Doing the work that I do with reuse, running STAY VOCAL, and traveling a lot, a cell phone makes it a million times easier. I also strongly believe in knowing what I’m paying for. After all, every dollar we spend is like a vote, right? And seeing that Sprint is ranked as the #3 greenest company among the 500 largest publicly traded corporations in the US, I figure it’s a no-brainer that I choose them as my provider. But over time I realized it’s not just about their low greenhouse gas emissions, electronic waste reduction, and sustainable devices. I’ve personally had a few experiences that shows they’re a corporation with a conscious. Yep. They can exist.
In 2011, I decided to finally upgrade my phone that I had for five years. It was an awesome phone, but technology does advance. Plus, I think three years with a cracked screen was enough. So, I looked into my options and decided on the Samsung Replenish, which was the most eco friendly smart phone at the time; made of recycled materials with eco friendly packaging. But as a passionate reuser I wanted to get a pre-owned one, even if it meant buying one versus getting a new one for free, as the Sprint pre-owned selection was very limited at that time. After contacting several people at Sprint about my situation and jumping through some hoops, I was finally able to get a refurbished Replenish at no cost. Win!
After using the Replenish for almost two years I realized that I needed to upgrade again, as I was doing more and more work on my phone and technology was getting way better. And this past May, when I knew that my Reuse documentary and filming tour were a reality, I knew I had to get a different phone. So, after doing some research, I settled on the Samsung Galaxy series, but unfortunately, pre-owned versions weren’t available as upgrades.
But after my positive experience before (and the assumption that Sprint’s green department might be into my documentary idea), I decided to reach out again. So, through a little research online, I found out who was in charge of their Green Twitter account and got in touch with them.
That person was Darren Beck and I sent him an email about my situation. I explained that I was a longtime customer who was passionate about reusing, that I was due for a free upgrade, that I had decided on the Galaxy and that I was willing to pay for one if it meant I could get a pre owned version. And of course I mentioned the documentary.
The next day, I not only got an email from Darren saying that he would get me a refurbished phone, but that it would be free! Double win! But I guess it only makes sense that if I could get a new phone for free, I should be able to get a refurbished one for free too.
When I headed out on the first half of my documentary filming tour, I decided to stop at the Sprint Campus in Overland Park, Kansas. I wanted to thank Darren in person, plus I wanted to see for myself what was making this huge company so “green.”
While our visit at Sprint was a brief one on the way back from a filming session, my videographer Ali and I quickly learned a few more reasons why Sprint was ranked so high in green. After eating lunch, Darren took us behind the scenes in the cafeteria, where their paperboard is ground up and, along with food, turned into compost; some of which ends up back on the campus. I’ve definitely never seen that.
Also, their sprinkler systems are on sensors so they won’t turn on if it’s raining. And that day, it was absolutely pouring on us! It definitely wasn’t the day to be riding the campus bikes around.
So sure, Sprint still makes a lot of new phones and a lot of new accessories just like the other companies. But unlike most companies their size, they’re taking steps to better the planet where they can. That’s what I like and that’s why I’m comfortable giving them some of my hard earned money each month.
I was also happy to hear that they are actively expanding the pre-owned section of their store and constantly finding more sustainable ways to make their products and packaging too. They’re making it easier for people like me to share ideas on how to do even more for the planet.
Since my visit in July, I’ve thought of a lot more ways that Sprint could bring reuse into their business and campus and I’d love to see them find a way to just reuse the phones already here to make new ones. So who knows, maybe I can help them expand their reuse efforts and help our planet stay connected AND protected.
*** In a recent update, the phone that I was sent for the tour was starting to go a little crazy and not functioning properly. The person at a Sprint store in California I went to suggested that I get a new replacement because I had the protection plan. I decided to reach out to Darren again since he knows and supports my passion for reuse. Once again, he came through big time and I was sent a replacement refurbished phone. And this time, it was a more recent model to make my work even easier; like writing and publishing this blog post. I even took some time to add a temporary back cover design. (See below.)