Although we get the Green Cheapskate's POV on cell phones, we also recognize that they are pretty much ubiquitous in today's world. And they are getting more so. Cell phone use is exploding across the planet, with no signs of slowing down, and the devices are becoming ever more sophisticated.
Just a couple of years ago I remember citing that cell phones were expected to last an average of 18 months. Yet it seems to me that many people are swapping up to the latest devices even more frequently than that. The jury is still out on whether cell phones are safe, but they seem to be here to stay, at least for the time being (try to minimize your exposure and use a hands-free set if possible).
Katie Fehrenbacher at earth2tech seems to doubt how many consumers care about the eco footprint of their phones, but we like to think it could become an increasingly important concern. So we checked out the Reclaim phone, made by Samsung and compatible with Sprint. The handset looks great. It's a shiny, bright green, which is an interesting way to advertise your beliefs (though it may not sit well with the most hardcore). It has a great feel in the palm, and it has a slick slide-action to display a full QWERTY keyboard for easy texting. It's also 3G, has GPS and a 2 megapixel camera/camcorder. The phone has one-click access to popular websites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, and comes preloaded with links to green tips and environmental info.
The phone has a nice color screen and definitely seems more user friendly than some other smart phones (notably Blackberries). I would definitely consider getting one, if only it were compatible with my office network (I do have Sprint, but still have an old non-smart phone, a Katana).
So what's green about the Reclaim besides the color? It's made with 80% recycled materials, with 40% of the outer casing made from corn-based bioplastics. It does have fewer toxic chemicals than many mobile phones, and comes with an energy-efficient charger. When you buy one Sprint gives $2 to The Nature Conservancy. It costs around $50 with a 2-year Sprint contract.
earth2tech points out that it's not dissimilar from the high-end Blue Earth phone from Samsung, which "has a solar panel on the back, a pedometer and software to track the carbon emissions you've saved by walking."
The Reclaim looks like a pretty cool phone, and it seems to be one of the greener options out there if you must go mobile, or need to replace your old handset. (You may even get paid to recycle that!)
Across the board Sprint is making strides to go greener. According to the company:
Sprint is the first and only U.S. telecommunications provider to publicly commit to significantly increase phone-recycling efforts. Were pledging to collect an amount equal to 90% of what we sell per year by 2017.
Sprint leads the U.S. telecommunications industry in terms of actual renewable energy in use - and has committed to securing 10% of its total energy needs from renewable sources by 2017.
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