Environmental Impact Of Owning A Mobile Phone

Learn the real impact of owning a mobile phone. We can help fight climate change by understanding and reducing the environmental impact of owning a mobile phone.

We may not really think about the impact use of our smatphones in our daily lives has on the environment. We just use them to keep in contact with our friends, read the news, get directions etc. But in the end, our small use really adds up when multiplied over the number of smartphone users in the world.

The most important thing is that we recognise the impact we can have and work towards reducing it to a minimum. Skip to the end for a list of six ways you can reduce the environmental impact of owning a mobile phone.

Your Potential Impact

Sadly there is an environmental impact of owning a mobile phone, if you were to talk on your mobile for an hour a day for a year; you can produce up to a tonne of CO2, that’s about the equivalent of a trip by jet from London to New York? When you realise that there 4.1 billion handsets in the world and you add the fact, that mobile phones sales are growing by 5% a year, then the figures become alarmingly significant.

Environmental Challenges

How do we prevent environmental change, how do you minimise its impact?  The urgent need would seem to be to slow it down and then reverse the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels. But with the earth warming up faster than at any time in its history, and the five hottest years on record within the last decade; then yes, Daddy what are you doing about it?

Human Challenges

Our world suffers, but also the people on it suffer bringing us our coveted goods. In Democratic Republic of the Congo, maybe half of the mines supplying essential raw materials for our mobile phones are controlled by armed groups who don’t care about the people working in them. Conditions are atrocious, with children working for less than a dollar a day to supply the heart of our devices.

Consumer Challenges

As consumers, we all want the next best thing. It just won’t do to fall behind the times and be seen dead with a mobile phone more than four years old. Heaven forbid! Manufacturers are aware of this and planned obsolescence is real.

One major manufacturer has recently paid our hefty fines for slowing down older phones. Some people were saying it was to make people want to upgrade, but there are also practical reasons like making sure the phone remains reliable. In this case, the manufacturer may not have been indulging in a clear cut case of planned obsolescence, but in reality, hardware gets older and can’t run new software without issues. Batteries for example do get older and as the age, their performance levels are reduced. A simple way around this would be to make it possible to upgrade parts of your phone or just change the battery yourself.

Let’s Make Better Choices

Lets make better choices in as many aspects of our lives that we can including the devices we use most to communicate. There are lots of factors causing climate change, not all of them are down to mobile phones and we’re not here to make you feel guilty about using your mobile. We’re here to help you make the best choices you can afford in an effort to save the environment.

Have you seen that wartime poster meme from world war one, whereby a little girl sits on her father’s knee and the son sits by his feet playing with toy soldiers.  And the by-line on the card asks ‘Daddy, what did you do in the war?’  The father looks on blankly.

In its day it was used to ‘guilt’ men into action to join up for the armed forces, so that later in life they would be proud to be able to tell their children of their efforts during one of the world’s most perilous times. Now we’re facing another war.

Well the same post card is now used in a mock comic way to comment on global warming.  The picture remains the same but this time, we see the family in a room with signs of climate change. A domino effect, raging fires and the daughter wearing a top with the slogan ‘worth saving’ and an image of penguins on it. ‘Daddy – what did YOU do to stop catastrophic climate change?’

Daddy what did you do to stop catostrophc climate change meme

Buying a green mobile phone might seem a trite answer, but it’s actually part of the greater solution.

How Green Mobiles Help

Green mobiles help reduce the impact of owning a mobile phone. Generally they use recycled materials, plus their design and production process looks to reduce their resource impact on raw minerals.  Environmentally friendly mobile phones typically don’t use poisonous chemicals such lead, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), brominates flame retardants cadmium or mercury.

Some of the biggest differences between a normal phone and a green mobile phone are in the latter’s energy saving ability.  A good eco phone will use between 50% and 80% recycled plastics in its design.  They can be charged with solar power, or kinetic energy or they just come with improved energy saving abilities.  Perhaps they even come supplied with a charger that switches itself off when the battery is charged; thus not wasting extra energy. Eco designed handsets have much smaller carbon footprints than regular phones because their environmental impact has been considered much more.

Reducing The Impact Of Owning A Mobile Phone

To reduce the environmental impact of owning a mobile phone, you might consider getting a green mobile phone. So what exactly are some of the benefits you can expect when compared to their non green cousins?

  1. Greener mobiles generally use recycled materials

Their whole styling, design and production tries to reduce their resource impact on virgin minerals.

  • Their plastics can be reused up to 6 times

This is great news because there is a mountain of plastic sitting in landfill sites and in our oceans. Some of the new order of eco phones use between 50% and 80% recycled plastics in their production.

  • Environmentally friendly mobiles typically don’t use poisonous chemicals

Harmful chemicals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), brominates flame retardants.

  • Mobile manufacturers who care about the earth care about its people too

A green mobile phone will also care about the people who make it. Manufacturers of environmentally friendly mobile phones will be more concerned about their entire supply chain and making sure everyone is paid as fairly as possible.

  • Greener mobiles save energy thanks to their software

New software design means that greener mobiles are now designed with ways of improving their energy saving abilities. That means they don’t need to be charged as much, so chargers are not left on for so long thus wasting energy.

  • Their packaging is more environmentally friendly

Packaging has always been a problem with mobiles; often the box a mobile is supplied with, is unnecessarily large designed as part of the mobiles ego. Manufacturers are looking at their grandiose use of packaging materials are making serious inroads into reducing material use or in recycled materials.

So maybe if you are asked the question in the future, ‘what did you do to stop climate change?’ You can answer happily; we changed our mobile phone for a more environmentally friendly one and with it the world changed.