09/13/2012 09:40 am ET Updated Nov 13, 2012

Buying the iPhone 5? Here's the Perfect (and Patriotic) Way to Use Your Old Phone

On Wednesday, Apple unveiled its much-anticipated iPhone 5 and also announced that the phone will be available in stores September 21 (pre-orders start September 14).

The two biggest differences with the latest iPhone: it will be thinner and lighter than previous models.

There are hundreds of tech Web sites currently analyzing the specs on the iPhone 5. So you won't get a breakdown here of why it is (or isn't) better than the iPhone 4S.

What you will get is a plan for the gadget you just gave up.

If you are going to buy or upgrade to the iPhone 5 this fall, what will you do with your old cellphone?

With the memory of 9/11 fresh on our minds, you can donate your old phone in a unique way to help our men and women serving bravely overseas.

It's called Cell Phones for Soldiers, and here's how it works:

You take your phone to a drop-off center (there are 50 locations within 10 miles of my apartment so they're everywhere). Cell Phones for Soldiers sells the phones to a company that recycles them. And with the money they earn, the organization purchases calling cards for soldiers abroad.

How cool is that?

The group claims it mails off 12,000 calling cards each week and since 2004 has donated 150 million minutes of free talk time.

Just think: your old iPhone can allow a soldier to talk with his/her family from a base in Afghanistan. Pretty powerful, right?

Sure, you could sell your phone to a retailer or back to Apple for cash. You could also throw it away, but the devices can let toxic metals seep into landfills. Worse yet, smartphones often wind up in developing countries where they cause health problems because they aren't properly disposed.

It's far easier -- and more meaningful -- to have your phone recycled in the U.S. so it ultimately becomes a calling card for a member of the military.

So go ahead. Buy the iPhone 5 and rejoice in the latest and greatest piece of mobile technology.

But don't leave your old phone sitting in a drawer or at the bottom of the trash.

This fall, recycle with a purpose. Giving back to our troops has never been easier.

Anyone know of other great ways to donate/recycle old cellphones? Share the knowledge!