PM PDT on May 30, 2012

this post was very interesting. i have a pair of an old unnecessary Oakley eyeglasses
.I felt sorry for somewhere to throw them out. And now I know that they can pass and they can still help someone.It is very important for people to think of such trifles, and would be more responsible.

10:55PM PDT on May 25, 2011

Everyone should contribute in recycling mobile phones. Mobile Phone Recycling in proper way is necessary to prevent all the ill-effects caused because of them. All the mobile manufacturers like Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson, HTC and other manufactures give good price to the customers those who handle the unused mobile phones to recycle.

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