One is fully engaged in sustainability, the other does not like it so much. While it is quite easy to opt for local products in the supermarket instead of products that have to come by plane or boat, it is a little less easy with other purchases. Smartphones contain materials that are not easily available. With these 5 tips you make it easier for yourself to make more sustainable choices when you buy gadgets.
Tips for sustainable gadgets
There are many things to consider when looking at gadget durability. The conditions for the workers, the way in which something can be recycled, the energy consumption, but also how the product has an impact on, for example, ruining habitat for flora and fauna. A large laundry list of possibilities, in which it is not always clear what the origin of a product is. Time for a little direction.
1. Look for quality marks
Not everyone is a fan of certification, because not all labels turn out to be equally ‘correct’, but it is at least a start. You can of course look at the environmental label of a particular product, but you also have TCO certification (which looks at the use of chemicals, worker conditions, user health, sustainability and recycling) and EPEATwhich looks at key metrics for assessing an item’s durability.
2. Opt for a second-hand one
A second-hand or refurbished product may not have a very good origin, but by giving it a second life, you have at least saved it from the rubbish dump. Maybe you can ask friends if they have anything left, or look for a good supplier of refurbished equipment. Pay close attention to the energy consumption of the device, because that can still be quite high and therefore not necessarily sustainable.
3. Think about what’s important to you
Precisely because it can be quite a jungle to make a sustainable choice, it helps to determine for yourself what you find very important. Do you want to prevent us from taking too much from Mother Nature, or do you think the conditions in which people work are more important? You may prefer not to make a choice, but that is more convenient when researching the supplier of the product. For example, you can look for news about those topics and the brand, or see what the brand itself focuses on on the website. However, searching for news is best, because that way you don’t get a ‘we from toilet duck’ effect. There are also organizations that do it for you, such as Ethical Consumer, a website that specializes in sustainability.
4. Make a list of ‘good’ brands
In the Netherlands we have the telephone brand Fairphone that does everything it can to make smartphones more sustainable, but there are more brands that want to get it right. Nimble, House of Marley and Kerf are also brands to keep an eye on in this area. Nowadays every company says something about sustainability, but investing a certain percentage of the money in ‘charities’ is not enough. Brands such as Fairphone look further and ensure that their products are manufactured in the best possible way, versus just ‘buying off’. MPOWRD is also one to keep an eye on.
5. Don’t buy anything new, but repair the old
In the end, the best thing is still not to buy a new gadget, but to repair what you have. Even though as a society we are increasingly moving towards the fact that we no longer repair anything, often also because these are vague processes where you have no idea how long you will lose a gadget if you have it repaired via the supplier. When repairing yourself, you can often rely on YouTube tutorials, but not everyone dares to do so. Still, it can be worth at least trying, especially if the broken device otherwise ends up in the recycling street.