By Sookie Lioncourt
GRN Reports

As the world becomes more environmentally conscious about daily activities, consumers are increasingly favoring items with green specifications; even when checking for their next smartphone.

But, what are the true qualities that we should watch out for in an eco-friendly gadget? Apart from green applications that you can install in a handset, there are innate features that an eco-friendly smartphone must possess. Here’s what to consider:

1. Make sure the phone has a high eco-rating

Phone energy use 2

Make sure your phone has recyclable parts and a Zero Charger function to stop excess recharging.

The easiest way to detect whether your desired phone loves Mother Nature is when it passes the guidelines provided by the Underwriters Laboratory, which lists best practices for cellphones — known as the UL ISR 110 standard — here.

Your mobile carrier also can provide helpful information. Some cellular network providers offer eco-ratings for the phones they retail to customers. While these ratings aren’t the same as a certification, they can help you identify the phones that have the eco-friendly qualities that are becoming accepted in the industry.

For instance, Verizon Wireless  showed 5 Key Factors for detecting sustainable smartphones on their ECO Specs page:

a. Box: It must be made from 60 percent recycled material or from sustainable sources endorsed by  Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

b. Device Plastics: Polycarbonate plastic is one of the top common recycled parts of a smartphone. The shell protecting the interior component must be fully recyclable.

c. Toxics: While phones contain a certain set of metals by necessity (such as cadmium), there are toxics that can be avoided in your handset, such as  phthalates, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), bromated flame retardants (BFR), and toxic metals like mercury and lead can be kept to a minimum or avoided.  The battery must also pass the Restrictions of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS)

d. Energy Efficiency: The charger provided must have an Energy Star seal and the phone must have a Zero Charger feature that stops consuming power for charging when its full.

e. Recyclable Device: The parts of the smartphone must easily be disassembled to make reuse of components possible. In addition, the battery must be detachable. Unfortunately, the 2011 phone that made the most progress in this area, Samsung’s Replenish, made of 82 percent recyclable materials and 34 percent recycled plastic housing, did not take the market by storm, though it’s still available on the after-market.

2. Battery must last longer than your common usage

Smartphones photo by Ed Yourdon

Too many phones end up in landfills, make sure yours is made of mostly recyclable parts. (Photo: Ed Yourdon, Creative Commons)

One of the common features of a sustainable device is having a long battery life. This means it can at least last 12-hours or a day of full usage. Some manufacturers are now trying their best to incorporate this feature. So far, based on the checklist provided by Verizon on their Eco specs (as listed above), the Droid Maxx seem to last the longest on their list. With an eco-rating of 4.5, this full fledged handset  can last for 48 hours (2 days) of continuous usage with its 3500 mAH battery. This saves energy and should be considered a priority before purchasing any device.

3. Must come with a trade-in recycling program

Although often disregarded, signing up for a trade-in recycling program allows you to save the environment by ensuring your old gadget will be reused afterwards. Apart from preserving Mother Nature, you can also get exciting discounts or prizes for doing this good deed. Ed Valdez of said “by allowing consumers to return and trade-in their smartphones through their local authorized Smartphone retailers or cell phone stores, consumers could get a discount for their next product.”

4. Green accessories available

Devices that come with environmentally-friendly accessories or have available ones sold individually also counts as a green point for a green smart device. Even solar chargers like the Enerplex Solar-powered Phone Cases can make a difference in the world. Thatcher Michelsen wrote, “one iPhone case by itself isn’t going to offset carbon emissions drastically. But if millions of consumer goods are fueled with sunlight rather than conventional grid power, the effect on emissions and electricity use wouldn’t be trivial.”

Remember that it takes a concerned citizen to make a change in this world we live in. Try to be that change by choosing sustainable gadgets. Apart from keeping the planet safe, you’re certain that your life is also  protected by choosing green. What’s your recommended eco-friendly smartphone? Be an eco-lover today and bookmark our website to get the latest news and tips about sustainability.

(Sookie Lioncourt enjoys small walks in the park; and often strolls the grass area barefooted. She also loves checking out the latest buzz about green technology and various sustainable projects worldwide. Start thinking and acting green, follow her on Twitter.)