Adventures in Greening: a smarter phone


By Catherine Moran

Happy September, greenies! I love the change in season from summer to fall, not just because the boiling heat and humidity of summer disappear, but because autumn always holds a sense of possibility, a charged feeling that lays hidden beneath every falling leaf…maybe that’s just me.

To preface this week’s topic, I’ll share a quick story. I was gifted with my first iPod when I was a sophomore in college. It lasted me a solid five years, but, one day, the left earbud stopped working. I thought it was my headphones, so I bought a new set. That wasn’t the problem, however. Despite the fact that I took impeccable care of my music player, a mechanism within the iPod had blown, and I listed it for sale on eBay as damaged. I had a feeling there was a way to fix the problem, but I had no idea how, so I cut my losses and bought a new iPod (when this one goes, I’m taking it in to some tech wizards and having them replace that faulty part, if possible. You’re not getting me again, Apple.)


Last week, I saw something interesting come across my dashboard on tumblr: a video for an as-yet nonexistent product called Phonebloks. The darned thing nearly blew my mind! This is the first time I’ve ever lusted after a piece of technology.


Before I begin to gush, here’s the video (you can skip my gushing and just watch the video, if you so choose).

Awesome, right?! The concept behind the Phonebloks phone is that every piece of the phone can be easily replaced. Camera function stops working? No problem, recycle it out and replace it with just that piece. Want to have more memory for your music, and don’t want to bother with a camera? Get a larger memory piece and forget the camera piece, or just get a smaller camera. Basically, it’s Legos for phones.


This sort of phone would mean that planned obsolescence­­ would have to hit the road. Planned obsolescence, to share the sad truth, is the planned design, by manufacturers, for a product to break after a certain amount of time. Yes, your smartphone and music player WILL break eventually, because that’s the way the company will get you to buy another one. Gross, right? Well, with Phonebloks, no longer would we have to buy a whole new (or secondhand) phone just because one function went caput. Take that, The Man!


There could be some drawbacks to Phonebloks. A tech savvy friend (not me, obviously) remarked that the phone might be a bit heavier than today’s standard smartphone, to account for all of the pieces, and would be slightly larger as well. It might also have a shorter battery, but these seem like small sacrifices in the long run.

I’m all for this, and would scoop up a Phonebloks phone immediately: so long, iPhone.


Help spread the word about the project by visiting the site and sharing on social media.

Adventures in Greening is a column running on every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter @folowbredcrumbs, or check out her excellent book blog.

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2 thoughts on “Adventures in Greening: a smarter phone

  1. Sean says:

    This is a fantastic idea, particularly for those of us who aren’t concerned with having the “newest” thing, just something that WORKS.

  2. Barbara says:

    I love this writer- such enthusiasm in everything she writes. She inspires me! Thank you Catherine!

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