Over the past few years, there have been concerns raised about the bottom-line of becoming a more sustainable consumer. When you hear 'going green', you may picture solar panel installations or electric car purchases, which at the moment are costly measures for moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Luckily, there are alternative ways to take the eco-conscious route, and by changing your consumer behaviour, you can increase your personal savings in the long-term too. If you are thinking about B.Y.O.B, organising meat-free days or cycling to work, go for it. But we are here to reveal a lesser known technique- green mobile technology.
The Connection Between Your Tech and the Environment
Our phones are built from a long list of raw materials mined on the other side of the world and sadly, manufacturing processes have a long way to go before they will become completely circular and sustainable. The connection between the planet and tech production might not be immediately obvious, but using and choosing smartphones is in fact a great way to save the planet and money at the same time. All it takes is a bit of self-education, establishment of mindful tech shopping habits and asking yourself the question: "What impact is this having on the environment?" more often. We will take care of the money-saving part for you.
Here is how you can save money when starting your green tech journey:
Ask Yourself Why Before You Buy
If you get bombarded with promotion emails from your network provider when a new smartphone gets released, with better cameras, better processors and all the other bells and whistles, it can be very easy to get tempted to upgrade. However, is it going to be a good investment if the phone you currently own is perfectly fine and works as it should?
Forking out hundreds of pounds for the latest shiny gadget will set you back quite a bit, and more importantly, the hidden environmental cost is far greater than you think. The lion's share of your mobile phone's CO2 emissions is generated before you even get your hands on it. Therefore, if there is no need for a new phone, keep the one you already have. Money saved? Tick. Environmental impact cut down? Tick.
Buy Pre-Loved Phones
One of the biggest changes you can make to become an eco-friendly tech consumer is to adopt a habit of buying refurbished gadgets. Refurbished phones are great for both your wallet and the planet. These are phones which have been refurbished to quality standards and are resold on the second-hand market. Almost identical to brand new phones, refurbished handsets have the manufacturer's original specifications, design and one-year warranty. One main difference is the price, which is lower. Buying refurbished is a very cost-effective solution to replacing your phone and cutting down on the environmental cost.
Do Not Waste Your Old Phone
What happens to our phones when we are done with them? They get left in a drawer with a feeble excuse that you might use it one day- but chances are you will not. Even worse, they can end up on a landfill site releasing hazardous materials that will pollute soil and water. However, there is a smarter way to dispose of your old phone responsibly.
Compare and Recycle will help you to find a recycler that will buy your working or broken phone for the best price on the market, recovering the valuable parts or giving your phone a second or third life. You will also receive extra money to put towards your new phone while keeping your old phone in circulation. This is something our planet and your bank account will thank you for.
Eco Hacks When Buying New
We understand that everyone is different and maybe the second-hand market is not an appealing option for you. However, do not let this deter you from pursuing a sustainable tech journey. Here are a few hacks that you might not have previously considered when shopping for a brand new smartphone:
Hack #1 - Choose a More Frugal Capacity
Apple's annual environmental reports disclose the amount of carbon emissions between different models and capacities of iPhones. We have discovered that there can be a difference of 29kg of carbon emissions equivalent between 64GB and 512GB iPhone models.
We have asked Apple for a comment on lifetime emission differences and the answer we received has given a technical explanation to this trend:
“The more memory you have, the more integrated circuits you need. While some efficiencies are realised at higher memory configurations this does result in a higher carbon impact overall.” – Sam Fulton, Corporate Public Relations at Apple, Europe.
The difference is not only emissions related. Higher capacity models are also the most expensive in the product line-ups. Price differences between internal storage model variants are present in the offerings from other manufacturers.
Choosing a 64GB iPhone XS model, for example, instead of the 512GB one saves you a considerable £350. If extra storage is a genuine need for your phone, you can consider signing up for a cloud storage plan. We have done the calculations and it is friendlier for the environment and for your personal finances.
Hack #2 - Smaller Device, Fewer Resources
The bigger the better, right? Not exactly... Another cost-effective hack when upgrading to a brand new model is to choose a smaller phone.
Apple has publicly disclosed that manufacturing iPhone Plus models releases more CO2 than the regular iPhone models. When the iPhone 6 Plus came out, it had the highest ever amount of greenhouse gas emissions: 110kg of CO2-e, but an iPhone XS Max 64GB creates roughly 30% less. According to Apple, the trend is getting better, but the bigger phones appear to be less earth-friendly. Bear this in mind when choosing a new phone- go for a basic model and upgrade with less impact on the environment and your bank account.
Hack #3 - You Can DIY Your Phone
Whether your device will be refurbished or new, keep your focus on choosing a phone that will last. Slim, all-glass phones have a premium feel and look stunning, but they are not very practical. Avoid slippery finishes and bear in mind that for any phone to last longer without any damage, a nice grip is a must-have.
Look out for devices that have somewhat high repairability scores. The iFixit.com team know everything about repairs, and on their site you can find a list of mobile phones scored by repairability. Phone repair costs are jaw-dropping these days, so owning a phone that can be easily fixed without expert knowledge required is a bonus. Repairing your phone extends its useful life and is a better use of the Earth’s resources.
Every stage of the lifetime of a mobile phone requires resources- the mining of raw materials, manufacturing, distribution, making calls, charging the device every day, and finally, disposal. So it is the responsibility of each individual consumer to implement a 'less is more' lifestyle. The Earth's resources are limited, and with the constant demand for raw materials, the increased price for resources is placed on the shoulders of the consumer.
The smartphone industry has a long way to go before it becomes completely sustainable, but we are seeing improvements. If each one of us were to shift our smartphone shopping habits to becoming more earth-friendly, the planet would be a better place to live. Buying refurbished handsets, recycling your old devices and being mindful with your purchase decisions is a great way to save our planet and your money.