Whether you use a landline or a mobile phone (or both), did you know that there are more green ethical companies out there, to switch to? Here are some of the best, and it’s pretty easy to switch. Of course what’s good is not to spend life glued with your ear to the phone anyway. But for when you use it, here are some wonderful choices. The more of us that switch, the better!
GiffGaff is a people-owned mobile phone company that offers the best plans monthly, even if you pay less (cancel anytime). With simple contracts, you can also sell your phone and buy refurbished phones, and earn payback points to exchange for money, airtime credit or charity donations. Run on the O2 network, you can keep your number (get a code in 60 seconds). The company is named after a Scottish phrase for mutual giving, which inspires their monthly plans (goodybags) that are packed with data). Or buy pay-as-you-go credit that covers things like international calls.
Honest Mobile is a new kind of company that offers 5g coverage and you can keep your number (you can also switch from your present contract, although you may have to pay a termination fee). Fed up of the mobile phone industry overcharging customers an estimated £182m a year, this company sends real-time notifications when you make a chargeable call, and also helps you to find a free version of the number (and offers free 101 numbers). Trees are planted to make this a carbon negative company and it also offers business plans, loyalty discounts and services to keep children safe on the phone.
Ecotalk was founded by the founder of Ecotricity (green electricity) who also owns England’s first vegan football club. He has teamed up with RSPB to create a phone company that helps wildlife, for each call you make. It has a great EE network coverage and some of the lowest tariffs, with money from your bill helping nature. And you can keep your number too, if wished. With 3 simple deals, you can let them now if you’re still under contract, and they’ll contact you, nearer the time to switch.
Already the company has bought 40 acres of land at Lynch Knoll (Gloucestershire) and also helped the RSPB to secure Fairburn Tips (Yorkshire) and are working with them to buy Horse Common in Hampshire’s New Forest. These areas are being rewilded back to ancient woodland – over 20,000 trees have been planted allowing animals to thrive including deer, badgers, foxes, mice, voles, kestrels, bees and other pollinators. One former coal mining facility has been restored to create grassland, woodland and lagoons. From barn owls to common toads and buzzards, your phone bill helps to restore our native woodpeckers to butterflies.
Better Options for Landlines
The Phone Box by Chris Williamson for Green Pebble
Many people still use landline phones (instead of or in addition to mobile networks). OFCOM has recently said it will block BT from closing 5000 phone boxes in areas with a poor mobile signal. A third of us still make use of BT’s 67,000 phone boxes now and then, and many people without access to other phones, rely on them to make calls. There are also 5000 disused phone boxes waiting to be adopted by local communities. It costs £1 to do, then you can use them for any purpose you like – examples are installing defibrillators for emergency use, or creating miniature galleries, to support local artists.
If you use a traditional landline, BT is likely still the best bet, and has simplified charges in recent years, due to losing profit from most people using mobile phones. You get caller blocks included, and there are three simple plans (pay-as-you-go up to unlimited calls, with an add-on option for those who make international calls). BT Home Essentials is a low-cost service for both phone and broadband for people on benefits, you’ll need your national insurance number when you call, so they can see if you’re eligible.
If you can’t read (including being blind) or can’t hold a phone book due to illness or disability, you can register for 195 to get access to free directory enquiries. Registered BT users also won’t pay the 1471 (last number called) or 1571 (call return) fees, charged to other customers. Just call the registration team for an application form. You can also get priority repair service.
How to Stop Junk Mail Telephone Calls
Sign up to the Telephone Preference Service, to stop junk marketing calls. It’s free to sign up for both landline and mobile numbers, and you can also use the site to submit complaints about unwanted marketing calls.
Stop Junk Mail has information on how to refuse the phone book, which is still delivered to millions of homes, mostly unnecessary in the age of internet. The site has contact details to opt out of both BT Phone Book and Yellow Pages. Just recycle old books with your household paper waste.
Cloud Phone Systems for Business
Cloud Phone Systems is a new kind of service for businesses with no contracts, and a single flat rate of £10 per month (includes a 5000 minute bundle to most numbers and unlimited inbound calls, more than enough to cover most needs). It uses the cloud system so works via the Internet, meaning you can get rid of most of your landlines, to simplify your bills. There are no hidden charges and free support from a Staffordshire team. You can then cancel all your phone lines (apart from the one that runs your Internet connection, often the fax line). The mobile app only works with a stable quality Internet connection, and cannot roam like a mobile phone (they recommend using the PC/Mac App, when in a fixed office location).
Where To Find Biodegradable Phone Covers
Of course, you don’t theoretically need a case for your phone. But if you want one, these ones at least do eventually break down (often only in industrial composting systems). Making phone cases from recycled plastic is popular, but if these were dropped or lost at sea (say from a boat), they would still break down into microplastics, and get ingested by marine wildlife, so are not really that helpful, unless only used inside and guaranteed to never get lost.
Blue Marigold Printed Eco Phone Case is made from bamboo and bioplastic, and will fully biodegrade in six months. The printed area does not cover the whole phone, just the back. Also in floral design.
Biodegradable Airpods Case
Uunique Biodegradable Airpods Case is made from plants, and offers shock-proof protection. In six colours, inspired by nature.
If you use your phone to play music at events, Gomi is a portable speaker made from 100 recycled plastic bags, powered by repurposed e-bike batteries. The two speakers create a wireless stereo system, to play music over a 10m range. The service includes repairs for life (and a portable charger made with reclaimed batteries.
Are There Sustainable Smartphones?
Firstly, know that these are simply more sustainable (they still have plastic parts and at present, there is no vegan option as the liquid crystal display is made with animal cholesterol, same with TVs and laptops). Oppo claims to have invented the world’s first vegan smartphone, however this appears to be due to the vegan leather case. However for people who use them, choosing one that is made with conflict-free materials and lasts longer with no unnecessary add-ons (extra chargers) and offers easy repair is the best choice. Buying refurbished phones is even better!
- Teracube has a 4-year warranty as opposed to the 2-years of most other phones. The crowdfunded Teracube 2e includes a biodegradable case, rechargeable battery and screen protector, with the charger not included. The dual rear cameras take vivid sharp images (one to capture the depth, the other to capture vibrant colours). It also takse beautiful selfies (if that’s your thing).
- Fairphone will take back your old phone, to replace with a partly-recycled and conflict-free smartphone. Fairphone 4 is the most sustainable with 5g speed, 5-year warranty and is electronic waste neutral. Includes great battery life and a premium dual camera. It has a recycled plastic back cover, and no part is glued shut – you can easily repair it yourself, using a standard screwdriver. Opt for a vegan cover.
- Shift is a small German family company that has created the world’s first modular mobile phone. You can expand the storage, the battery can be easily changes, repairs can be done yourself and your warranty is still valid, even if you disassemble it. These phones are not sold with chargers, as most households already have one at home. Made to fair working conditions with no conflict materials.
Where to Donate Your Mobile Phone
Millions of old mobile phones are languishing in drawers across England. You can sell them to many companies, or alternatively donate them to raise money to help others. Some choices are:
- Little Lives (helps London families in poverty)
- Recycle 4 Charity (choose your nominated small cause)
- Recycling for Good Causes (ditto!)