If you’re of the mind that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, as I am, that cell phone in your pocket is particularly problematic. A 2018 study by Canada’s McMaster University estimated that emissions caused by smartphones would jump from 17 to 125 megatons of CO2 equivalent per year between 2010 and 2020.
It’s actually not the use of the phones that’s causing this massive carbon footprint, but the production — 85 to 95 percent stems from rare-earth element mining and the actual manufacturing of the devices. Which is a good reason to hang on to your phone as long as possible instead of upgrading every year, like Apple and Samsung would love you to. I’ve had my Samsung Galaxy S8 since late 2017, and I feel a smidge less bad about myself for having kept it for so long.
Another way I assuage my liberal guilt is by using Credo Mobile, which is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). That means it doesn’t own the wireless network infrastructure you’re using — which, in this case, is Verizon Wireless. Now, if you’re looking for the cheapest mobile plan, stop reading right now. Credo’s plans start at $35 a month for 1 GB of data and unlimited talk and text if you’re getting your phone through the company. But if you’re a left-leaning individual who wants to feel okay about yourself without exerting much in the way of effort — and, let’s face it, who doesn’t? — stick with me.
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Credo Mobile is a division of Working Assets, a 36-year-old San Francisco-based company that has always dedicated a portion of its revenue — whether it be from credit cards, long-distance phone services, or more recently mobile phone services — to progressive causes. Until the beginning of 2020, Credo ran something called Credo Action, an activism arm. Credo, to its everlasting credit, was one of the few companies that vocally opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq before it happened.
Every month, Credo gives away $150,000 to progressive causes, allowing customers to vote on how the money is split between three nonprofits. As of this writing, it’s between Black Voters Matter, Friends of the Earth Action, and Mercy Corps. In all, Credo reports, it has given away more than $92.2 million over the years. The company is one of Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donors, which has made Credo a target of the right wing — in the form of everything from hate mail to bomb threats — and, in my mind at least, pretty damn noble.
One of the criticisms I’ve seen online regarding Credo Mobile is that it doesn’t give enough — the Working Assets website says that “we donate 1% of your monthly charges to the nonprofits we support” — and that may well be true. But I’d still much rather (over)pay Credo for the privilege of being my mobile carrier than I would AT&T, which has a well-documented history of pouring money into the coffers of conservative politicians and groups. (AT&T, in case you didn’t know, was the largest corporate donor to the inauguration of Donald Trump.)
All this, plus Credo has some of the sunniest customer service representatives I’ve ever encountered. It’s never hard to reach a human being on the support line, and (perhaps this is projection) the reps I’ve spoken to actually seem to radiate kindness, thanking me for my longtime Credo membership and being just plain helpful.
So call me a socialist or a libtard or whatever else passes as an insult among the MAGA crowd these days, but as long as I’m going to participate in society, I’d like to improve it somewhat using Credo. In the meantime, as cool as the Galaxy Z Flip 3 looks, I think I’ll stick with my S8 as long as I can.