Why secondhand phones make sense

Earlier this year I finally upgraded my phone, after having the same iPhone for 5 or maybe even 6 years. I chose a refurbished phone from the network giffgaff. I’ve also previously phone a refurbished phone from Backmarket. I happened to be working with someone who’d previously done an internship with them – otherwise I doubt getting a secondhand phone would have crossed my mind.

My refurbished phone

It makes sense financially

Vodafone are currently offering the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max at £52 a month including a 6GB plan, plus £49 upfront, locking you in for 3 years. That’s a total of £1,921 over 36 months. However, giffgaff offers the same phone refurbished ‘like new’ for £899. Their pay monthly £10 goodybag gives you 15GB of data plus unlimited minutes and texts. Over 36 months, that works out at £1,259 – £662 less than the Vodafone plan, and you get almost triple the data.

It benefits the environment

Deloitte Global predicts that smartphones – the world’s most popular consumer electronics device – will generate 146 million tons of CO2 or equivalent emissions (CO2e) in 2022. Since manufacturing accounts for almost all of a smartphone’s carbon footprint, the best way to reduce that number is to ensure that phones are used for as long as possible, rather than constantly manufacturing brand new ones. In addition to carbon emissions, a further consideration is that making phones requires the extraction of resources such as tin, cobalt and aluminium.

The European Commission reports that the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (e waste) generated every year in the EU has increased rapidly. It is now one of the fastest growing waste streams. Currently, up to 4.8 million tonnes of e-waste are improperly disposed of every year (e.g. into nature, residual waste streams or illegal exports) instead of being re-used or recycled. Choosing secondhand helps reduce these negative environmental impacts.

I also treated myself to a compostable pela case. It wasn’t especially cheap (about £ 39) but as I’d saved so much by getting a secondhand phone, I went for it.

Pela case

I’ve been very happy with my refurbished phones from both giffgaff and Backmarket. The latter is still going strong after 4 years and both phones were as good as new when I bought them. I’ve saved hundreds of pounds and benefitted the environment at the same time. I definitely recommend this option.

Published by jengreggs

I'm a London-based writer and blogger focused on sustainability in fashion. My purpose is to help everyone discover the joy of living more sustainably.

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