If you're in the market for a new cell phone, consider one of these "green" models that are being featured at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
* Motorola's MOTO W233 Renew – constructed of plastic made from recycled water bottles; can be completely recycled. Cost: $9.99 with a two-year contract; buy through T-Mobile. Comes in packaging made of 100% recycled paper; includes prepaid shipping envelope so you can easily recycle your old mobile phone. PLUS: Motorola pays to offset the carbon emissions created during manufacture and distribution, along with the first two years you use it. (Its carbon offset payments are going to support methane gas capture at a landfill in New Bedford, MA).
* Sony Ericsson's GreenHeart – made with recycled biodegradable components; the charger uses a fraction of the electricity common chargers draw. NOTE: Sony Ericsson stood out in the 2008 Greenpeace Electronics Guide for banning hazardous chemicals in its products since the beginning of the year. In particular, the company's T650i mobile phone and Pli PDA came out on top in Greenpeace’s Searching for Greener Electronics survey.
* Samsung's Blue Earth solar-powered phone – made from recycled plastic and just darn pretty. According to the company, the phone and its high-efficiency charger contain none of the toxic chemicals often used in electronics, such as brominated flame retardants, beryllium or phthalates. My favorite feature? An "eco walk" function that lets you count your steps with a built-in pedometer so you can also calculate how much less CO2 you're using by walking as opposed to driving.
* ZTE, a Chinese manufacturer, and Digicel, a Latin American service provider, have teamed up behind what they say is the first solar-powered mobile phone. This is still in design, but when it's on the market, it's expected to appeal particularly to the 2 billion people in the world who have limited or no access to steady electricity supplies.
* Nokia released the 5630 Xpress Music Phone, along with a preloaded application called "we:offset" so users can measure their carbon emissions. Want to pay for the pollution you create? The company provides a link to an easy online form just for that purpose.
Though I welcome these product developments, I hope they don't encourage any of you to shelve a perfectly good phone if you don't have to. We're adding more e-waste to trash than any other form of garbage. The longer we use the phones we have, the less electronic garbage we'll have to clean up in the not-so-distant future.
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