Smart phone companies will try to squeeze out every last penny from their consumers by releasing phone models that offer incremental upgrades. They dazzle would-be buyers by showing off a new body, higher megapixel cameras, beefier processors and memory.
Marketing only shows one side of the burgeoning industry. What people may not know is that this once-a-year business of releasing new smartphone models is tough on Earth and our environment. E-waste is becoming a huge problem if we don’t start thinking and stop from mindlessly upgrading to the newest iPhone just because Apple’s ads say so.
What can we do to become more sustainable, responsible consumers? Here are a few great tips.
Consider Buying Refurbished
Refurbished often has negative labels attached to it, and that could be just what smartphone makers want. But in reality, refurbished isn’t that far from “new” products.
For starters, both new and refurbished devices are made the same way. Refurbished means that it’s either pre-owned or repaired in order to meet quality standards. Most consumers won’t actually know the difference until they’re told about it. When you make an active decision to start buying refurbished, you’re reducing your carbon footprint as well as making more savings due to a lower price tag.
Choose Green Sustainable Mobile Phones
Do some research on a phone you’d like to buy. Is it sustainable in that it can be easily repairable in the future?
Sustainable phones are those that offer zero impact on the environment. They can be easily disassembled, recycled and don’t contain harmful elements. Moreover, spare parts such as batteries or screens can be bought with little to no trouble either at a physical store or on the manufacturer’s website.
The best contract to get when upgrading with your mobile carrier is 3 years as it naturally prolongs your device’s lifespan while saving you more money in the end.
After you’ve upgraded, don’t throw your old smartphone in the trash bin. Dispose of it responsibly, or better yet, take it to a recycling platform such as Plunc.com and recoup some money along the way.
Extending The Life Of Your Smartphone
Realistically speaking, one can extend a mobile phone’s life to about 4 to 5 years before needing an upgrade. When you prolong the use and take care of your phone for 4 years instead of upgrading to a newer model once every 18 months, you reduce individual environmental impact by as much as 40%.
Some tips on how you can take care of your smart phone.
Tip 1. Protect your mobile phone from accidental spills, drops and scratches by covering it up with a screen protector and case.
Tip 2. Constantly check for software upgrades so you can be protected against malware and other security risks.
Tip 3. Protect your screen from burn-in damage. Good practice includes not turning the brightness all the way up, setting a screen timeout and choosing a darker theme. OLEDs are particularly susceptible to this type of problems, and it won’t hurt or cost you anything by following our advice.
Tip 4. Don’t leave your phone charging overnight and unplug it once the battery level reaches 100%. Use more efficient, low-energy chargers so you can reduce carbon emissions.
Tip 5. Actively choose not to use your smartphone on certain days. According to The Guardian, carbon emission depends on how many people are using a particular app. A data centre that runs 24/7 can consume a lot of power due to high demands, i.e., photo sharing, Snapchats, email, messaging and social media. When you do a “smartphone detox”, you’re one less load on that power demand.
It’s certainly tempting in a consumer’s standpoint to immediately reach for a new device when their current one breaks or experiences problems. After all, repairs are time-consuming, inconvenient and you wouldn’t want to be without a smartphone for several days, right?
If there’s one reason why you should consider having your phone repaired, it’s the fact that production of new phones is heavy on nature and the environment. Sometimes you’ll find that the repair is simple and only costs a little. In some cases, you won’t need a loaner phone as it can be repaired in an hour. You can extend your smartphone’s lifespan and reduce your individual carbon footprint.
The hardest part of being environmentally sustainable is the first step. Once you actively make responsible, green decisions, following through will become second nature. What’s more, you’ll gain a sense of satisfaction and pride knowing that your smart phone has served you faithfully for years, and that you’ve squeezed out every last bit of use to protect our beloved planet.