Mobile phones

Though currently striving for sustainability, I confess that at present I’m not at all keen to give up my mobile phone. I fry my brain on my battered little phone on a regular basis talking to friends and it is part of the daily check ‘keys phone money’ which is now habit.

I had a long hard think about how I could carry on using my phone without costing the world. The main issue for me is that you can’t seem to change contract without receiving a new phone and there is no discount for refusing one. I have no problems with my phone (except that the numbers have rubbed off and for a while the zero didn’t work, but these aren’t serious issues). So I looked long and hard and came up with some options for reducing my costs without increasing the planet’s. My possibilities turned out to be:

  • Go for a ‘sim only’ contract. Unlock my phone (some phones can be unlocked for free online) or use an old phone from my boyfriend and go to a different network like the phone co-op.
  • Recycle my old phone. Lots of charities now offer mobile phone recycling services, including Oxfam.
  • See if my network would reduce the line rental in lieu of not receiving a new phone. (‘All our deals include a phone at present madam.’ ).
  • Sell the new phone. Not a great solution but if offsets the cost of the contract a bit.
  • Get a more environmentally friendly new phone (and recycle the old one). Sony Ericsson and Nokia both provide this information on their websites. A number of phones have been identified by green peace as comparatively more eco friendly and they have an assessment of the companies in general an an environmental impact comparison specifically for mobile phones is available here.

I resolved to go for a sim only short term contract, with reduced minutes on the same network as my boyfriend and to use the free weekend calls provided with my broadband to make up the difference. I got as far as the cancellations department and then hit a problem. They weren’t going to give up any customer who paid their bills without a fight. The softly spoken Indian lady offered me ‘any phone you like’ (I didn’t laugh, I just smiled and said that I was happy with the one I had). She was persistent and eventually came back with ‘you won’t get a deal like this anywhere else’ on minutes and texts.. and she was right. Month on month, it would save me money compared to changing network.

I gave in.

The next question was ‘the phone is available in several colours, would you prefer white, pink or black?’. I am ashamed to say that after more than twenty minutes on the phone and four hours research on phone contracts, I just chose white. The hassle of PUK codes, complicated price plans and explaining things to people who English isn’t their first language (how does that impact the network’s carbon dioxide emissions I wonder?) all got too much for me. The path of least resistance lay before me and I took it. No phone? Computer says no.

One Comment on “Mobile phones”

  1. Ha ha! I recently found myself in a very similar situation so I know what you’re talking about. I just replaced my phone. There are tonnes of great deals on the market these days – people are literally giving them away at next to nothing with free gifts such as Playstation 3!

    I was shocked just how much I rely on my mobile when the time came up to renew it – but transferring numbers and images is such a pain! I know that there are websites where you can back up your content on line but I ‘m not aware of any. The mobile phone has become a neccessity, so much so that we are becoming a nomo-phobic’s according to a recent report I read somewhere. That being that people are scared of loosing their phone because they rely so heavily on it and it has become an essential communications tool.

    On the recycling front – I’m definitely 100% behind you. There are a tonne of mobile phone recycling schemes out there. I was recommended a site called mopay ( by a friend. I traded in my old phone last month and within 7 days I had received a cheque worth £25 for my old phone and I managed to donate some of its value to the WWF. I also think that my friend received a gift for recommending me too – though I’m not sure. It could be a nice way to raise more funds if I’m broke – plus it’s ethical! Happy days :o)