Yahoo Life is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. We may receive compensation or a share from purchases made via links in connection with this content. Pricing and availability are subject to change.
Here’s a blast from the past: remember when no one owned cell phones and the only way to communicate was via landline? It seems like a lifetime ago (spoiler alert: it was less than 25 years ago), and nowadays it’s hard to imagine life without search engines, GPS, apps for all your needs and the phone numbers of everyone you know neatly stored in a pocket-sized computer.
Smartphones are so ubiquitous, in fact, that it’s easy to forget the impact they’re having on the planet. If you Googled those statistics on your iPhone or Android right now, you’d see the indispensable device in the palm of your hand is actually responsible for 154 pounds of carbon emissions — more than desktop computers, laptops and monitors, in fact.
Over the course of your lifetime as the owner of multiple smartphones, you’ll be accountable for dumping almost 3,550 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And then there are the 416,000 cell phones that Americans simply throw in the trash each year.
Many cell phone manufacturers are already doing what they can to curb the issue of e-waste and the carbon footprints of smartphones, but in the meantime there’s much you can do to be a more ethical consumer and cell phone user. Get smart with these five eco-conscious smartphone habits.
1. Use cell phone cases made of sustainable and recycled materials.
Here’s a sobering statistic: 1.5 billion cell phone cases are thrown away each year — each year! — and end up sitting in a landfill for 1,000 years before they break down. That’s more than 37,000 tons of plastic waste accumulating — and that’s not counting other plastic electronics accessories.
Verizon just launched a new line of cell phone cases, portable power banks and earbuds cases that are smart, eco-friendly alternatives to traditional cell phone accessories made of virgin plastic — they’re each made in part with plant-based materials, recycled plastics or are 100 percent compostable.
Your purchase may seem like a drop in the bucket, but it contributes to the goal of creating greater demand for products made of recycled plastics and renewable materials. “Currently, people buy more virgin plastics, so there’s [little] use for secondary recycled materials,” says Julie Anderson, CEO of Plastic Oceans International, to Yahoo Life. “But if people buy more recycled products, they’ll increase that demand.”
The Verizon Slim Sustainable Case for iPhone 12/iPhone 12 Pro ($30, was $40) and the Incipio Organicore Case for iPhone 11 ($30, was $40) are two ethical, affordable cell phone cases for Apple users — and each is 25 percent off right now. They’re made in part with recycled plastics and plant-based materials, respectively, and are designed to resist scratches and impact. The Organicore line is even compostable!
Android user? Verizon makes the Case-Mate Tough Clear Plus Case for Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G ($30, was $40) and the Incipio Organicore Case for Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G ($30, was $40) two comparable cases that are similar in terms of appearance, performance and construction.
Check out the entire array of Verizon Eco-Friendly Cell Phone Accessories here, and give your phone and stylish and sustainable spring makeover.
Shop it: Verizon Eco-Friendly Cell Phone Cases, 25 percent off, verizon.com
2. Buy a high-speed charger made of recycled materials
Portable chargers are a must when you’re using your smartphone all day — and the faster your power bank charges your phone, the less time you’ll spend sucking up power through a traditional wall outlet. Verizon makes several high-speed, energy-efficient portable chargers that knock our socks off, and right now they’re 25 percent off. Best of all, their construction is eco-friendly — they’re made in part with recycled plastics, plant-based materials or are 100 percent compostable. Switching to chargers made of recycled and sustainable materials will help curb our plastic waste problem in the long run, which Anderson estimates as 400 million tons per year.
The Nimble Eco-Friendly CHAMP 10k PD Portable Charger ($37.50, was $50) has dual ports so it can charge two Android or Apple phones simultaneously — and it’s so fast, it’ll juice up your devices to 80 percent in just 30 minutes. This tiny, mighty wonder — it’s just 6.4 ounces and three inches across — can be easily carried around wherever you go. Made with REPLAY 72.5% post-consumer plastic, it is eco-friendly while still providing a high-quality charging experience.
If you want something even more powerful — yet just as eco-friendly — pick up the quick-charging Nimble Eco-Friendly CHAMP Pro 60W USB-C Portable Charger ($75, was $100), which holds up to eight full phone charges or three full tablet charges!
Shop it: Verizon Eco-Friendly Portable Phone Chargers, 25 percent off, verizon.com
3. Getting a new phone? Recycle your existing one.
When you upgrade your cell phone, try to take advantage of the company’s trade-in program or pursue other ways to recycle your cell phone — never just trash it. More than 152 million phones are already thrown away each year. Not only do smartphones clog landfills, but they’re actually pretty valuable for their components. For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered, according to Earth911.
All major service providers and electronics retailers have programs that let you drop off cell phones, chargers, cables and accessories for no fee — and many can help you donate your old phone to those in need, if you choose to.
4. Buy your phone refurbished instead of new.
Refurbished phones are certified pre-owned models that have been reset back to factory settings, inspected vigorously and restored with many of the same replacement parts that brand new models would benefit from — that includes everything from their batteries to their outer casings. But because they were owned before, they sell for less than a brand new phone.
Ever wonder what happens to your old phone when you trade it in? It likely becomes a refurbished or certified pre-owned phone for a new customer, so consider supporting the life cycle of recycled phones. Often, you can buy pre-owned phones directly from your service provider or the phone’s manufacturer.
5. Use your phone less often.
This one, while simple, certainly isn’t easy. According to a recent study, 36 percent of people check their phones constantly and 44 percent of people said they couldn’t go a day without their phones. While smartphones are a necessity for most people, being glued to them isn’t. So one way to make your phone better for the environment is to clean up your phone usage habits — in the long run, it’s also better for your health to have less screen time.
Remember those 3,550 pounds of carbon dioxide you’ll be contributing to the environment over the course of your lifetime via cell phone usage? The power to lower that number is in your hands.
Read more from Yahoo Life:
Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Life's newsletter.