Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Green Phone?

The news that Nokia have developed a greener phone using recycled metals and bio-materials poses an interesting question. Can a mobile ever be green?

All electronic devices require toxic materials, such as chromium, PVC, brominated flame retardants, lead, brominated flame retardants (PBB, PBDE), mercury, cadmium, nickel and lithium. Some of these are being phased out under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), but not all. Mobile phones also contain Coltan which is mainly found in the (ironically named) Democratic Republic of Congo, a war zone. The Coltan boom has been accused of threatening mountain gorillas.

But the main environmental problem with phones is their tiny lifespan - reduced from a feasible 10 years to about a year by fashion and the relentless release of better and better models. I kept my last phone for about 4 years until the battery went on the blink and I used that as an excuse to upgrade. The current one has been with me 2 years, despite having a dodgy joystick since I got knocked off my bike a year ago. I'm resisting the call of the iPhone for a while longer. And don't be fooled by functionality - your phone might be an MP3 player, a camera, a diary etc, but that's only eco-friendly if it stops you buying a camera, an iPod separately (which I had already bought before my phone).

What to do? Leave it for as long as possible before upgrading. Or don't buy one at all!



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