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December 3, 2008

Saving with the environment

BARCELONA, Spain – Would you buy a phone over the counter, if it didn’t come in a box? That’s just one of the ideas the environmental people at Nokia are looking at, taking the move to smaller, more efficient, packaging to its very logical conclusion. I don’t think it’d work myself, but I’ve no doubt we’ll end up somewhere between that and the packs we currently see shipping.

Kirsi Sormunen heads up environmental affairs at Nokia and she also told us Nokia is looking at shipping products without chargers. The charger is one of the biggest factors when it comes to packaging, particularly in the UK where chargers are naturally big. Since reducing the size of product packaging, Nokia has effectively taken 12,000 trucks off the road, used 100 tonnes less paper and saved €470million. These changes don’t happen fast though. There are still a number of products shipping in the older, larger packs, but the change is happening.

Thinking about the environment doesn’t just mean physical things though. With the move towards services there are increasing opportunities to the right thing by the planet. was recently launched, using content from Lonely Planet and WWF. It’s designed to help people with sustainable tips and advice on living and traveling in a greener way. It also enables users to share their own experiences.

The trend for ethical consumption is rapidly gathering pace in the public conscience and Sormunen doesn’t see that Nokia has a choice in responding to it. In fact, she believes it needs to be driving it citing the car industry as an example of what works and what doesn’t. “Toyota had the courage to be visionary, just look at where the US auto industry is right now, and where they’ve come from” Sormunen says, suggesting that those who don’t drive the change in attitude, will be the ones who suffer in the long term. Consequently, she believes technology can actually be used to help the environment, seeing it much more as an enabler.

I’ve definitely noticed, at least amongst my peers, the increasing trend for people to want to live a more ethical life. Right now though, I think the issues surrounding environment, sustainability and ethical living exist in tandem to our regular lives. For things to change, those issues need to form an influence in every part of our life, and exist front and centre in our conscience. Nokia is doing what it can to make the changes it needs to make, but with 60,000 people involved, it’ll take time. I fear though, for the rest of us, it’ll take even longer.