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Call for Change! What you’re really buying into with your phone

photo: pick up the phone! (Flickr: m for matthijs)

photo: pick up the phone! (Flickr: m for matthijs)

Buying or upgrading your mobile phone? Want one that’s cool, easy to use, speedy and has a great camera? Great! But what does this phone cost? And we’re not talking about your wallet.

Every phone has an environmental and social impact. We’ve pulled together  information about what really goes into your mobile, and what you can do to reduce your impact.

Conflict Minerals and your mobile

What is your phone made from and where does it come from? The minerals that are used to make your phone store energy and vibrate are sourced from the Congo, and have been directly linked with fuelling conflict in the country. Raise Hope for Congo explains in this clip.

What can you do to make a difference?

1. Consider the conflict ranking of the company that makes your mobile phone. Raise Hope for Congo has this ranking system. (But keep in mind: no phone is perfect).

2. Raise your voice! This Tedtalk by Mandi Mbubi outlines why and how we should put pressure on phone companies.

Here I am speaking to you… all the technology is in place for us to communicate and all the technology is in place to communicate this… we need to continue mounting pressure on phone companies to change their sourcing processes

Both Raise Hope for Congo and Jewish World Watch have campaigns you can join, and Raise Hope for Congo have guides on how you can go about helping build a conflict free campus or city.

3. Keep your eye out for conflict-free alternatives that may be available soon, for example the Fair Phone which is currently in the development stage.

4. Only upgrade your phone when you really need to.

5. Recycle your phone when you are done with it–gold is extracted and reused but  as far as we know other possible conflict minerals are not recycled. Recycle your phone with Mobile Muster.

Sustainability and your mobile

Wondering how you can source a more sustainable phone?

1. Greenpeace International has developed a Guide to Greener Electronics which gives the sustainability ranking of global electronics companies. This is the best place to start when thinking about sustainability and your next mobile.

Keep in mind that not all products from each company will have the same impact on the environment. For example, are you looking at the latest iPhone? look at how sustainable it really is.

2. Only upgrade your phone when you really need to.

3. Recycle your phone when you are done with it. You can do this with Mobile Muster.

4. Interested in what a sustainable phone might look like in the future? What are your thoughts on Phone Blocks?

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