It’s really important these days for everybody to do their part in making their carbon footprint smaller. Essentially this means that we have to look for ways to live more sustainably. Part of that involves making better choices when it comes to purchases. One of the problems with trying to live sustainably in the modern world is our dependence on devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Unfortunately, many smartphones, tablets, and computers are not manufactured in a very sustainable way. The chips they use require mining and other high-impact processes. There is also the global supply chain which uses a lot of fossil fuels at the moment. Luckily, there are a lot of companies that are taking sustainability seriously and trying to make buying these devices less impactful on the environment.
When you are shopping, you can compare smartphones and go with the companies that are doing their part to make sure that you can live a modern life and enjoy your devices while also being sustainable. In this article, we will go over several ways that you can balance both.
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1 – Work with what you have
There are many instances when it may seem like you need a new device when the reality is that you don’t. Upgrading your device may just be the best thing you can do from an environmental standpoint. Unfortunately, in a consumer-driven culture, many things seem disposable that really don’t need to be.
Smartphones, computers, and tablets are good examples. Very often, you can bring your device to a repair shop to fix whatever the problem is. You may be made to feel that your only option is replacement when it could just be a minor repair that’s needed.
Of course, there is a thrill involved with buying a new piece of technology that goes unfulfilled when you have your current device repaired. This is due to the culture of shopping for the sake of it and to satisfy a craving for a burst of happiness. That is bad for the environment and should be curtailed.
There are also ways to upgrade your old device so that it works better even if you don’t have any specific repairs needed since it does still actually work. It could be a new motherboard or chip that can help bring it up to the latest generation without needing to buy new. Some smartphone manufacturers tend to issue new versions of a phone with only minor upgrades being the difference between them and the previous version. In this case, there is little to gain from buying a new device for a simple upgrade.
There are times when an old device can’t simply be repaired or upgraded, for instance. At a certain point, the software cannot be updated and supported since the updates can’t work with the old hardware. This is when it makes perfect sense to buy a new one if your old one is not going to be able to function in the new ecosystem of the brand.
2 – Buy a refurbished one
Let’s suppose that you were happy with your old device and it was working well for you. It was new enough that the software updates were still able to give you what you needed to use it properly. The only problem is that you lost it or it got broken in such a way that it is not repairable.
The temptation is to buy a brand new device and get the latest version with all the bells and whistles. Try to resist that temptation until you have absolutely no choice in the matter. Buying a refurbished phone will get you the same version of what you had or possibly a new version that you don’t need to buy new.
Since many people trade in their old device when they buy a new one, it is entirely possible to buy a second-hand and refurbished device that is as good as new. You may even get more bells and whistles than your old device had in the bargain.
The idea is that if more people were buying devices that were refurbished or second-hand that there would be fewer environmental issues as there would be less pressure to create new ones. This will never eliminate the need for manufacturing of new devices, but fewer that need to be made can have a huge impact on the environment in a good way.
3 – Recycle your old phone
There are a lot of parts and materials in your old phone or device that can be repurposed or made into a new part that new phones require. This helps the environment since it reduces the need to mine for some of the materials that are necessary to power your device.
You can take the phone to a recycling center when you can no longer use it or will be buying something new so that it can be taken apart and used for new devices later on.
Even aside from recycling, there is the possibility to pass down the phone you are no longer using to somebody else who can benefit from it. This also ensures that it doesn’t end up in a landfill. There are charities that will gladly accept your old device so they can refurbish it and give it to somebody in need who can’t afford to buy one themselves.
4 – Find a green brand
There are many companies out there these days that will try to offset the fossil fuels that they are using to manufacture and ship their products. For instance, some are planting trees for every device they sell that will help to remove the amount of carbon dioxide that was emitted over the lifetime of the tree.
Others will use recycled materials in the construction of the devices which has a lower impact on the environment. It pays to look for these brands that will help you make the ethical choice when you are buying a new device.