To get back to why I feel like my phone reminds me of the one in the picture, you need to know that the touch screen on my phone is showing signs of its age. Crazy, I didn't realize two-and-a-half was so old! The phone has lost its (warning: pun!) touch when I try to send a text message. The keyboard appears on the screen, I begin typing, and some of the letters don't show up, or one letter is mistaken for the one next to it on the keyboard. This, despite the fact that my fingers have not significantly increased in size over the past few years. Once I realized that the space bar fails to insert a space one out of every three times I touch it, I knew for sure that I was nearing the point where I would have to retire my little radiation-emitting friend.
A. The new, green cell phone
- greener materials: some use plant-based plastics, others are free of flame retardants and PVC, and many newer models contain a great number of recyclable parts than before
- reduced energy use: power-saving mode and solar panels to help with recharging, and one model even has an alarm that notifies you when the battery has fully charged, so that you can unplug it right away and avoid drawing phantom power
- eco-friendly companies: green production practices, take-back recycling programs, and supply chains free of unfair labour or minerals tainted by conflict
B. The used, traditional cell phone
- no new materials: avoiding the production and processing of toxic products for use in circuit boards, screens, batteries, and casings (and the packaging that new phones are sold in)
- reduced manufacturing- and transportation-related energy use: all of the power that went into producing the phone and moving the raw materials and parts around the globe is spread out over two users and a longer lifespan
- lower demand for new phones: if I don't buy a new phone, I'm not contributing to the never-ending demand for new products, the kind of demand that prompts companies to make more and more each year
Those are some good arguments for both sides! There are counter-arguments, too. For example, new cell phone models are not nearly green enough to be considered eco-friendly, not unless the manufacturers avoid heavy metals and petroleum-based compounds altogether. On the flip side, giving a used phone a second home doesn't do anything to encourage cell phone companies to keep developing and improving on their green models.
Your turn: what would you do in my place? What is the biggest factor for you? Does my decision even carry consequences when in China and India, over 1 billion phones are in use?
Photo of broken cell phone used under Creative Commons from Ninja M. (flickr)
Photo of rotary phone used under Creative Commons from Stephen Mitchell (Fotopedia).