Don’t Upgrade Your Phone (Yet!)

This transcript comes from a pre-written script; it may not perfectly represent the finished video.

In the next few months pretty much every company is going to be releasing new phones; and they’ll be bragging about all the amazing new features these new phones have to get you to replace your old – or kind-of-old phone. 

And let’s face it—we love our phones, especially new ones! In fact, 84% of people can’t go a single day without texting, calling their moms, scrolling the web, or watching cat videos. 

But your phone isn’t just a magical digital portal, it impacts the real world more than you might think.

Making a phone uses almost 60% of the elements found on the periodic table, and we make a lot of phones. Almost 1.5 billion phones are made and sold every year, and the resources used to make those phones are finite. Even if you recycle your old phone, up to 35% of those resources are lost in the recycling process

Take rare earth metals. Without them, your phone wouldn’t buzz, your screen wouldn’t light up, and your phone wouldn’t be nearly as useful as it is now. 

But rare earths are…rare, and mining them requires pumping a lot of harsh chemicals into a lot of dirt, producing toxic waste, hurting the environment and surrounding communities.

All that for phones we only keep for a year or two before we throw them out? And yes, we toss out a lot of phones. According to the EPA, between 130 million and 150 million phones are abandoned in the US every year. 

And according to the World Economic Forum “extending the lifespan of smartphones and other electronic devices by just one year can save as many carbon emissions as taking two million cars off the road each year.

This year instead of rushing to replace your phone, try and keep it around for a little longer. It’s an easy way that you can make an impact by just… not buying something new.