Our Phones Have Carbon Footprint and This Is How You Can Reduce It

Increasingly more people are becoming environmentally aware of their choices and looking to be less wasteful. However, our ownership of smartphones doesn’t immediately emerge to prominence. Have you ever considered what makes your smartphone so smart and what happened to it on its journey to you? Similar to anything manufactured, our phones have a carbon footprint, and according to Greenpeace an estimate of between 70 and 80% of it is created before we even get to use them.

What is the carbon footprint of mobile phones?

The environmental impact of mobile phones is complicated. It includes sourcing materials, producing the device itself, shipping it to be sold, the usage and finally disposal. Every stage of this process has carbon emissions associated with it.

Manufacturing smartphones is a very energy and resource intensive affair. It involves mining for metals such as copper and lithium, which are extensively used to build smartphone components. Resource extraction is detrimental to our environment as it pollutes air and soil with chemicals destroying natural habitats.

The materials used to make mobile phones are mined from all over the world and then transported to factories where the phones are assembled. The finished phones are then shipped to be sold, often these processes of transportation use fossil fuels that harm our planet even further. The phone needs to be charged while in use, which uses up energy and once the phone is no longer needed, energy resources are necessary to deal with its disposal. As you can see, there are many areas within the lifecycle of a phone that have negative effects on the planet before it even makes it into our hands.

How Much Carbon Are We Talking?

The lifetime carbon footprint of a smartphone measures in dozens of kilograms of CO2 which varies depending on the manufacturer and the model. For example, an iPhone’s carbon footprint averages out to be 76.51kg of CO2-e. Given the fact that Apple sells over 200 million iPhones per year, that’s a lot of carbon.

What Can You Do To Reduce Your Phone’s Carbon Footprint?

It’s not easy to cut down on the environmental impact of our phones. Especially since consumers don’t have direct influence on the manufacturing of devices. One thing that you can do to reduce carbon footprint is to use your phone for as long as possible. Follow these five simple tips to reduce the carbon footprint even further by keeping your phone in circulation for longer.

5 Tips To Reduce Your Phone’s Carbon Footprint:

1) Protect your phone with an eco-friendly case and a screen protector from day one so the potential of damaging it is minimised. This way you will avoid excessive wear and tear and keep your phone in an almost-like-new condition for longer.

2) When using your phone, turn on dark mode and set the screen’s brightness to automatic. This will help to reduce the strain on the display and boost battery lifespan. Also, cleaning your charging port can prevent any dust or lint from building up which could cause charging problems. Keeping the battery level between 40-80% will actually preserve the battery’s overall health, rather than draining it to 0% and recharging it to 100% overnight.

3) Installing the latest software updates when available is necessary to keep your phone efficient and safe. This is because the latest software gets optimised for the phone and allows it to function more smoothly.

4) When it’s time for you to upgrade, instead of purchasing a brand new phone, consider buying a refurbished one. You will be saving on a considerable amount of money and valuable resources by reusing what has been already made.

5) Always recycle your used mobile phone when you plan to replace it. You can either sell it through Compare and Recycle or trade it in with your network or manufacturer. This way your old phone can be refurbished and reused again which reduces e-waste and accelerates the shift to circular economy. Moreover, you get money for it!

Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, however our lust for staying connected isn’t sustainable in its current state. That’s why rethinking how we shop for our next phone, how we use it and how it is disposed of matters. Taking care of what’s in our possession is synonymous to taking care of our planet.

Writer Bio – Lidia Martinez – ‘Avid explorer of everything sustainable and a curious writer. You can find me writing about tech at Compare and Recycle, covering new smartphone releases and e-waste issues through the lens of zero waste living.’