On February 6th 2016 my IPhone 4s decided to properly pack it in. I’m not talking about the fact that the glass was smashed or, that the battery ran out every 3 hours or, that if you used location services it would actually only last half an hour… No. That was when it was “working”. This time it properly packed it in. No Phone.
Now, as much as I’m happy to say we rely on technology far too much these days, I wasn’t about to go cold turkey on the mobile telephone. For one, my family would call the police and register me a missing person and for two, how would I have been able to write this post on the Oxford Tube (which I love btw!).
I was faced with both a moral and financial dilemma. I’m Generation Y: I want all the latest phones and gadgets but can’t afford it because Generation Baby Boom pay us Generation Zilch but; I want my latest phone and gadgets to be sustainably sourced, environmentally friendly and bloody good pieces of kit. What’s a gal to do?
During my lengthy search for the right phone I looked at both the iPhone 6s and the Samsung S6 at a Carphone Warehouse on my lunch hour. Why all The 6’s and S’s? An hour after I walked into the shop I walked out again having ruled out buying either. I don’t want another iPhone, or any phone that just encourages us to constantly buy new ones year on year, and I didn’t want a 24 month contract. Why can’t a phone last a lifetime? Why the super long expensive contracts? It was all too much! I need simplicity.
Seeing my frustration a friend told me about Fairphone: a social enterprise that aims to ethically source all the minerals used in their phones. Hallelujah! At last, a tech company investing in ethical procurement! A company that wants you, as the consumer, to know where every last element that went into making your phone came from. I wish more companies were like this!
But… I didn’t invest in a Fairphone. Why? Back to one of my earlier points: getting zilch. With the only options being buying the phone outright for the equivalent of €529.38 (at time of writing) or getting an expensive contract with the Co-op, I just couldn’t do it! Cue one of my colleagues with the golden solution: his ‘old’ phone.
Now, this phone may not fundamentally be coined as ‘sustainable’, but by choosing not to chase the consumerism dream, I’ve reduced the demand for a new product; therefore using less energy and creating less waste.
This process has made me realise that being ‘green’ doesn’t necessarily mean spending lots of money on new-fangled, organically made, responsibly sourced fancy stuff. You can’t buy your way into being more sustainable: but you can reduce your impact on the environment by re-using things, repairing things and extending the life spans of the products that you (or others) already own.
To top things off, I’ve got myself a contract with The People’s Operator: a contract provider which is committed to the Living Wage, responsible sourcing and lots of other great things. Oh, and because they don’t spend any money on advertising, 10% of my monthly bill gets donated to the charity of my choice. Win win.
So there we have it. After a month long struggle, the most sustainable solution I came up with wasn’t to buy a ‘sustainable’ phone: it was to reuse a second hand one, and get myself onto an ethical contract. Who know’s, maybe one day I’ll buy a second hand FairPhone.