Our phones and the environment

Posted by Andi

Mobile phones are a key tool in our daily lives. They help us get to work, check on our friends and family and so much more. But lately, scientists at the UK’s Royal Society have been looking at how our constant use of the technology is affecting the planet and some of their findings may surprise you.  We may think that our mobile phones are pretty energy efficient and cost little Co2 to run, however, the impact our phones are having on the environment is greater than we once thought. Research by German manufacturer Viessmann finds that using your mobile phone for just one hour a day for one year produces more carbon emissions than two round-trip flights between London and Glasgow — amounting to some 1.4 tons of carbon dioxide.

Using the information in these reports, we have come up with three top tips to help you cut down your mobile phone carbon emissions…

Stream in a lower quality

Scientists have found that streaming video’s in high definition requires around eight times more energy than watching in standard definition. And that is before we’ve gotten to the huge, energy-guzzling data centres needed to provide the streaming quality that is becoming the norm. So, if we want to reduce our emissions, we can start by cutting down to standard definition on our phones.

Turn off video

Building on our last tip, our next piece of advice is to turn off our video if streaming music on video-oriented services, such as YouTube. Scientists estimate that unnecessary video displaying amounts to around 5% of our mobile devices carbon emissions

Keep your phone for longer

As modern technology grows, it comes as no surprise to us to learn that the manufacturing process of a mobile phone or tablet is the most harmful stage of its life. The new iPhone 11 for example has an average carbon footprint of 72 KG of Carbon Dioxide per device during the manufacturing process. This is before we get to the damage to the environment that the procurement of some of the required materials to build these phones does.

Lower your usage

Coltan, which is used in mobile phone circuit boards and sim cards have a very high toll on the environment not only in terms of the Co2 required to mine and refine the mineral but also to wildlife. 80% of the world’s Coltan comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For Coltan to be mined, thousands of acres of rainforest and natural habitats are destroyed every year to feed our needs for this mineral. So, it is essential that we think before we buy a new phone, do we really need the new model phone when our current one works just fine? And if you must change devices, you can always investigate buying a refurbished model which will have a drastically reduced carbon footprint compared to buying a new one.

Also, it can be really helpful to return old devices or send them to a recycling company rather than just throwing them in the bin, all recycling of any kind is good for the environment. If our demand for better and faster, more energy-demanding technology is needed in our everyday life maybe now is the time to think about installing an Air Source Heat Pump in your home to help lower your carbon footprints in other areas of our daily lives.

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