Sustainable Technology: a Shopping Guide - Zero Waste Nest

Guide to Ethical + Sustainable Technology

“Siri, how was my phone made?” — don’t wait for a convincing answer to come up. Here are alternatives for better, fairer technology!

(disclaimer: this isn’t a regular iPhone. It’s a refurbished iPhone.)

Phones

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this is not the part where the choice is the most affluent yet, as phones inherently require tremendous resources and conflict minerals to be produced.

Fairphone

Based in the Netherlands.
Packaging: the packaging is minimal, but most importantly: they do not include anything you’re very likely to have already, such as chargers, cables or earphones, so you can help cut down on e-waste.

Here’s the phone that cares for people and for the planet. Now the main special aspect about it is how it was made. They’ve used fair materials wherever possible, such as recycled plastic, as well as to set up traceable supply chains to source conflict-free tin and tantalum from China, conflict-free tungsten from Rwanda, and Fairtrade gold from Peru. The phones are tested and assembled at the Arima factory in China, and the company is very proud to share lots of insights of the factory. This a certainly an example to follow for other brands!

The phone also has replaceable modules, making it one of the most reparable phones out there. You can change the pieces yourself, with the help of a just screwdriver!

“Because in a world that does not seem to care,
caring is the most radical thing you can do.”

Sustainable Mobile Phone - Zero Waste Nest

Phone cases

This one must be the easiest technology related item to find, as so many new alternatives popped up in the last years!

Pela

Based in the United States.
Packaging: minimal + plastic-free.

Pela’s founder kept seeing flax field fires in his hometown as a young boy and wondered if there was a better use for flax straw than just burning it down every year. That’s how the idea of creating phone cases and other accessories made of Flaxstic, a completely compostable blend of starch-based elastomer with flax shive.

Nimble

Based in the United States.
Packaging: plastic-free + fully biodegradable. They use recycled scrap paper with no harmful inks or dyes.

Psstt! You can get $10 off your purchase using the coupon generated here.

Nimble’s phone cases are made from recycled plastic bottles. (and all the materials they used in general has been 100% thought-through to lower down their impact to a minimum!) They are part of 1% for the Planet, meaning that they commit at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental nonprofits.
Also—they include a disposable bag with every product sold, so you could send back all your old or unused tech for safe, responsible reclamation, and close the loop on electronic waste.

A Good Company

Based in Sweden.
Packaging: minimal. They use a material of their own invention: stone paper. It’s paper made in a solar-powered factory from stone meaning more trees in the ground, less wasted water, and zero chemicals or bleaches. 

Get 15% off your first order (over 50€) using the coupon generated here.

All of their cases are made in Sweden from linseed plant waste grown by a local farmer not far away from their headquarters. It is 100% back yard compostable. Last but not least, you can send your case back to them when it’s reached the end of its life through their circularity program!

Cables

A Good Company

Based in Sweden.
Packaging: minimal. They use a material of their own invention: stone paper. It’s paper made in a solar-powered factory from stone meaning more trees in the ground, less wasted water, and zero chemicals or bleaches. 

Get 15% off your first order (over 50€) using the coupon generated here.

Here’s the last cable you’ll ever buy! It is 3-1 cable, with USB-C laptop, a lightning iPhone, and a Micro-USB for Android or wireless headphones, made from recycled nylon and recycled BPA-free plastic.

Portable Chargers / Power Banks

Nimble

Based in the United States.
Packaging: plastic-free + fully biodegradable. They use recycled scrap paper with no harmful inks or dyes.

Psstt! You can get $10 off your purchase using the coupon generated here.

Their chargers are made from recycled aluminium and plant-based bioplastics.

AirPod Cases

Compostable AirPods Case - Zero Waste NestPela

Based in the United States.
Packaging: minimal + plastic-free.

Here’s the first compostable AirPods case!  It’s made of the same materials as their phone cases—Flaxstic, a completely compostable blend of starch-based elastomer with flax shive.

 

All of the above! But refurbished.

With sites available globally, Back Market is dedicated to refurbished electronics. Their offer ranges from smartphones to tablets, MacBooks, laptops, headphones,… Their goal is to stretch out existing electronics’ lives by making them circulate from owner to owner.

How does it work exactly? Back Market basically makes the connection between factories that refurbish phones, and customers. As simple as that! And the massive difference compared to buying regular second-hand devices is that the platform provides you with a 12 months warranty. And that is VERY reassuring.

Cover image credit: Sebastiano Giuseppe Garilli—thank you.

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