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Five things to consider before you buy a new mobile phone

Mobile phones have revolutionised modern life and now most of us can't seem to do without them, and why should we? However it is important to recognise their negative environmental impacts. Here we look at how to reduce them. 

1. Upgrades

We all like an upgrade but we know its not great for the environment. If you really need an upgrade make sure you sell on (or give away your old handset) don't just throw it in the bin. If its still working well try giving it to family or friends first so you know it'll definitely be used. If they don't want it try an online recycling merchant they will often pay for your old handset even if its not working and then sell it on or recycle it.

Our article on buying refurbished electrical items has more information.

2. New phone - Fairphone

If you do buy a new handset, buy the ethical and eco-friendly Fairphone. If you can't afford a new model, look for quality refurbished second-hand models.

Produced by a pioneering ethical business of the same name the Fairphone uses conflict free minerals and works with manufacturers to ensure employee well-being.

Read how the Fairphone compares with other mobile phones in our shopping guide to mobile phones.

Found out more in the interview with Fairphone.

3. Smart phones

Try and get a smart phone with as many good extra functions as possible. For instance if you buy one with a decent camera built in this means you don't need to spend more money and waste more resources on a separate digital camera. They can also come with a host of other features including MP3 players, e-book readers, calculators and dicta-phones.

However, if you are trying to reduce your use of your phone and don't use lots of extra functions, look for simplified models which are beginning to make a come-back. Our shopping guide to mobile phones highlights some models which are simplified.

4. Use your handset to campaign

All over the world activists are putting technology to the use and organising actions using social media and text messaging through their phones. Why not use your phone to help organise with some local campaign groups? 

Our shopping guides are all mobile phone friendly so you can use them while your out shopping and campaign at the checkout.

5. Mobile phone networks

Mobile phone network providers are quite different in terms of their ethical rating.

Have a look at our rankings table to see which one best fits with your ethics. Use the sliders on the score tables to choose the ethical criteria that matter most to you. Remember that some networks may have better coverage in rural areas, so check locally to see which are the better options for where you live.

Buying a mobile phone - which brands should you avoid?