My smartphone has had a good life. I got this phone from a friend when they upgraded. They had already had it for 2 years and now I’ve had it for nearly 2 years. Its a shame to have to replace it as there isn’t a scratch on it and a replaced battery means it doesn’t need charging all the time. Recently though it is having more and more problems with software, lots of new apps are not supported and some won’t even download.
The largest environmental impact is in extracting and refining the precious metals that go into making it, both in terms of energy required and destruction of habitats. If you are interested in more details, Friends of the Earth has an interesting piece on tin mining (2012). This means that the longer we continue to use the same hardware the better. Fairphone is a phone company that understands this and is creating modular repairable handsets.
The lowest impact option for me is to try and upgrade the software but I’m not really into programming and I have a feeling that it is all going to go wrong. The priority is to back up everything I can and make sure I keep my content. If the software upgrade doesn’t work my next plan is to get a slightly newer second hand phone again.
Having read through the low cost living blogs I am pleased that I am on a £5 per month phone contract which suits my phone and data needs perfectly. I have very simple smart phone needs so I don’t need the latest version. Being able to blog while on the move will definitely be a bonus but does that convenience justify the impact?
If you are interested in the impacts of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) there is a fun site where you can calculate your personal WEEE impact. It is called WEEE Man. The page on “What can I do” has tips for reducing your impact.