If you’re paying attention to the news, then it’s impossible not to have heard about how Starbucks has banned all straws from its cafés to help eliminate ocean trash. Though it promises just a tiny reduction in the amount of plastic waste, it signals a necessary step in the right direction towards a more sustainable future. Yet, besides forgoing straws the next time you order your iced latte, you might be wondering how you can help the world. Next to learning more about environmental policies and eco-friendly tips, your phone is a resource of green opportunities. Check out how you can turn your phone into an eco-warrior to help cut down on your waste.
Remove it from the E-Waste Cycle
E-waste is a huge problem of the 21st Century. According to the latest figures, just 29 percent of old gadgets in the U.S. get recycled properly. The remaining 71 percent goes to landfills, where it leaches toxic chemicals into the ground.
America produces more e-waste than anywhere else on Earth, but it doesn’t always wind up in the country’s landfills. As the only developed country not to have ratified the Basel Convention, the U.S. sends its hazardous waste to developing countries. TVs, computers, phones, and other used electronics wind up in low-income areas of Asia, where workers pick through waste to extract the precious metals found in these gadgets. The World Health Organization says these electronics are contaminating local water and soil sources, and those living near dump sites face increases of health risks.
You can make sure you aren’t contributing to the problem by following these steps:
- Use a skin to extend its life: The longer you keep your phone, the longer you can keep it out of the trash. A grip-enhancing skin from dbrand adds traction to your slippery phone, so you’re less likely to drop it. Responsibility has its rewards, as the latest Android and iPhone skins come in exclusive textures like bamboo and dragon skin. They join a catalogue of designs that look as good as they protect your phone with scratch-free, grip-enhancing materials.
- Repair your handset before buying a new one: When it comes to a failing smartphone, most of us think to buy a new phone before repairing the one we already have. In many cases, purchasing a new Android or iPhone is actually cheaper than fixing it, especially if you’re due a new upgrade with your carrier. However, that’s not always the case. Check in with a guide like this one to see if you can repair your phone before you give up on it.
- Donate old, well-working tech: If you can’t resist the latest upgrade, even if your old phone works well, donate your phone to those who could use it. Charities like Free Geek and eBay’s Giving Works help the less fortunate get much-needed tech. Just remember to return your phone back to its factory settings before sending it off.
- Recycle your phone: Once it’s time to say your final goodbyes and lay your phone to rest, do not put it in your trash. It needs to be recycled properly. If your municipality doesn’t offer its own e-waste recycling program, look to local retailers to see if they offer a practical way to recycle your tech. IKEA collects used electronics in addition to batteries and light bulbs. Best Buy used to offer free recycling services throughout the States, but now it comes as a cost. Many manufacturers also have their own-take back programs that let you drop-off products at no charge.
Stop Using Google as Your Default Search Engine
There’s only one search engine that’s synonymous with the search itself. You don’t say you’ll Yahoo the answer to your question, and you don’t Bing it, either; you Google it. The Alphabet company has been answering the world’s most burning questions for more than a decade now, acting as its doctor, history professor, and confidant since 2007.
Our reliance on Google is built into our phones. If you have an Android, the search bar is there on your home screen, and Chrome is a default app. If you have an iPhone, your default search engine is also Google because the company paid Apple $3 billion for the privilege. Though it’s easiest to rely on these built-in Google options, you don’t have to ask Google for answers.
You can ask Ecosia and help the environment as you look up information. Ecosia works just like Google. You type in a question and within a micro-second, it presents the pertinent links to your topic. It even shows ads just like Google, except Ecosia pledges 80 percent of its ad revenue to its tree planting projects. It takes roughly 45 searches to plant one tree. If you’re like most people, it won’t take you long to plant your first tree once you download Ecosia to your phone.
So far, the eco-friendly search engine has already planted 30 million trees in Madagascar, Peru, and Burkina Faso, and it’s hoping to hit 1 billion by 2020.
In researching sustainable, eco-friendly habits, it’s easy to believe a green lifestyle is full of hardship and sacrifices. It doesn’t always have to be this way. Sometimes, you can just dip your toe in the water by taking simple steps towards environmentally friendly habits, like a new search engine and proper disposal of your phone. Try out these easy tips before you jump head first into a green lifestyle and see how easy it is to be an eco-warrior.