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What’s the carbon footprint of your mobile phone?

We use them all day and charge them all night long, but do you give much thought to the environmental impact your phone is having? As handsets get whizzier and more capable of amazing feats, the Guardian has taken an in-depth look at the carbon emissions created by your handset and the networks which connect your calls.

First to your personal handset: a one minute call to another mobile creates 57g of CO2 emissions – the Guardian likens this to the amount garnered by one apple or, for the less healthy among us, a big swig of beer. Three minutes of chat is about the same as sending a small second-class letter on recycled paper – but a lot quicker, of course.

Pretty small amounts in isolation, but we use our mobiles for much more than that these days – it’s not just calling but emailing, surfing the web, watching videos and listening to music. Even adding up the emissions used by calling can be worryingly high – say you make an hour’s worth of calls every day for a year: that’s the same amount of CO2 as flying from London to New York (one way, economy).

Using the basis that there were 2.7bn mobile phones in use around the world in 2009, The Guardian posits that mobile calls account for about 125 million tonnes of carbon emissions. Sounds like loads, right? But it’s actually just slightly more than a quarter of a per cent of global emissions.

Other points to note are the manufacture of your handset (around 16kg CO2 emissions), the power it consumes (around 8kg over two years of use) and the footprint created by the network as it transmits your calls (around 47kg per year, at the Guardian’s best estimate). Individually, all this might not sound like much but it adds up – especially given the number of mobile phones being manufactured and used every year – not to mention how we get rid of them at the end of their two-year life cycle.

It’s always a good idea to lower your carbon emissions wherever possible – phone-wise, you could quit using your mobile for two years and it’d be the same as forgoing a return trip to New York. Slightly less drastically, you can try texting and using your landline to make calls wherever possible, and saving you handset’s energy by using our handy battery-life-saving tips and tricks. If by some miracle we don’t destroy it in years to come, the Earth and your children’s children might just thank you. Now, how about we all join hands for a rousing rendition of Earth Song?

[Source: The Guardian]

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