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How to stay eco-friendly with your mobile phone

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Mobile networks and smartphone manufacturers have fallen into an annual cycle of handset releases driven by aggressive marketing and they would really like it if you bought a new handset every year or two.

However, not only is this expensive, it has a major environmental impact. A recent report highlighted the effects of manufacturing everyday products on our planet and resources, finding that it took nearly 13 tons of water and 18m2 of land to produce each smartphone. That’s a lot of waste for something many people only use for a year.

But thankfully there are ways to be a little more eco-friendly and still enjoy the convenience and power of a modern smartphone.

Eco-friendly mobiles

While eco friendliness is not generally something which gets top billing on the features list there are some handsets out there with green credentials. Here are a few options.

Fairphone and Fairphone 2

This unique smartphone firm is building technology designed to be eco-friendly from the ground up. It’s independently financed, employees closely monitored factories using material from conflict-free regions and Fairphone considers the whole lifecycle of a product including recycling. Perhaps most groundbreaking is the focus on making a smartphone which is made to last, with everything from frames to cameras to replacement displays available for users to carry out their own repairs.

Microsoft Lumia

The Microsoft Lumia range of smartphones are extensive and vary in their eco-friendliness but most of the recent models have some green features including minimal printed guides and packaging, free from nickel, PVC or BVRs and 100% recoverable materials. You can view the eco profiles for Microsoft products at their corporate citizenship site.

Apple iPhone 6 and 6S

Yes, Apple has poor track record, particularly when it comes to worker safety in their factories and the lifespan of their smartphones, but recent iPhones do make use of recycled plastic, have recyclable parts and are free from harmful chemicals such as arsenic, PVC and beryllium. iPhones are extremely popular around the world so it’s good to know Apple is making some improvements here, even if they’re not going to be the top choice for anyone wanting to minimise the environmental impact.

Top 5 ways to be a more eco-friendly smartphone user

There isn’t a huge choice of eco phones out there, with only the Fairphone making it a key selling point, but you don’t necessarily need to hunt down a green phone to make a difference. There are things we can all do to help.

1) Go SIM only

Modern smartphones are extremely powerful and new models rarely add anything truly revolutionary or essential. Rather than upgrading your smartphone every year or two with a fresh contract, change to a SIM only deal and continue to use your current smartphone until it really needs replacing. Not only will you skip an unnecessary upgrade but you could save money on the monthly bill too so make sure to compare SIM only deals before buying.

2) Get a refurb or second hand phone

Most networks sell refurbed smartphones, so pick one of these up and save some money. They’re often just as good as buying new. You could also go to the second hand market. While you won’t get the consumer protections available with an official refurb the likes of eBay and Amazon Marketplace are brimming with bargains on perfectly good mobiles.

3) Repair broken smartphones

If your smartphone is damaged or develops a fault, explore the options for repair rather than binning it. While not always possible there are certain components – such as cracked displays or failing batteries – which can be replaced for less than a new handset.

4) Get a phone with a removable battery

Many smartphones now have batteries which are sealed inside the casing, making replacement of a weak battery difficult or expensive. When purchasing a new phone look out for models with accessible battery compartments. This will allow you to easily replace the battery when it reaches the end of its life, extending the longevity of the phone (plus you can carry a spare for emergencies).

5) Recycle responsibly

When the time comes to upgrade your smartphone you can send it to a company or charity to be recycled. Some will even pay you for it. But when you do so check their policies to ensure they are environmentally friendly. For instance The Phone Recycle Bank is BSI registered and will attempt to refurb phones, or otherwise break them down for spare parts and recycle waste in line with EU regulations. Or you can send them to Friends of the Earth, who will receive a donation for each mobile received.

Environment

5 Eco-friendly Appliance Maintenance Tips

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Eco-friendly Appliance
Shutterstock Photos - By Punyhong | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/punyhong

Modern day society is becoming ever more conscious about the effects of human consumption on the environment & the planet.

As a collective, more people are considering taking action to positively counteract their environmental footprint. This is accomplished by cutting down on water consumption, recycling and switching from plastic to more sustainable materials. Although most people forget about the additional things that can be done at home to improve your individual eco footprint.

Appliances, for example, can be overlooked when it comes to helping the environment, despite the fact they are items which are found in every household, and if they are not maintained effectively they can be detrimental to the environment. The longer an appliance is used, the less of an impact it has on the environment, so it is essential for you to keep them well maintained.

If you’re considering becoming more eco-conscious, here are 5 handy appliance maintenance tips to help you.

Don’t Forget to Disconnect From Power First

General maintenance of all your appliances start with disconnecting them from power; microwaves, washing machines and ovens all use residual energy when plugged in, so it’s essential to unplug them.

Disconnecting the plugs can help keep them in their best condition, as it ensures no electrical current is running through them whilst they are supposed to be out of use. Additionally, this can help you save on energy bills. By doing this you are minimising your energy footprint.

Here we break down 4 tips to keep the most popular household appliances maintained.

Eco-Friendly Oven Maintenance

Ovens generally require very little maintenance, although it is essential to stay on top of cleaning.

A simple task to make sure you don’t have any issues in the future is to check the oven door has a tight seal. To do this ensure the oven is cold, open the oven door and use your hands to locate the rubber seal. You can now feel for any tears or breaks. If any have occurred simply replace the seal. More oven tips can be read here.

Eco-Friendly Refrigerator Maintenance

When keeping a fridge in good condition, don’t forget about exterior maintenance. Refrigerator coils, although an external fixture, can cause damage when overlooked.

Refrigerator coils can be found either at the front or rear of a fridge (check you user manual if you are unsure of its location). These tend to accumulate various sources of dust and dirt over a substantial time-period, which clog refrigerator coils, causing the refrigerator to have to work twice as hard to stay cool. An easy tip to solve this is to periodically use a vacuum to get rid of any loose dirt.

Eco-Friendly Washing Machine Maintenance

Most people tend to remember the basics tasks for maintaining a washing machine, such as not to overload the machine, not to slam the door and to ensure the washing machine is on a solid and level platform.

In addition, it is necessary to routinely do a maintenance wash for your washing machine. This means running an empty wash on the highest temperature setting and letting it complete a full wash to erase any build up and residue. You should repeat this task at least once a month.

Try to schedule this task around your bulk wash load times to save on water consumption.

This will help keep your washing machine in peak working condition.

Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Maintenance Tips

Dishwasher maintenance can be simple if implemented after every wash cycle.

To keep your best dishwasher hygiene standards, scrape away excess food whilst making sure to keep the filter at the bottom of the cavity empty between cycles. This simple task can be highly effective at preventing food build up from occurring in your dishwasher.

If you need additional tips or tasks you, can reference your manufacturer’s guidebook to check for a full breakdown. You can also head to Service Force’s extensive database of repair and maintenance manuals – including extensive troubleshooting guides for all of the critical appliance maintenance procedures.

In conclusion, you can save both money and energy by keeping your appliances in peak condition. The steps outlined in this guide will help us all preserve the environment and reduce industrial waste from discarded appliances.

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Environment

Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living

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Eco-Living
Shutterstock Photos - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.

However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.

They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.

What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??

Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded. 

Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.

In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.

Mottainai

Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.

Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.

How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?

Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.

For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.

Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.

Their influence in the UK

The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.

Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.

In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.

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