Green is for St. Patrick’s Day… and Cell Phones

recycle symbolSt. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by the wearing of green… it represents shamrocks, right? Well, that brings up a long history of Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, and really…that’s not the object of this blog!

The main information we’re addressing here is a different kind of going green. “What makes a cell phone green?” It’s not the green colored plastic, so what is it? Is it about how eco-friendly the actual phone is, or is it about what apps the phone has that are ecologically based, or is it how green the manufacturing company is?

The Physical Phone

The cell phone itself is a technological wonder. It has more computing power than the first moon lander! That’s right, more computing power than the lunar lander. Unfortunately, that power, fitting in the palm of your hand, is manufactured with toxic materials and fossil fuels. Last year, Time magazine reported “Out of the world’s estimated 7 billion people, 6 billion have access to mobile phones. Only 4.5 billion have access to working toilets! Would you trade your cell phone for your flush toilet? Hmm. I’m pretty sure I would not.

6,000,000,000 is a lot of cell phones and when you consider that most cell phones are discarded before their 2nd birthday, that’s a lot of toxic waste dumped in landfills. One way to stop this filling of the land is by buying used cell phones. Here’s another way — recycle your phone!  And if your phone is still good, resist the temptation to get a new phone and get a new battery instead. Whichever path you choose, always be sure to recycle the used battery from your cell phone. See our article on Battery Recycling. 

Other than sensible recycling and buying used phones, what kind of green options can we expect to see moving forward? Here are some of the future improvements:

  • Cell phones will use more recycled materials.
  • They will not contain conflict metals.
  • They will be manufactured with less toxic material.
  • They will use alternative-powered batteries and eliminate the use of lithium.
  • They will incorporate monitors to cut off current when the phone is fully charged but still attached to its charger.

You can also take matters into your own hands and investigate cell phone manufacturing companies, where the raw materials come from, what’s used to package cell phones, and the transportation costs that goes into their distribution. An article published for Earth Day 2013 by Digital Trends provides several angles for you to examine.

This chart from Healthy Stuff last year shows the ratings for ten manufactures:

phone ratings

Cell Phone Apps

Having many useful cell phone apps is an indirect way to “be green.” As you are able to do more things on your cell phone, you are able to buy fewer electronic devices to get your needs met; for example iPods for music and e-readers for books, etc. That means less toxic waste in landfills.

You can get a detailed report about apps that support the environment from Here are a few cool app options from one of its lists:

Ecorio tracks your carbon footprint as you travel.

greenMeter tracks your vehicle’s fuel and power efficiency.

Carticipate is a social media app  to connect people who want to carpool.

PedNav provides an itinerary for walking, biking, or mass transit outings.

The Locavore app provides in-season food info for iPhones.

Of Note

It was interesting to find very little green information from 2014. As Earth Day approaches (April 22), we’ll probably see more articles. St. Patrick’s Day just doesn’t do it for eco-friendliness.







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