A sad side-effect of our wired world is the amount of high-tech junk that gets thrown out.
The average American family tosses out 176 pounds of electrical waste each year. That's the size of 400 iPhones, and in fact, our smart phones are a big part of the problem.
When your phone plan is up every two years, the average home fills up with useless old cell phones.
Here are seven thrifty and useful ways you can recycle your old phones - no tech knowledge required!
1. Use It As A 911 Phone
Most people don't realize this, but even old, disconnected phones are useful in an emergency.
Regardless of whether your smartphone is on a plan - or even has a SIM card - it's able to connect to 911 and other emergency numbers.
In fact, these calls can even work in locations with no cell reception (because your phone will still "ping" the nearest tower).
On a camping trip or a vacation, it can be handy to bring along an old phone. You can take pictures with it, and more importantly you can dial for help in an emergency.
2. Make It A TV Remote
Even if you don't obsess over the latest technology, by now you probably have some kind of smart TV setup.
If you use a digital box, like the Roku, you can control your television with a phone by downloading the box's mobile app.
While each app is different, this general idea also works for Amazon Fire, Apple TVs, and many other smart TV brands.
With some added attachments, your phone can also control other smart appliances, like a special light switch or a Nest thermostat.
3. Use It As A Baby Monitor
There's a whole range of free apps that transform your phone into a baby monitor.
Of course, you need two phones to get the full experience, which is why this is a great use for your old phone.
Keep it plugged in with the app turned on, and you can access the camera feed at any time from your new phone.
Depending on your budget, you can use a free app or a premium one with live two-way audio.
Some can also link up with other gadgets like motion sensors. It's an investment, but still cheaper than a typical baby monitor security system.
A few apps will even play soothing music and lullabies for your baby at the touch of a button.
4. Make A Digital Clock
You know that one room in your house that just doesn't have a clock for some reason?
It's such a pain to be in there when you're waiting for something - you need to keep checking your phone or poking your head out to check the time.
And since all smartphones have built-in alarm clocks, your old phone can be a cheap clock for a guest bedroom, office, or any other room of the house.
5. Use It As A Stereo
Here's another dirt cheap way to recycle your phone as another appliance.
All you need is a pair of speakers that plug into your phone - big or small - which you can get for an affordable price at any electronics store.
For the music, you can transfer over your CD collection through iTunes, or use a streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music.
And voila! Your old phone has become your own personal jukebox, with access to just about any song you can think of.
6. Turn It Into A Security Camera
Like other ideas, this involves downloading a special app - there are a number that turn your phone into a live video camera.
You'll need to keep your phone plugged in, and find a way to position it high up.
Just like the baby monitor apps, many security camera apps feature live two-way audio.
You can even use your new phone to check the feed from anywhere, giving you complete peace of mind when you're away from home.
7. Give It To Charity
Maybe you don't need a new home security system - or would rather not learn how to use a new app. We understand.
Plenty of local charities will accept used smartphones, but we have a few suggestions:
Cell Phones For Soldiers recycles used phones and puts them in the hands of active-duty military members and veterans. Your phone could become a lifeline connecting a soldier to their family back home.
You can also download Verizon's HopeLine app to learn how to donate your phone to victims of domestic abuse. The cell phones, with free minutes provided by Verizon, are an important resource for people escaping their abusive households.
If you would rather just recycle your old phone, be sure to follow the EPA's Electronics Donation and Recycling plan.
[H/T: Reader's Digest]