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Cellphones Are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly

Click Image to Enlarge.  ”Cell phones” by Chris Jordan

Photographed at a landfill in Orlando, 2004


It’s the things we are most tied to that seem to be the worst for the environment.  Cars, computers, cellphones…


Well some good things are coming out of this economic downturn.  This week was the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Cell phone companies have been hit pretty hard in the current economy, so it seems they’ve been working on lots of green and low-cost innovations to entice us…


Motorola has come out with Renew – a cellphone made from recycled plastic bottles which can itself be recycled. The phone comes in 100% recycled packaging, and includes a prepaid envelope for you to send in your old mobile phone for recycling. Additionally, Motorola is paying to offset the carbon emissions from manufacturing, distributing, recycling, and using the phone. Motorola is calling this the first carbon neutral phone.


Samsung has just revealed Blue Earth, a solar-powered phone made from recycled plastic and “non-toxic” materials. It has lots of ways to reduce energy usage in “eco mode” and has a 5-star energy efficient charger. Plus it comes with “eco walk” – built-in pedometer that calculates how much CO2 emissions you reduce by walking as opposed to driving. (I must say it’s kinda pretty, too – you know, for that extra enticement.)


Nokia has come out with several “green” applications for its phones – including ones where you can offset your CO2 emissions – and they are running a competition to make the best environmentally-oriented application.


But the highest impact change is this: 17 of the world’s largest cellphone companies have joined together and signed an agreement that a majority of new handset models will include a universal charger by January 1, 2012. That means no more having to throw or give away your charger when your phone dies!


Does that sound like a small change? Last year an estimated 1.2 billion cell phones were sold, along with between 51,000 and 82,000 tonnes of chargers. That’s a lot of garbage for our landfills, and a whole lot of wasted resources. It is estimated that “the standardization of cellphone chargers could cut energy consumption by as much as 50 per cent globally and could reduce greenhouse gases by as much as 13.6 to 21.8 million tonnes per year.” 


Pile Of Cell Phone Chargers At A Landfill

Click Image to Enlarge.  ”Cell phone chargers” by Chris Jordan

Photographed at a landfill in Atlanta, 2004


Little changes add up.  As we said earlier this week, one step at a time can add up to make a large impact!


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6 comments to Cellphones Are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly

  • Now to take the next step- get people to stop using those damn cell phones in my presence! :P

  • Some of those new ideas sound really great. The solar powered phone was particularly interesting to us. With two businesses to run and our involvement with a few different organizations, we’re never far from our phones. If we can offset some of the production and energy cost of having a phone, that would be fantastic!

    Thanks for the info!

  • The universal charger is HUGE!! I’m super excited about it. And the new greener cell phone options sound great. For now, I’m using the second hand blackberry I got from my husband’s work for $25.

  • A universal charger is a whopping huge thing!

    Very very glad to see that come around. Solar charging is a great turn as well so long as they are robust!

  • ABSOLUTELY amazing images there!!!!!!

    My community has an electronic waste collection day every few months and I save all our used cell phones, digital cameras, etc for these days. I also donate them for charity causes when requested. But the idea of the manufacturing aspect never occurred to me before–thanks for the eye opener.

    Also, we have began implementing hanging on to things longer rather than replacing them so readily; like our digital cameras, cell phones, cars.

  • clayton

    If you think cell phones are becoming environmentally friendly, read this:
    http://www.wafreepress.org/93/issue93.pdf
    Washington Free Press Article issue 93, p 10: Generation x-ray’
    Good info on the harmful (addictive!) effects of cell phone radiation. See also issue 96 on wireless network radiation effects on human genetic material. Will make you think twice about the technology. Standardized chargers pale in comparison.

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