Cell phones. I have one. Through AT&T. It’s a Sony Ericsson Z525a that I bought 3 years ago, choosing this model because compared to the others offered at the time, it lasted the longest before needing to be recharged. (Talk time up to 9 hours and standby time up to 400.) It’s not special. It does have a crappy camera, but that’s about the only “extra.” No fancy keyboard. Not much in the way of web browsing. It’s fine. And it still works just fine.
Okay, now I know cell phones give off radiation and we are advised to keep them away from our heads. (I still don’t have a headset for mine. Just like I rarely use sunscreen. Tempting fate?) And I know there are all kinds of environmental issues around manufacture and disposal of cell phones, the very least of which is that they are made from plastic. Most of them are also full of toxic heavy metals.
I hadn’t even considered trading in my perfectly good phone (and am constantly urging others to really think before upgrading to the latest and greatest gadgets) until this morning, when I received an email from Green America (formerly Coop America) titled “5 Environmental Questions About Your Phone Company,” promoting Credo Mobile. Here’s what the email says:
If you’re concerned about the environment, you ask questions about the things you buy. Here are five questions to ask about your phone company:
1. How much has your phone company donated to Greenpeace?
2. Does it donate to plant trees for each ton of paper used?
3. Does it work to stop new coal-fired power plants?
4. Does it oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?
5. Does it support legislation to drastically cut CO2 emissions?
Credo’s answers to all these questions is a resounding, “Yes.” And if that weren’t enough, check out their Green Statement.
For those who don’t know, Credo used to be called Working Assets. It’s a socially responsible company that gives large amounts of money to progressive causes. In fact, Credo/Working Assets has been my long distance carrier for “16 long years,” according to the customer service rep I spoke to this morning, and I’ve always felt good about this ethical choice. But back when I bought my first cell phone, Credo wasn’t in the cellular business, so I went with AT&T (then Cingular.)
Seems like a no-brainer to switch to Credo for my cell plan, right? But there’s a catch. I’d have to trade in my old, perfectly good phone, for a new one. Why? Because Credo is on the Sprint network, which uses different technology from AT&T. I asked. I was all set to write a post about how I opted to forego the brand new free phone this morning. Not possible.
Question #1 — What do you think is the greener choice? Obviously, not having a cell phone in the first place. But I’m not willing to do that. So should I turn in my 3-year old phone (which will be refurbished & donated — Credo participates in Collective Good’s cell phone re-use/recycling program and offers several refurbished cell phones to customers to minimize cell phone waste) or should I stick with AT&T until this phone dies, even though it is a multinational corporation that may not share my values?
What would you do?
Question #2 — If you do think I should go ahead and switch to Credo, should I choose one of the very basic refurbished cell phones or should I upgrade to a smart phone like a Blackberry or Motorola Moto Q in order to be able to access the Internet and blog while away from home without having to lug around a laptop? Have any of you used one of these gadgets? Are they a good idea? And since I would have to replace my phone anyway, wouldn’t this be a good time to upgrade as well?
I’d love to find a used phone via Craigslist. Unfortunately finding a Credo-compatible phone via Craigslist will be difficult. Right now, there are none listed. And the customer service rep at Credo tells me that simply finding a Sprint-compatible phone will not work. Here is a list of the phone choices available to me if I switch. Should I pick one of these?
Or do nothing and continue to support AT&T. Would that be so bad?