Getting the Message

Two of Canada's wireless networks now offer greener mobile phones

Just as cell phone use in North America has lagged behind Europe, so has the availability of “green” phones—mobile devices that are more energy efficient and less hazardous to the environment. But the last six months have begun to change that, with the introduction of the MOTO W233 Renew in Canada in Earth Month, followed by the September release of the Samsung Reclaim.

These two phones may not be the epitome of green—there isn’t a phone out there yet that is 100 percent recycled and recyclable and runs on renewable energy  (although, at the World Mobile Congress last winter, Samsung unveiled a phone called Blue Earth that recharges using solar panels), but they offer a starting point for anyone concerned about the impact of this pervasive device on the environment.

Green Living recently got a preview of the Samsung Reclaim. Here’s what the device has to offer, along with a snapshot of the competition. But remember, when you consider that 1.1 billion mobile handsets were sold worldwide in 2007, the greenest choice of all would be to stay faithful to your landline or to hang on to your existing cellular for as long as possible.   

Samsung Reclaim

This brand new eco-friendly slider phone from Samsung will catch your attention: it comes in two vibrant colours, Earth Green and Ocean Blue. In addition to the slide-out QWERTY keyboard for messaging, it features web access, a digital camera, GPS and TV and music applications.

What it’s good for: It functions as a palm-sized texting machine with enough multi-media options to meet the entertainment needs of most users.

Green Features:

-    Phone casing is 40 percent corn-based bio-plastic

-    As a whole, the phone is 80 percent made of recyclable materials

-    Charger is Energy Star-approved and will notify you when the phone is fully charged

-    Packaging is made from 70 percent recycled materials and is fully recyclable; printed with soy-based inks

-    Samsung offers the Recycle Direct program, which operates 24 drop-off locations around Canada; the company’s recycling partner in Canada is Global Electric Electronic Processing (GEEP). Or you can recycle it through Bell’s Blue Box program.

Greenest Feature: Energy use is where this phone excels (it’s the company’s most energy efficient offering)—plus, you’ll feed the energy vampire a little less by unplugging your charger once the notification light comes on that your phone is fully refueled.

Cool Factor: It represents a new era from Samsung, which is committed to release one new green wireless product per year—and the company is ranked number two on Greenpeace International’s Guide to Greener Electronics, ahead of most of its wireless competitors (except Nokia).

Price: $49.95* and up through Bell (* based on a 3-year Bell contract).

MOTO W233 Renew

Launched last spring, the MOTO W233 Renew was the first “green” phone to hit the Canadian market. It’s a candy bar-shaped phone with a small digital display, standard keyboard and a handful of other features, designed for a budget- and eco-conscious  customer who is seeking a cell phone that forgoes flash for function and sustainability.

What it’s good for: Mainly a voice-only phone with messaging, web access and a digital music player.

Green Features:

-    Phone casing made from 25 percent recycled plastic and 100% recyclable (through Fido’s partnership with Phones-for-Food or Motorola’s partnership with Recycle My Cell

-    100 percent post-consumer recycled paper packaging, printed with vegetable-based inks; more efficient packaging to reduce waste

-    Recycling via a postage-paid recycling envelope from Phones-for-Food (or through drop-off at any Fido location)

-    CO2 production during the phone’s manufacture, distribution and operation is offset through the U.S.-based non-profit carbon offsetter

Greenest Feature: It proves that talk really is cheap by turning refuse (five 1-gallon plastic water bottles) into the phone’s casing.

Cool Factor: The lime green phone, with white and black accents, hints at the product’s pedigree without screaming green.

Price: $0* and up through Fido (* based on a 2-year Fido contract).