Sustainable Smartphones: How to Reduce Your Phone’s Impact on the Planet

Lead image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Mobile phone companies make a profit by selling brand new models on a regular basis. A shiny new phone with better camera megapixels, better display and processors make for a very tempting proposition after all.

But what we may not know is that upgrading to new smartphones each year can be bad for the environment. E-waste, or electronic waste is quickly becoming a concern as more and more gadgets and electronics are dumped into landfills without a second thought.

As consumers, it’s our responsibility to have our old tech recycled, reused or properly harvested for parts. Stewart McGrenary of, which has been recycling phones, tablets and other tech for more than a decade, shares his top tips on enjoying the newest phone while being conscious of your impact on the planet…

Choose Refurbished Phones

Refurbished is often attached to negative stigma, but now we know that it’s really a cheaper alternative that’s just as good as a brand-new unit.

The term ‘renewed’ means that the item has been repaired or owned before. Manufacturers bring it in and do the necessary steps to ensure the gadget works just like their new counterparts. It’s important to know that before the refurbished tech is put up on the shelf for sale it undergoes a comprehensive quality check that meets consumer standards.

So, the next time you’re considering upgrading to the latest model, see if there are refurbished versions that you can buy instead. You won’t have to pay as much and get to reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.

Opt For Green Smartphones

Not all smartphones are one-and-done electronics, i.e., when a part breaks then it’s good as gone. Some can be easily repaired in a shop, while others allow for easy swapping of parts.

Choose mobiles that have as few harmful or toxic elements as possible. Brands that promote green movement are better as you’ll know that they’re more responsible in the manufacturing and disposal of old models. The Good Shopping Guide lists the most and least ethical networks and phones here.

A three-year contract with your preferred mobile carrier is best as it extends your smartphone’s life and saves you money in the process.

After upgrading, don’t just throw your old phone in the bin. You could sell it on eBay, Amazon, or directly to a phone/tablet recycler for convenience.

how To Extend Your Smartphone’s Lifespan

In today’s world of incremental upgrades, it’s safe to assume that the phone you’re using now can last for two, three or even five years before you need a new model. By doing this, you’re putting less tech in landfills and reducing your individual impact to the environment by 40%.

Physical Protection: Don’t expose your investment to the elements. Cover it up with a case for maximum protection against knocks, bumps and the occasional drop on the pavement, and add a screen protector to prevent screen scratches, which can lead to cracks.

Update Software Regularly: Manufacturer-released updates ensure your mobile phone is protected from malware, security breaches and risks when you go online. To make sure your up to date go to Settings > Phone > Update Software > Check for Updates.

Stop Burn-In Damage; Prevent your phone’s display from burn-ins by not maxing out the brightness, opting for a dark theme and setting a screen timeout. Keep in mind that OLED displays are much more vulnerable than LCDs, so if you have one then it’s best to follow our advice.

Stop Charging Overnight: This is one of the most common reasons why gadgets are dying out earlier than expected. As well as the potential to overheat, there’s the fact that a lithium-ion battery is best kept 50-80% charged, so charging in short bursts throughout the day is probably the best way to preserve your battery life. While it’s true that manufacturers are putting in features such as trickle charging, having them go on extended time under this mode will be sure to degrade the battery’s life.

Have A Mobile Phone Day Off: A great way to extend your smartphone’s life is to unplug on certain days. Aside from emergencies and daily necessities, stop looking at your phone’s screen or using any apps. Carbon emission via data centers depend on how much users are in a particular app. A detox may be just what you need to start appreciating real life again.

Have Your Smartphone Repaired

It may be tempting to let a damaged, cracked screen or non-working phone stay dead and go out to buy a new model.

You could reason that having your mobile repaired is time-consuming, not to mention inconvenient, but think about what upgrading can do to the environment. Sending your unit in for repairs should only cost you a few pounds, and sometimes you won’t even need a loaner phone. Your gadget’s lifespan is extended and you save one more item from going to the landfill.

Going out of your way to become sustainable may be difficult at first, but it will become second nature after some time. You can extend this practice not just towards smartphones, but to other electronic items, including your smart TV, laptop and appliances as well. You get to enjoy your device to the fullest and come away with a sense of pride knowing that you’re doing your share towards a better future.


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