Tech isn’t the planet’s best friend. From tonnes of plastic to huge data centres and masses of waste, our insatiable desire for the latest technology poses a serious challenge.
Just one iPhone X produces around 79kg of CO2 in its lifetime, most of which is produced during manufacturing. New mobile devices need elements like gold, tungsten, and cobalt, and mining for these materials creates a massive amount of carbon. And another big component, plastic, is literally made from fossil fuels.
The problem doesn’t end once the device is in our hands. The electricity we use to charge them, as well as the data centres we use for all that social media browsing, are mostly fuelled by fossil fuels too.
And at the end of their lives, our once-precious phones, tablets and laptops end up in landfills. It’s a messy business.
So what can you do to cut your tech carbon footprint?
Use a sustainable browser
When you inevitably do need to get online, the browser you use makes a difference! Ecosia, a fave for many climate warriors, powers its servers with renewable energy and plants trees for every search. Guilt-free browsing!
Get things repaired
Don’t forget that sometimes broken tech can be fixed! There are loads of tech whizzes out there who can bring your device back to life. Some companies and insurers even offer free repairs for their devices.
Recycle or donate your old tech
When it’s finally time to get rid of your old devices, either because it’s time to upgrade or they’re not working anymore, you can still give them a new lease of life by donating or recycling them. Donate or recycle your unwanted smartphone with reboxed or seek out your local recycling facility on Google.
And of course, you can buy refurbished tech. Save money and the planet by making a choice your wallet will thank you for. This stops even more unnecessary waste from ending up in landfill. Plus, it helps eliminate the demand for mined natural materials and new plastic.
Shop with ethical brands
If you do buy new, there are certain manufacturers that are more sustainable than others. Fairphone is the leading ethical smartphone, designed to be as kind to people and planet as possible. When it comes to other tech like laptops, while there’s no super-ethical equivalent, companies like ASUS and VeryPC score better than most.
Switch to a carbon neutral network to save money and the planet.
All those megabytes and minutes can be a force for good. Honest Mobile are the first carbon neutral network in the UK. Their average member removes 140kg CO2 and plants 4 trees every year. Their loyalty program means your plan gets cheaper over time making it a great way to save the planet and a few pounds each month.
Cut your screen time
Most of us could probably do with cutting down our screen time for our own mental health – but here’s some extra motivation…The less you’re on your phone, the less frequently you need to charge it. Instant energy savings! Plus, surfing the net comes with its own carbon footprint, so you cut that in the process.
Unplug devices when you’re not using them
It’s easy to leave your chargers in after your device is already charged, but this obviously wastes energy. If you can get into the habit of unplugging as soon as you’re charged, you can easily make a wee contribution to cutting your carbon footprint each day.
Have a digital clear-out
It’s easy to think that files stored online exist in the ether. But actually, they’re sitting in servers – not so far, far away. These servers are powered by energy and require extensive cooling that guzzles even more electricity. So deleting emails and moving files from the cloud to your own local storage actually saves energy!
Try power-saving mode, and close apps when you’re not using them
The little things add up, and taking care of your device’s battery life can help it last longer! Things like closing apps when not using them, keeping your brightness down, and using power-saving mode can extend the life of your phone and help it last longer before needing a replacement. You can find power-saving mode in the settings from most manufacturers.
Sniff out the most sustainable tech
Wish there was a quick, easy way to see more sustainable products when you’re online shopping? Well now there is! The Beagle Button is a nifty little browser extension that automatically shows you more ethical versions of products as you shop. We assess brands and products against a range of environmental and ethical criteria to help you shop better. You can browse as normal and get a little nudge from us if there’s a more sustainable option! You can try out the Beagle Button here!