The bulk of the environmental impact of electronic devices is due to their manufacture and disposal, according to researchers at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. They want to motivate youth to hold on to their mobile phones for as long as possible.
Text messages and emojis have a far smaller environmental impact than frequently changing the device used to send them, according to the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. In its project Digital Sufficiency, researchers at the university found that the manufacture of smartphones or tablets accounts for around three-quarters of their total environmental impact. A youth, in contrast, who uses such a device each day pollutes the environment as much as if they drove 3.2 kilometres in a car or ate a hamburger.
“An especially large amount of resources and energy is consumed when a digital device is produced and disposed of,” said ZHAW researcher Regula Keller. According to the project, a mobile phone’s environmental impact is reduced by a quarter if it is used for three years instead of the usual two years in the 12 to 25 age group.
Together with the climate action organization myblueplanet and the agency Spinas Civil Voices, the ZHAW wants to motivate youth to use their smartphones for longer. To this end, they launched a fictional crowd funding for the most durable mobile phone ever: the ugPhone. Absolutely resilient and therefore environmentally friendly, it is also highly impractical and would therefore seem like a punishment to youth.
“This humorous approach is meant to motivate young people to use their own mobile phones for as long as possible so that such an impractical smartphone such as the ugPhone never becomes a reality,” said ZHAW research Urs Müller.
Instead of pledging money for the ugPhone, youth pledge on the campaign website to use their own smartphone for at least three years.
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