Pretty much everyone over a certain age owns a cell phone. It’s not only a very handy device but has also become a part of our culture. However, there are some elements of cell phone manufacturing and usage that leave something to be desired. We’re in need of a population that’s eco-conscious in everything they do, including their cell phone usage.
Most people don’t think about the way their mobile phone use can impact the environment. Telecommunication companies participate in greenhouse gas emissions, wasteful water use, and improper waste and disposal of materials. These problems account for 85 percent of the total carbon footprint of telecommunication organizations.
There’s also the problem of electronic waste, or e-waste. Every day, electronic products are thrown away without a thought to proper recycling or reuse programs. A United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report shows that there’s approximately 20-50 million tons of e-waste generated each year around the world, and it’s estimated that this problem is growing by about 40 million tons every year.
Eco-conscious individuals will recognize the way that their attraction to electronic products affects the environment. For most people, going without a phone is not an option, but there are some things you can do to limit your footprint.
1. Buy Low-Energy Chargers
According to a report from Battery University, there are more than one billion chargers connected to the grid at a time. You can do your part by purchasing a charger that requires less energy.
Not all phone chargers are created equally. Some use more electricity than others, even though a lower energy-use charger will do the trick. In order to save some money on your electricity bill and reduce your emissions, look for chargers that take 30mW of energy or less. These will have a five-star energy rating on them.
2. Revert to a Rugged Flip Phone
Do you remember the days of flip phones? You could go for 3 days without charging your cell phone, and you spent a lot less time on the device. Less also went into the manufacturing and development processes since the phones were less complex.
Although you won’t be able to play candy crush during your breaks from work anymore, you will save a lot of energy and time by converting to a flip phone. You’ll also find that by disconnecting from your small mobile device, you’ll be more aware of the world around you.
3. Buy Used Instead of New Phones
People buy new phones like they buy shoes. Once a better, more trendy version comes out, they need it. This leads to generations of waste and disregard for the time, energy, and resources put into billions of devices around the world.
There’s no need to discard your old phone for the newest model when it comes out. Use your phone for as long as you possibly can, and then purchase an older model on eBay to help minimize waste.
4. Recycle Phones When They Die
Every day, Americans dispose of more than 350,000 mobile phones. Unfortunately, only 12 percent are recycled. When you buy a used phone to replace your dead model, locate a cell phone recycling facility near you.
There are many places that accept mobile phones for recycling. You might find an EcoATM kiosk in your mall that collects old phones and gives you money for them. You could also take them to your carrier for a small stipend that can be used towards a new device. Best Buy and your local library might also run phone recycling programs.
5. Support Eco-Friendly Companies
Although all companies must abide by certain eco-friendly laws, most will do the bare minimum to avoid fines. They don’t care as much about the environment as they do about making a profit.
When possible, avoid making purchases from these organizations and instead focus on more eco-conscious manufacturers. BlackBerry, Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and Nokia phones tend to be more eco-friendly when designing their mobile devices.
6. Use It Less Often
According to Mike Berners-Lee of The Guardian, your mobile carbon footprint depends on how often you use your phone. Using some complicated figures, he estimates that the average phone emits 94 kg of carbon dioxide over its lifetime, or about 47 kg per year.
This doesn’t seem like a lot on the surface, but when you consider the fact that you’ll own dozens of cell phones in your lifetime, it can add up. Using your phone less often can extend its life significantly, and you’ll gain some mental and physical health benefits along the way.
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.