Sustainability and consumer electronics aren’t always comfortable bedfellows, with gadgets and their accessories contributing massively to e-waste while as consuming vast amounts of energy in their production, shipping and operation. Let’s look at our pick for sustainable gadget of the year.
That can leave those of us who want to live on a clean, green and non-hot planet feeling very uncomfortable about buying and using such products. Thankfully, manufacturers have started to make a more concerted effort towards a sustainable future; some more than others, yes, but the outlook is a lot rosier (or greener) than it was a decade ago.
This year, in light of this slow but vital shift, we’ve dedicated a new award to the most sustainable gadget around – a piece of tech that you can buy and use without feeling guilty about your purchase.
Sustainability award winner: Fairphone 5
The smartphone equivalent of the Ship of Theseus concept (or Trigger’s broom, if you’re an Only Fools and Horses fan), the Fairphone 5 is built to be rebuilt. The company’s most repairable phone to date, almost every element of this handset is replaceable – and replaceable by the owner rather than the maker or some cash-grabbing middleman licensed agent. The Fairphone 5’s screen, battery, camera sensors and more can be swapped in for fresh versions when required, and the SIM tray and SD card storage slot are easily replaceable too. The company also guarantees that buyers will be able to make at least five OS upgrades to the stock Android 13 platform on which the phone runs.
We’re massive fans of Fairphone’s ethical approach, which extends to paying all its workers and suppliers a living wage bonus and using fair-mined and recycled materials where possible. And the phone itself is pretty lovely too, with IP55 water resistance (not bad for a non-sealed repairable handset) and a lovely OLED screen alongside solid performance.
Highly commended: Apple Watch SE/Series 9/Ultra 2 Carbon Neutral
Apple has long been a proponent of sustainability, but it’s gone a step further with its new Apple Watch models. In a first for the company, these products are available in case and strap combinations (an aluminium case with any of the new Sport Loop straps) that make them entirely carbon neutral. Apple says it’s achieved this through innovations in design, engineering and operations, allowing it to reduce emissions from electricity, materials and transport use – and claims it will go further by making its entire product line carbon neutral by 2030.
Shortlisted: Nokia Nokia G22 and G42 5G (iFixit self-repair)
Repair specialist iFixit is involved with HMD Global’s latest Nokia devices, enabling you to buy spare parts and fit them yourself. It’s fairly easy to replace parts like the battery – though it isn’t tool-free – and you’ll need to buy the parts of course. HMD guarantees the parts will be available through iFixit for five years,