Is It Environmentally Friendly to Upgrade Your Phone?

30th Sep 2019

New iPhone 11 on display in an Apple store

The mobile phone industry is humongous and brings in a lot of money to the economy. But, unfortunately, it has a detrimental effect on the environment. Many users like to have their phone for an average of two years, and then they will upgrade to the latest model. We, as consumers, often want to stay ‘on-trend’ with the latest devices, and this is why we usually agree to shorter phone contracts, so that we can get the newest model sooner. In this blog, we take a look at the effect the phone industry has on the environment and why upgrading your device regularly could be contributing to the issue.

What Is an Upgrade?

When you purchase a mobile phone, you can either buy it outright and then set up a SIM-only contract or you can pay for the phone in monthly payments. If you opt for the second option, your contract will naturally run out at a chosen time. Mobile phone contracts vary from 12 months to 48 months, but 24 months seems to be the most popular. 24 months gives you enough time to afford the phone, while also being over relatively quick so you can upgrade to a newer model. An upgrade comes at the end of the contract; your current device is now paid off, so you are given the option to keep your current phone and opt for a SIM-only plan, or you can upgrade to a different phone. As many of us like to keep up to date with trends and the newest devices, we will often decide to change to a new phone and usually the latest model.

How Does Upgrading Your Phone Affect the Environment?

While it is great to have a brand-new phone, people often hold onto their older phones even when they are no longer needed – this is where the issue starts. It is estimated that there are currently around 40 million gadgets sitting in people’s homes, no longer being used. There are materials used within phones that are of a short supply on Earth, and if people simply hold onto our old devices, they are depriving the planet of these materials. When a phone company releases a new device, they have to mine for the resources to create them. If we were to recycle our old phones, these companies would have access to the materials more efficiently and, therefore, mining will not be needed as much.

A pile of old used phones

If you aren’t a hoarder and like to clean the house of old items, then it is unlikely that you are among those keeping old phones. If you decide to chuck out your old device, you are damaging the environment too! Many smartphones contain harmful substances that can be detrimental to animals on the planet if they end up on landfill sites. However, it isn’t just the animals that are at risk; many children can end up mining minerals illegally to try and earn some money and plants can be affected too by the harmful substances.

How Can You Help the Environment?

Fear not, there are ways in which you can help the environment and still use a smartphone. You just need to be more aware of the steps you take.

Recycle Old Phones

A new EU law was introduced last year stating that phone companies have to provide their customer with a method to return old electronic devices free of charge if they are swapping them for a new one. Furthermore, there are a number of organisations that collect old phones, and in return for sending your used device, you receive cash. These two methods are simple enough, so when you go to upgrade to a newer device, think of the old one and where it will end up.

Fight the Desire to Upgrade Straight Away

We understand that given the opportunity, you would like to upgrade to the latest device, but by holding onto your current phone a little longer, you could help the environment greatly! By holding onto your phone and using it for longer than a couple of years, you can save the environment from losing more materials that are limited as it is. Should your device break, fear not, this is not the time to run out and buy a new phone. We have compiled a list of the most common phone repairs you can DIY, so you can save yourself some money and help the environment at the same time!

We hope that we have opened your eyes to the saddening effects of the mobile phone industry and what an impact it has on the environment. Do your bit and smartly use your mobile phone, so that you can help the environment! One way in which you can make your device more sustainable is to protect it from damage. Our anti-glare phone screen protector can not only shield your device from breaking but it also matte and therefore blocks out any annoying shine on your display.