So here at AltCon, we’re pretty enthusiastic proponents of eco-friendly swag for your mobile device; you can see that here, and here, and here. After all, our phones are hugely significant parts of our lives. They connect us to our friends, our families, our work, our play; I rarely go a day without mine. But have you ever stopped to consider how significant of an environmental impact that handheld lifeline in your pocket has?
Most of us are probably aware that our cell phones use a huge amount of energy. Does anybody else consider their charger an essential accessory to grab before walking out the door, like keys or a wallet? With more than 3 billion people using cell phones globally, the energy expenditure is colossal. A single cell phone uses over over 1000 kWh of energy annually. To put that in perspective, 1kWh is enough to power your refrigerator for almost an entire day; we’re strutting around with roughly 3 refrigerators worth of energy in our pockets on the daily! The energy expenditure from a single cell phone corresponds with the emission of over 100 kilograms of CO2 annually.
The average U.S. consumer uses their phone for about a year before replacing it; this is only a fifth of the actual lifespan of these devices. In the fashion of true capitalist ennui, you can find us panting for the iPhone 5 before while our 4s is still fresh out of the box! Every second 4 discarded and unrecycled cell phones make their way to a landfill, where they leach dangerous chemicals such as lead, beryllium, nickel, and mercury into the soil and water. Furthermore, these trashed mobiles each contain approximately $1 worth of precious metals. “The Secret Life of Cell Phones” is a great short video by INFORM, Inc. that discusses this.
In this day and age, no one expects you to abandon your cell phone. So what can we do to stay green AND mobile? Understanding the impact our phones have is the first step, and from there being a responsible consumer is just a matter of making conscious choices. Use energy saving settings and charge less frequently. Upgrade time? Gift an old phone to a younger sibling, or drop it off at your carrier’s retail location for recycling. And of course, feel free to indulge in some eco-mobile swag. ;)