Nearly all of us have a telephone of some kind. If you don’t really use your landline much, it may be worth considering getting rid of it, though some people prefer to have the security of a landline too. If you can’t read or hold a phone book (due to impairment or disability), BT offers free 195 directory enquiries, and registered customers also don’t pay for 1471 or 1571 (call return) fee (call for an application form). Also see the post on how to switch to a more sustainable smartphone.
ecotalk is a mobile operator network, where you can switch (keeping your number) and profits are used to buy up land for rewilding projects across England. Run on EE, there are simple affordable tariffs and the company is also run on green energy.
Honest Mobile rewards loyalty, with bills reducing until they are 30% of your bill. You are also told if you make a chargeable call, so you don’t get a nasty surprise on your bill. The company also plants trees on your behalf and you can view how much carbon you’ve saved on your phone. You can keep your current number.
Giffgaff is a community-owned phone company, which always makes sure you’re on the right deal and offers a good service powered by O2. Choose from pay-as-you-go, monthly rolling or contracts, and you can also buy a refurbished phone and sell your old phone to help pay towards it.
phones helping local communities
GoodCall is a mobile network for charities and non-profits. This social enterprise aims to reduce the digital inequality and offer mobile phones and line rental to save non-profits an average of 40%.
Recycling for Good Causes lets you donate unwanted mobile phones (don’t bin them, they leak toxins) to any small local cause. Just pop in an A5 envelope (with unwanted jewellery, coins, stamps) and write the name of your chosen cause on the downloadable label. Order a free sack for large collections, free when it meets required weight.
BT’s Adopt a Kiosk lets communities adopt a disused phone box for just £1 which can then be used to offer something of value – for a place to store a defibrillator to a food bank or book exchange. Just email to say which kiosk you would like to adopt and they’ll review the request. If accepted, they wll disconnect the phone and leave you in charge!
switch to a (more) sustainable smartphone
Of course, we can’t really title this post ‘switch to a sustainable smartphone’ because like cars, you can’t really have a ‘green smartphone’, just one that’s a bit greener! There’s no guarantee really that crystal liquid displays are vegan, but you can choose brands that are made from recycled plastic and are repairable (not glued in so you have to send them off to be repaired).
The recent Right to Repair Act excludes phones and laptops, which rather defeats the object. Apple threw its toys out of the pram and eventually conceded, but now sells an expensive DIY repair kit, which is not really much better. The alternative of course is to buy a used smartphone, rather than buy new (or go without – Ed Sheeran does, he hasn’t owned a phone for years, saying it made him sad and stressed!)
Fairphone 5 is made with conflict-free recycled materials and easy to repair. In a world where there are more phones than people, their Keep Club gives rewards, the longer you keep your existing phone. You can also recycle your old phone, to redeem credit against your next one.
It also sells climate-conscious headphones made from 80% recycled plastic and 100% recycled aluminium, in a folding design that you can repair yourself. Made with a living wage, these are built to last and they recycle the same amount of electronic waste, for each pair bought.
a smartphone with a 4-year warranty
Teracube 2e looks like a regular smartphone but you don’t have to ditch and upgrade it every 2 years. It has a 4-year premium care warranty and can be repaired (even by yourself). While big tech companies glue phones shut and force customers into expensive in-house repairs and unnecessary upgrades, this company puts customers and the planet first.
The phone is made with 25% recycled polycarbonate and has a replaceable battery with full HD+ display and dual rear cameras and a front-facing camera. You also get a pre-fitted screen protector, charging cable and biodegradable case, sent in minimal recycled packaging.
TeraCube Thrive is a safe smartphone for children (child psychologists suggest age 11 is the minimum age). This phone sets time limits with built-in location tracking and also blocks unsafe searches (and unapproved callers).
a simple smartphone for seniors (and the rest of us!)
Doro 8100 is not just ‘a smartphone for seniors’ but for anyone fed up with the constant designer one-upmanship in the mobile phone industry. Most of us like to have a phone, if only for emergencies. This one has all you need (including an emergency assistance key) but no more.
where to sell, donate or recycle old smartphones
Don’t just throw away your old phone, as it will leach chemicals. If not trading it in, you can send it off in a freepost envelope to Recycling for Good Causes, and they will pass proceeds from recycling the metals to your chosen little local charity. Or find your nearest recycling facility.
giffgaff is a people-owned phone company that also sells refurbished phones online. The phones carry a 12-month warranty and you get free next-day delivery with 80% battery health or better. You can search by brand and trade in your own old phone to help pay for the cost.
Alternatively, get someone to host the box, and everyone in the community can deposit their used mobile phones and accessories with TerraCycle, that sends it off to make into other goods. The box costs around £100 (funded by a council or you could all pool £1 each). It’s like a town amnesty, to get all the rubbish out of your town, that councils can’t recycle. It takes phones and screen protectors but not batteries (put them in your local battery recycling bin).