Some of the loudest voices in the fight for a more sustainable future come from some of the smallest humans. Many of today’s children are leading the call worldwide for an eco-friendlier approach to things.
But what exactly is meant by the term ‘eco-friendly,’ and are some of our favorite and most commonly used items eco-friendly? What about our iPhones? Are they eco-friendly?
Are iPhones Eco Friendly?
Our iPhones, while considered a necessary device for modern living by many, are not overly eco-friendly. The manufacturing of iPhones is a complex process and can consume large amounts of non-renewable energy while producing greenhouse gas emissions that harm the environment.
What Does Eco Friendly Mean?
First off, eco-friendly is not an absolute term. It does not mean one thing exactly but rather a collection of things. Eco-Friendly can be broadly defined as ‘not harmful to the environment. There are, of course, a multitude of things, processes, and reactions that can be harmful to the environment.
Eco Friendly refers to any number of products, approaches, and solutions that are ecologically focused. Anything that is primarily clean, green, and follows the three R’s of reuse, refuses, and recycles can be considered eco-friendly. Most technological products, including computers, printers, cameras, and smartphones such as the iPhone, veer towards being non-eco-friendly.
Why Aren’t iPhones Eco Friendly?
iPhones are complicated items, the sum of many parts. Some of these parts consist of precious and rare metals; others may include animal by-products resulting from the inhumane slaughter of animals. The manufacturing of iPhones is also a complex process and can consume large amounts of non-renewable energy while producing greenhouse gas emissions that harm the environment.
Production may be done on machinery that itself is constructed from non-renewable and raw-earth materials, and that also includes further traces of animal derivatives. There’s also the way in which technological devices, and in particular iPhone, are marketed. Advertising for iPhones sells the idea that it’s aspirational to own the latest model as it’s the only one with the very latest and most advanced features.
While this may in part be true, we are also often being sold things that we may not need, allured by features that we fail to use. The idea of planned obsolescence is built into all most technological innovations, but it doesn’t serve the drive to become more eco-friendly.
The more we pursue our urge to discard the old in favor of the latest model iPhone or another device, the more we abandon our eco-conscious principles.
How Can I Make My iPhone More Eco Friendly?
You can take ownership of an iPhone more personally eco-friendly by observing the three R’s. By choosing to purchase a second-hand iPhone, you are reusing what’s already in existence. Therefore, you are not contributing to a further increase in demand for the precious metals, minerals, substances, processes, and non-renewable energy that goes into the production of every phone.
A used phone also allows you to refuse any of the packaging that is provided with a new phone, and of course, you are engaging in the recycling of an item rather than it being thrown away. Another way to make your iPhone usage more eco-friendly is to ensure that you recycle any old phones rather than place them in the rubbish, thus contributing to landfill.
Most local council areas will offer phone and phone battery recycling programs. The way in which we use your iPhone can also be seen as a contributor to its level of eco-friendliness. Charge your phone s battery only when and for how long is necessary to avoid using excessive amounts of power.
You may also consider switching off certain applications, perhaps your wi-fi connectivity, when not in use. This will lengthen the amount of time your phone will remain charged for.
Are Other Smartphones More Eco Friendly Then iPhones?
Fairphone is one company that is striving to produce an eco-friendlier product. In some regards, it is succeeding, aiming to source all materials ethically that avoids exacerbating any conflicts or abusing human rights in the process.
It strives to manufacture in a manner that doesn’t harm the environment or exploit animals in the process. The company is the first to admit that it has a long way to go before declaring its product as entirely ethical, conflict-free, eco-friendly, and free from animal by-products.
As far as statistics go, the maker of iPhones, Apple, doesn’t fair too badly. A 2017 report by Greenpeace ranked the environmental impact of 17 of electronics industry leaders and ranked Apple in second place behind Fairphone. Other manufacturers of smartphones, such as Samsung, ranked further down the list.
Can iPhones Become More Eco Friendly?
iPhones can become more friendly.. And in fact, they already are as compared to earlier versions. The iPhone 12, launched in October of last year, displays a number of improvements that make it more eco-friendly than earlier models. These include not including a wall charger or earbuds with the phone purchase.
The company believes that most people who purchase an iPhone 12 will upgrade from an earlier model and already own these items. The new 12 comes in a smaller box, made possible by excluding a charger and earbuds.
By reducing packaging size, Apple claims they are able to fit 70% more units into one shipping palette. In this way, they are reducing the amount of packaging produced as well as the transportation emissions from distribution, resulting in an overall reduction of harmful CO2 emissions.
Apple states that 98% of the rare earth elements, 99% of the tungsten, and 100 % of the tin, used in the iPhone 12 are recycled. Furthermore, the company pledges to transition to 100% renewable energy across its supply chain and declares its manufacturing plants to be zero-waste-to-landfill operational.
There are many aspects to consider when deciding whether or not to classify a product such as an iPhone as eco-friendly. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, there will be better laws requiring greater transparency on what each company is doing in their efforts to make smartphones that are minimally harmful to the planet before, during, and after production.
In the meantime, join the children’s voices in asking large and smaller companies to invest time, intelligence, and money into creating greener products that are more eco-friendly.