Cell phones are notoriously dirty gadgets. It's partly about the constant recharging, which results in a fairly substantial amount of greenhouse gasses in the air. It's also about the manufacturing materials that go into the beloved little devices: Arsenic, PVC, brominated flame retardants, zinc, lead and phthalates are just a handful of the toxic substances that leach into our water when a cell phone hits the landfill -- and into our air if it ends up in the incinerator.
Lots of major cell-phone manufacturers are making very public efforts to go greener, and one of the most impressive displays is Samsung's Blue Earth Solar Phone. In Blue Earth, Samsung eliminated several toxic materials, including brominated flame retardants and phthalates, and built the casing from both renewable and recycled plastic. And the big draw: the integrated solar panel. Expose the panel to one hour of sun for 10 minutes of talk, and to 12 hours of sun (a much taller order) for a full four hours of chatting. Samsung says the solar panel increases the phone's energy efficiency by 34.6 percent [source: Miller].
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the solar-powered Blue Earth is that it's not skimpy on technology: This green-ish phone has a full-color touchscreen. It also has a built-in "Eco-walk" pedometer function that counts your steps and tells you how much CO2 you're saving by walking instead of driving.
The Blue Earth should be available for purchase in Europe by the end of 2009 [source: LaGesse]. No word yet on the American release.
Next up: Further greening of an already green solution.