Grass Concept Phone: Pass or Fail?


Photo via Yanko Design

When I first saw this grass phone concept pop up on Yanko Design's website, I did a half-scoff, a "yeah, sure," and clicked the red X on the page tab.

But then I started thinking about it. Would something like this truly be practical? Would it be worthwhile to make a phone like this?

Let's ponder for a moment and then take a poll. What is the market?
This cell phone concept is not necessarily made to last — but then again neither is our mindset when it comes to gadgets. The average cell phone is only in the hands of an owner for about 18 months before it is replaced. There are about 700 million cell phones circulating among Americans right now. So would something like a cell phone made from plant waste be practical?

It seems like a simple cell phone like this would be perfect for people who want a cell phone for emergencies or quick calls, especially if they keep it in a low-impact place, rather than a hip pocket. But it is doubtful it would last even 18 months with someone who texts 24/7 and uses their smart phone as a second computer like iPhoneites.

What about the durability?
If you've ever fed a horse alfalfa pellets, you'll know that compressed hay can be really, really strong. But it certainly wouldn't last forever. An owner would have to be conscientious about the care of their phone during its life cycle. But, hopefully we are anyway. Also, it would be disaster if it were to, say, fall in the toilet or sink — there wouldn't be any drying this thing out and having it rise from the dead. Yet, it would probably be so cheap, a person might not necessarily care.

Another issue is the sustainability.
This particular idea uses hay, but I would think a wide range of plant matter and other recycled/recyclables could be used. As for plant matter, there's only so much plant waste to go around before it becomes unsustainable. With competition for plant waste among cellulosic ethanol plants, landscapers, and a range of other users, added to the fact that millions of cell phones are made each year, it could quickly become yet another burden on the earth to be using so much compostable, good-for-the-soil plant matter for cell phone frames.

And finally, will the biodegradability of the case deter people from recycling them?
It's tough enough to get people to send in their old phones for recycling, and if they think this a more eco-friendly option, perhaps consumers will be less compelled to do the right thing and send it to recyclers. Another issue how would e-waste recycling plants handle these? It could mean an expensive shift in processing. But...even speculating this far for this phone idea seems silly.

There is a definite excitement around the idea of plant matter - or just simply recyclable junk chunks - for casing, and it is most definitely worth a brainstorm session. But pressed hay doesn't seem to be a realistic solution. It seems that for every pro, this concept has some big cons.

Snaps to the creative thinkers on trying to figure out a more eco-friendly phone idea, even though this one doesn't seem to quite hit the nail on the head. Hopefully it sparks more innovative thinking on how we manufacture gadgets.

Time for your two cents - is this a pass or fail idea?

Via Yanko Design
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Tags: Cell Phones | Concepts & Prototypes | Electronics | Gadgets

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