How Eco-Friendly are Smartphones and Tablets?

Image courtesy of ADT Home Automation

We now live in a world that we are becoming more aware of the impact we make on the environment. Global warming is changing the climate. Habitats and the animals living in them are disappearing. We are concerned with the impact of our habits such as recycling and driving. What about the technology you’re using to read this on?

Are our phones and tablets as eco-friendly as we might believe?

Manufacturing and Corporations

If you’re looking at the corporations behind tech manufacturing, then the answer is definitely no. Most of the parts used in our technology are made in the Far East because of cheap labor and manufacturing efficiencies. Tech companies are well known to take advantage of these situations, using unethical labor and mining practices to get the job done quick and cheap.

Recent years have seen companies called out on unethical and illegal practices, such as using child labor. Major carrier AT&T has created an eco-rating system for their phones. Organizations, such as Greenpeace, have started similar lists of tech companies who they consider “green” due to how they source their parts and what type of labor practices are used.

Digital Media vs. Print

If you look at the reduced carbon footprint from switching from print to digital media, then modern technology is eco-friendly. Recent years have found us using our phones and tablets more to consume books and music. Printing off web pages has gone down with apps that can clip and save articles and eBooks are perhaps more popular than print books. Even the music industry has gone greener with downloads rather than making CDs.

Businesses, large and small, are turning to technology to reduce their footprint. Receipts can be sent to our emails instead of pieces of paper cluttering our bags and wallets. Bank statements can be offered online, and many banks provide apps to check our accounts. It costs quite a bit in resources to build a tablet or phone, but what they save in providing instant digital media seems to balance out.


Are smartphones and tablets eco-friendly? Probably not as much as we think they do. On one hand, digital media has reduced the carbon footprint of books, articles, and music drastically. However, tech companies still need to change how they source materials and use ethical labor practices. For the time being, it seems instead of the scales tilted towards being greener, technology has balanced itself out.

If you want more information about technology and the environment, check out some of our awesome articles here!