Category Archives: environment and society

Where does your iPhone come from, who made it, and what will happen when you replace it?

True Cost of an iPhone

Check out this infographic The True Cost of an iPhone (created by MBAonline.com)

Do you know…

– where the elements used for the production of iPhone parts come from and how (and by whom) they are mined?
– how much impact on the environment your iPhone had before getting to you?
– how much air and water pollution it will create when dumped as hazardous waste (when the phone is not properly recycled).
– that iPhone users are subjecting pregnant mothers to dioxin pollution and causing children to live with dangerous levels of lead – in places like Guiyu (where 80% of “recycled” iPhones end up)?
– how a large number of iPhone users are “addicted”, showing symptoms of nomophobia: fear of being without a cell phone?

When I saw the infographic, I wasn’t (unfortunately) surprised about most of the information on iPhone’s environmental impact and social issues related to its production – it’s something I’d read about many times – but the addiction part caught my attention. Mostly because I felt scared that I was one of those users who have grown so attached to the ‘magic phone’ (as referred to by a friend of mine who doesn’t own one of these) that they can’t be normal without it. I know I’m not an extreme case – I don’t play any game on it, and other than checking emails there are only a few apps that I actually use. But I’ve gotten used to just playing with the phone for no reason – not because I need to access something, but looking for something that I should be reading or doing.

That, I thought, is almost like the beginning of an addiction.

So I decided to make some rules for myself: no browsing when I don’t actually need to; no iPhone in the bedroom; and no ‘being busy’ with the phone when I’m with other people (unless needed, like looking up directions – which I often do need). I still like to have my iPhone with me for taking pictures on the go (no need to carry both a phone and a digital camera) and, again, for looking up directions, especially in new places.

As with most things in life, too much of anything can’t be good for you, and at least for me, some conscious time-outs from the ‘magic phone’ has helped make my life a bit less artificially busy and more real – feeling like you are actually there where you are, with the people that you are with.

And as for the really heart-breaking environmental impacts of the production and disposal of iPhones… there really isn’t any way, I feel, that any user can justify the ‘true cost of an iPhone’. The only way we can all be a bit better as consumers may be not using it too much so we are not addicted to it, and therefore don’t feel the need to keep updating to newer models.


 

UPDATE (APRIL 2014)
Since the original link to the infographic (mbaonline.com) no longer works, here are a few pages that include some parts of the infographic as well as additional comments and insights:

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