5 Ways Your Smartphone Can Help You Live More Sustainably
If you drive a hybrid car, use LED lightbulbs, or have a smart thermostat, you already know that technology is a powerful tool in the effort to live more sustainably. Green technology is advancing at an exciting pace, but while you’re waiting for the next big thing, you may be overlooking the potential of a tool you’ve got right in the palm of your hand — your smartphone. Sure, there are great apps and sites to help you access information, but that’s just the beginning. Here are five ways you can use your phone to shrink your environmental footprint.
Sustainably Tip #1 – File in the Cloud
Do you have a filing cabinet or overstuffed desk drawer filled with insurance documents, receipts, bank records, and other critical pieces of paper you’ve accumulated over the years? In the same way that your music collection has probably moved from a few dusty shelves to the cloud, consider digitizing all that paperwork. Choose to receive paperless communication from your bank, credit cards, and utilities. If you need to refer to something, access it through the company’s app. Turn your phone into a handheld scanner by snapping photos of key documents and files.
You’ll save paper and reduce your risk of losing the originals. To protect your information, use a secure password and perform regular backups.
Sustainably Tip #2 – Maximize Mobile Benefits
Then there’s all that paper we don’t need to save. Things like boarding passes and store loyalty cards often get tossed after a few days or weeks, generating mountains of needless waste. The next time you fly, choose a mobile boarding pass, and simply scan the barcode from your phone at the airport. Download your favorite retailers’ apps and keep those loyalty points and coupons handy while you shop.
Sustainably Tip #3 – Lighten Up With an E-Reader
While many readers feel nostalgic for the feel (and even the smell) of conventional books, there’s no denying the numerous benefits of e-books. They’re more affordable and are easier to carry and store, and they offer convenient options like syncing across multiple devices, switching between print and audio narration, and changing visual sizes and styles to accommodate readers’ needs. Avid readers may also reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing, shipping, and disposing of the books they read. And don’t worry — it’s okay to hang on to your existing library when you need a fix of that old book smell.
Sustainably Tip #4 – Make Your Home Smarter
Smart homes have arrived, and your smartphone puts you in charge no matter where you are. If you have a Galaxy S7 Edge smartphone and you also have a Samsung oven, air conditioner, or other home appliance, shouldn’t you be able to use them together? With the Samsung Smart Home app, you can do just that.
Suppose you whip up a great dish for a potluck with friends — and in the middle of the party, you realize you forgot to turn off the oven. Use the app to turn it off (or just check to make sure you don’t need to). Save money and energy by turning the heat or air conditioning down when you’ll be away for several hours, and turn it back up when you’re heading home so it will be just the way you like it when you walk in the door.
Sustainably Tip #5 – Recycle Your Retired Phone
If you’re like most people, your smartphone is only a few years old at most. What did you do with the one you had before that? How about the one before that? Many people hang on to their old smartphones, but doing so can have a harsh impact on the environment. Smartphone manufacturing requires the use of precious metals, and mining them proves resource-intensive. You can help by recycling your old smartphone so that those materials don’t go to waste.
Contact your carrier to find out whether it offers a recycling program, or research third-party services that recycle electronic devices. In some cases, you may even be able to get a discount or cash payment in exchange for your retired phone.
Your smartphone is a valuable tool in your commitment to going green. Challenge yourself to take full advantage of all the ways your phone can help you help the environment.