Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jack in the greenwash

How much of an environmental footprint does a mobile phone leave? It’s huge, apparently. Apart from the packaging and the manual that weighs in at a pound or so, the handset is made of a miscellany of plastics, there’s a liquid-crystal screen, various bits of rare and precious metals, and a rechargeable battery.

Sony-Eriksson reckon that they can apply a 15% greenwash by using recycled plastics, reducing the packaging, and supplying the C901 phone manual electronically, in the handset itself. So if you can’t figure out how to install the battery or switch it on you’re gonna be royally shafted. I had a giggle at the idea of saving the Earth’s finite resources by using a 30 milliwatt charger instead of 100mW, and then, as is not mentioned, sitting around under the air conditioning for an additional hour at three kilowatts or more waiting for the battery to charge.

Lithium-ion batteries don’t last for ever. I’ve just discovered a fading battery which results in a super short standby time and my Nokia reporting a full battery when it obviously isn’t. So it’s time to replace the battery or buy a new phone. Surely extending the effective life of an otherwise serviceable handset by a couple of years is environmentally preferable to lashing out for a whole new one? By not changing the entire phone I also neatly avoid yet another new mains charger and replacing the car charger.

How much for an appropriate Nokia battery? In “Not Coming In” Dubai it’d be an astonishing and ridiculous Dh145. £25. Twenty-five quid. As the shop assistant pointed out, for only a little more cash I might as well buy a complete new handset. And charger. And manual. And carrying case. It’s the electronic version of flogging the car ‘cos the ashtrays are full, the only obvious beneficiary being the phonemonger.

In any case, the point is moot because nobody I asked had a BL-5B. They do exist on the interwebs though. They’re offered at between £5 and £15, plus whatever shipping charges are deemed appropriate. The problem here is that the on-line suppliers I contacted couldn’t ship beyond the impenetrable English Channel (Fog in Channel: Universe cut off) and were similarly incapable of accepting a credit card payment when the registered address isn’t in the United Kingdom. Only non-expatriate Brits ever use credit cards, obviously. promised to contact me with details for taking my order by email but they didn’t. So I’ll not be buying an iPhone or BlackBerry or N98 from them, will I?

I have now found a solution to the original battery problem at £6.95 that involves Nanny Goat, Eid Al Adha and Boeing. She’s coming anyway, so the carbon footprint incurred by schlepping a phone battery doesn’t count.

In related greenwash news, I have just learned that it is impossible for my UK-based credit card company to switch to paperless statements. The company needs a UK-based mobile phone number to SMS so that I’m reminded to check the balance and cough up the moolah. International numbers ‘aren’t acceptable’, and alerting me by email is ‘impossible’. So I shall have to continue receiving the dead tree version every month, air-freighted to my PO Box at enormous environmental expense.



nzm said...

You're not alone. Yesterday we tried to buy a new battery for Jen's Nokia as we want to watch videos on it, in order to increase our massive carbon footprint when we head for Las Vegas tomorrow.

We can see them online for €10, but none of the 5 stores we tried (that sell the phone) have spare batteries. They're all more interested in selling the phones and plans. We got the "not coming in Barcelona" spiel in Català, Castellano and English.

The Yellow Box Of Doom said...

Switch to an iPhone - they might cost a bit more but they do charge of a USB cable rather than a £25 'power dongle' to quote the Salmon of Doubt.

Added to that they are very sexy and wonderful to use.

Personally I don't intend to have kids and I hate all my cousins so who do I want to save the world for. Sod the next generation - I'm maximising my carbon foot print by running a gas guzzler while running my A/C at full blast with the windows open while I'm not even there. And then when I get home I'll put on a jumper to keep warm while eating my M&S Microwave meal shipped in from the UK and made from 100% non-organic produce.

If you are going to go you might as well leave the world something to remember you by, even if that is a hole in the ozone layer and a carbon foot print so substantial archaeologists will find fossilised in sediment deposits in a million years time!!
Booo Hah ha ha ha!!

Grumpy Goat said...

@YBoD:"...100% non-organic produce."


Keefieboy said...

It's okay, MamaDuck has saved the planet for us all. How? Simples. She bought a fluorescent pink shopping bag with 'Esta Bolsa Es Verde' (This Bag Is Green) printed on it. Since I do all the shopping, you can spot me each day wandering round our barrio with it, feeling superior in between bouts of tree-hugging.


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