Tiny Action #2: Battling with my battery percentage

The next few blog posts I feel will all be on a similar topic. Consumption and how we can reduce the amount we consume.

This week: charging phones.

Often it seems like my life is ruled by my phone’s battery percentage.

40% when I am about to leave the house for the day, is that really enough?

Maybe if I don’t take any photos, maybe if I don’t check it constantly, maybe if I turn it off for a bit that would conserve it for a wee while..?

I have fallen for the last option several times and switched it on only to find that the darn thing used a precious 15% switching itself off and on again.

It’s at times like these when I have previously felt that life is against me. What have I done to deserve so little battery when I might need it desperately to Instagram something quirky or check if anyone has texted me between now and 5 minutes ago or message my mum to ask her what’s for tea?

On entering 2016 one of my New Year’s resolutions was to use my phone less.

I even used my phone to Instagram this list.


Slightly unnecessary but then that’s the day and age we live in.

I became aware that my phone’s battery was used up more quickly the more time I spent on it (obvious) but in particular the more time I spent on the internet. When this Tiny Big Blog came along I had the idea that a tiny action us mere mortals could begin to do would be to use our phones less which would mean charging it less regularly thus using less electricity which is always a good thing for the environment. Simples.

Whilst volunteering in Nigeria I didn’t charge my phone everyday like I do in the UK and I used the internet for the grand total of about 2 hours and a half hours in the 2 and a half months that I spent there.

That’s 150 minutes in the 106,560 minutes (74 days) that I was there for.

Being the maths geek that I am I worked out the percentage.

I was on the internet for 0.014% of the time that I spent in Nigeria.

What did I do with my time? I read the 8 books I stuffed into my rucksack plus one I borrowed. I chatted to the locals (admittedly not as much as I should have), I chatted to my roommate, I went exploring cocoa farms with the girls and I played cards and bananagrams.

And I still had fun. Shock horror.

Fast forward to two months later and within the last 24 hours my phone says 90% of its battery has been used on the following:

battery percentage


There are some things you should know before jumping to conclusions about the difference between my usage in Nigeria and the UK


The internet is widely available in Nigeria. We were based in a really rural location and you could still access Faceybee and Twitter and all the rest. At times (and in certain places) it became a little wobbly but then whose internet doesn’t buffer every now and then, especially when you get further away from the modem thingy.


I took two phones to Nigeria. My super cool bright green iPhone for emergencies and a very basic but useful brick phone. Think Nokia 3310. The kind of phone that could only dream of taking pictures let alone being hooked up to the internet. Anyway for one reason or another I therefore couldn’t get internet as the brick was, well, a brick, and the green one didn’t have the correct sim. So, the internet was only available to me when my roommate used her phone as a hotspot for me, not something I liked to rely on, or if I used the team dongle for research.


Just because I was on the internet for 0.014% of my time does not mean that I was using my phone(s) for that amount. My overall phone usage would definitely be a larger percentage but I doubt it’d be anything on my UK usage. I had regular calls from back home and I definitely spent time on my phone(s) but it turns out there really isn’t a lot you can do on an iPhone without access to the internet. I browsed through photos and listened to the 7 songs and a Desert Island Discs podcast with Judi Dench on that I had downloaded on repeat for a few weeks but mostly I did other things.

But my point is that I found that because I wasn’t using the internet my phone battery lasted a lot longer. Granted I had 2 phones but even then, on the weeks where I perhaps had more calls than normal or took more photos than usual I would charge my phones about 4 times a week between them. Absolute maximum.

This may still seem a lot but as I write this my phone has 9% battery. This means I will have to charge it this evening if I want my alarm to go off tomorrow morning. But then I know for a fact that when it reaches 100% in an hour or so I will take it off charge and…

-WhatsApp the crew

-google what that girl in tonight’s TV programme of choice has been in before on IMDB

-spend a good ten minutes editing a photo on Instagram before deciding that, actually, I have posted a photo for the last 3 days consecutively and I don’t want people to think I haven’t got a life

-watch videos of cats, dogs, people falling over, those Justin Bieber dancers etc.

JB dancers 2JB dancers

Photo: YouTube

(Seriously how do they do it? They are so cool)

-stalk friends of friends of friends on Facebook (oh come on, we all do it)

-check how well this blog post has done on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook…

…and before you know it it’s down to 64% by the time I call it a night and head to bed.

But heading to bed is not going to sleep.

Heading to bed is merely changing the location of where I do the above list. I move from the armchair to my bed. Vertical to horizontal.

And so sometimes it can be down to 40% or even 30% when I actually go to sleep. So tomorrow the whole cycle will repeat itself and mean that I end up charging my phone at least once every day.

So to reiterate my thought for this week’s tiny action is that maybe, just maybe, we could perhaps use our phones less.

I am not judging or reprimanding or trying to be condescending or anything like that. I am the worst for instagramming the hell out of anything pretty I see and scrolling down my newsfeed for forever.

But I knew before I left for Nigeria that there is more to life than social media. It’s just now that I know I can survive with only 0.014% of my life taking place attached to the internet that I really plan to act on it.

Still not convinced?

Maths nerds listen up: say I live to the average age of a British female, roughly 81 years, and I continue to charge my phone everyday (just because our grandparents aren’t on their pones all the time doesn’t mean we won’t be at their age) I will charge a mobile device, be that brick or smart phone, 20,440 times.

Granted, I probably won’t but then there will be my children who will, and their children who will unless we start to be a little more aware of how we use our electricity and how we spend our time. Plus the fact that I don’t think I am an anomaly here. In all likelihood at least half of Britain’s current population of 64 million probably go through a similar daily charging routine.

That’s a lot of charging. A lot of electricity used. A lot of the Earth’s resources gone.

phone charging

Photo: lifehack.org

This is not meant to be a lecture.

This is a mission.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to say no to your phone.

Every time you pick up your phone think “what am I using this for?”

Put it down if it’s not that necessary.

*Phones were originally for staying in contact with each other so please don’t text or call your Mum less because of this post. Or switch it off to ignore people.

I will still be messaging, googling and watching pointless videos but from now on I hope to use my phone more effectively and reduce the amount of times I charge my phone by 50%.

How I plan to do this:

– I will make quicker decisions vis-a-vis my Instagram filters

– Once upstairs in the evening I will turn to my book not my phone

– I will actually pay attention to the TV if I am watching it and not be glued to Facebook. This is why I rarely understand why or foresee who is the criminal in Midsomer Murders.


Photo: The Guardian

I will also:

– shut down apps I’m not using

– turn the brightness down on my phone

– try and choose reading, listening, singing, dancing, cooking, chatting, drawing, writing and eating over using my phone


This week I charged my phone at least once every day.

Next week will be different.


N.B Phone battery percentage now down to 5%.


Banner photo: grouphigh.com



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