Illustration: Elena Xausa

Bad Ideas

This Is What Would Happen If You Literally Ate Your Phone

Minced, baked, or swallowed whole, a smartphone makes a terrible meal

Steve Rousseau
Published in
4 min readOct 23, 2019


Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do, and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

AApple likes to claim that their phone recycling program is “good for you, good for the planet.” Recycling is a noble cause, but what if we didn’t have to turn to the source of our e-waste to find a solution for it? We humans have a time-tested recycling program, literally, right under our noses: our guts.

We eat things, our body extracts the nutrients we need, and then discards the rest in a solid piece of solid waste (poop). That’s good for us, and good for the planet. So, why not recycle our phones the old-fashioned way, and eat them?

There are at least two documented cases of people attempting to do just that.

According to a 2014 case study, a 35-year-old male, intoxicated, attempted to swallow their cellphone, only to lodge it in their throat. It had to be surgically removed. Another case study, published in 2016, documented a 29-year-old patient who…