In today’s world, it’s almost impossible to imagine life without a cell phone. In the name of going green, I tried to surrender my cell phone for an entire year, but ultimately failed. Without a cell phone, we miss out on some of the most important facets of modern life. With no cell phone, you can’t call home to check on your sick child. You can’t dial 911 when you witness a car accident. You can’t be contacted when you’re walking to work, visiting a friend, or taking your kids to the park.
But our dependence one the Almighty Wireless Phone has devastating consequences for the environment. From manufacture to disposal, cell phones contribute to global warming while releasing toxic lead, cadmium, chlorine, aluminum, zinc and chromium compounds into our air, soil and water.
But, unless you pull a Ted Kaczynski, it’s impractical (if not impossible) to ditch the cell entirely. As long as you’re chained to your cell, it’s your responsibility to keep it as green as possible. Here are a few ways to reduce the environmental impact of your cell phone.
1. Don’t upgrade.
Modern business culture loves the concept of an “upgrade.” Every year or two, we turn around and get a new cell phone, computer, TV, music-player or camera. While this behavior can help you look trendy and stay up-to-date on advances in technology, it’s absolutely destroying our environment. It may seem like common sense, but five cell phones in five years will have five times the ecological impact one cell phone used for five years.
The solution? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it– or replace it. Use your cell phone for the maximum extent of its serviceable life. A needless upgrade to a cooler phone with tinier buttons, better photos, or cooler games isn’t worth the impact on our planet.
2. Choose a green phone.
When your current phone does wear out, seek a green alternative. A few cell phone companies are unveiling eco-friendly cell phone models made with less energy and more sustainable materials. Look for the Nokia Remade, which should be released within a few years. This product is made from recylced aluminum cans, plastic bottles and car tires. Sony Ericsson is also due to release the Greenheart phone, made from bioplastics with an energy-efficient charger,
to the U.S. market within a few years.
Few truly green phones are available to the U.S. market right now, but some widely available phones do offer better green features than others. Seek a phone with an energy-star rating and little unnecessary packaging. A phone with a long guaranteed service-life is also always a green choice, since it minimizes the need to re-buy.
3. Use a greener provider.
Your cell phone company itself has a tremendous impact on the environment, so look for a green service provider. The most ecologically responsible choice is almost certainly Credo– a company that participates in extensive real-world action to support environmental sustainability. Credo is deeply involved in green politics, including emissions reductions, lobbying, and more than $10 million in donations to environmentalist nonprofits.
But, if you’d prefer to stick with a nonpolitical cell phone company, major providers are taking steps to appeal to green consumers. Sprint earned a top 10 rating on Newsweek’s green business lists, owing to its recycling programs, e-billing and carbon offsets. Verizon, which has taken steps to reduce its energy consumption, scored lower on the list but still made the top 100. If you choose one of these providers, contact them to let them know that you support their sustainable initiatives.
While you may not be not be able to surrender your cell phone entirely, you can make a difference in the way your phone impacts our planet. Your consideration will benefit all the people, plants and animals that share a planet with you.