Smart Living | Smart Living

Smart Living | 22 Apr 2022

Tune your tech to make every day an Earth Day

Want to make more environmentally conscious choices when it comes to your digital gadgets? Read on…

Reducing our carbon footprints may seem like an overwhelming challenge at times, but making small changes to how we use our smartphones and tablets could actually have a significant cumulative impact.

Longer life

New smartphones and tablets rely on various metals extracted from the earth, which isn’t great for the environment or the workers who mine them. So it makes sense to make our gadgets last as long as possible.

“Our current use of the earth’s resources is unsustainable so we need to move to an economy where electronic devices are used for longer through software upgrades and repairs,” says Emma Kidd, Vodafone’s UK Environment Manager.

“To make a real difference, buy a refurbished phone and keep it for as long as possible.”

Extending the life of your phone isn’t as hard as you might think. For example, Vodafone’s EVO plans include Battery Refresh as one of its many benefits – the ability to upgrade your battery when it starts losing its oomph.

For other issues, such as cracked screens, a Vodafone Insurance plan can provide cover with next-day replacement. Or your local Vodafone store can advise you on your repair options.

Smartphone battery tips

Eking out the most usage time from your smartphone battery between charges also makes sense. Here are some useful tips:

  • Lower your screen brightness.
  • Turn on ‘dark mode’ (on phones with OLED screens).
  • Turn off WiFi when you’re not on a WiFi network.
  • Turn off ‘background refresh’ on non-urgent apps.

Be choosy when buying new devices

If you do want to buy a new phone, look for the Eco Rating label in one of our retail stores. This rating scores devices on criteria such as durability and recyclability and can help you make a more sustainable choice. And the good news is that the list of participating manufacturers is growing fast.

Alternatively, if you buy a refurbished device you could help save 50kg of carbon dioxide from being pumped into the atmosphere.

Keep your phone up-to-date

You can also increase the longevity of your device by ensuring you download all operating system and security updates as they become available. These will help keep your phone purring along like a well-tuned car. But not all manufacturers support their devices for the same number of years, so it’s worth checking this before you buy.

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For example, Google says its Pixel phones will get the latest version of the Android operating system for at least three years after their release date, with the latest Pixel 6 range also guaranteed to get security updates for at least five years.

For Samsung Galaxy devices launched in 2019 and afterwards, select models will receive security updates for a minimum of four years after their launch date, while some will get them for five years.

Apple doesn’t have an explicit support lifecycle policy but the iPhone 6s series released in 2015, and the iPad Air 2 released in 2014, are the company’s oldest mobile devices still to receive system updates.

Switch off, save energy

Another simple way to reduce your devices’ energy usage is by switching them off when you’re not using them, rather than leaving them on standby.

This sounds obvious but it’s worth repeating, as The Energy Saving Trust estimates this can reduce most households’ energy bills by around £35 a year.

Trade in, donate or recycle

Vodafone stores will accept devices for recycling, such as phones, home broadband routers and chargers. These discarded gadgets will be recycled responsibly by Vodafone’s accredited recycling partners.

Alternatively, you could also choose to donate an old phone or tablet to Vodafone’s Tech Appeal. The company’s charity partners redistribute them, bundled with free SIMs from Vodafone, to people in digital poverty who would otherwise be excluded from accessing the internet.

So far, the Tech Appeal campaign has helped 10,000 people. Donating is simple, fast and free of charge.

The homeworker dividend

Where we use our gadgets can make a difference, too.

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Carbon offsetting schemes are controversial, but some are increasingly gaining respect. Which ones should you and your family adopt?

A report from the Carbon Trust and the Vodafone Institute found that working from home pre-pandemic saved 272kg of carbon dioxide for every remote worker, but 889kg for every remote worker during the pandemic.

Intriguingly, the report found that the greatest source of carbon savings wasn’t from reduced commuting, but from a reduction in the energy required to power energy-inefficient office buildings and other workspaces.

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