We Need To Talk About Tech

We might be saving money and carbon by travelling less since the pandemic, but have you ever thought about the impact of your tech?

Our devices all have a carbon footprint – and that’s before we talk about the wider social, economic and environmental impacts associated with manufacturing, transport and usage!

It might surprise you to know that the average lifespan for a smartphone is just 1-2 years – a shockingly short amount of time for something so resource and labour intensive to create!

So what can we do?

1. Switch your search engine

Did you know there’s a search engine that plants trees every-time you search?

Ecosia uses the ad revenue from your searches to plant trees where they are most needed – they’re totally privacy-friendly, Co2 negative, and utterly transparent about where the money goes! Every search request you send removes 1kg of Co2 from the atmosphere – so definitely check out installing this as your default browser.

2. Be more Zen….with your broadband!

Have you heard of Zen Internet? When you move into your next student property, give them a look before you default straight to BT or Virgin! Zen achieved Co2 negative status in February 2020, with their continuing goal to reduce their energy use by a further 15%! More about Zen and their environmental goals can be found on their website, here: https://www.zen.co.uk/inside-zen/our-responsibility

3. Consider Fairphone

Bas van Abel, founder of the Dutch brand ‘Fairphone’ says; ‘A phone embodies an extraordinary paradox: it facilitates our potential connection with pretty much everybody, yet we have zero connection with its manufacture.’ Do you know where your phone comes from? Who made it? Where the resources came from?

The resource issue with phones comes from the need for rare earth materials such as gold, silver, platinum, palladium, yttrium, or lithium – and the consequential labour that comes from those mining to attain these. It can be a difficult thing to address, but prioritising the rights of the workers who make your devices can lead to a positive chain effect as more and more companies join fair workers agreements! Instead of following what’s popular, look behind the scenes!

Brands such as Fairphone seek to take important steps into making phone purchasing a more ethical practice – self-proclaimed to break our current cycle of ‘buy-use-dispose’ by allowing users to switch out and buy replacement individual parts when an old part is failing. This combats top brands such as Apple who have gone so far as to sue (!) small companies that seek to repair Apple-branded devices without going through Apple first.

4. Do a digital declutter

The storing of our digital data will account for 14% of global emissions by 2040 (according to Georgina Wilson-Powell’s ‘Is It Really Green?’). Combat this by:

  • Deleting documents you no longer need – clear out your digital closet!
  • Checking your settings – try to print double-sided and in black and white
  • Checking out what browser add-ons you can install that have positive effects! These could include ‘tab for a cause’, ‘treeclicks’, and ‘earth mode’!
  • Thinking before you send that ‘thank you’ email
  • Giving yourself a break – less time scrolling the social feeds will be good for your wellbeing but also help the planet too 

5. Downsize the device list

Finally – don’t forget the obvious; one of the best ways to reduce your tech impact is simply to have less tech! Do you really need the desktop, laptop, tablet AND smartphone? And do they all really need to be the newest model?

Keep your devices for as long as you can and if you really have to upgrade, recycle responsibly – gift phones to charity, or donate laptops to support disadvantaged families. Don’t forget you can also buy refurbishes and second-hand in the first place to reduce demand for new tech.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

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