This is the first of one of my new regular Eco Technology features which I will hopefully be repeating once a month along with my natural beauty, eco living and natural food posts. Gadgets and smartphones have become an important part of lives but are also related to the constantly changing fashions as much as the clothes that we wear. So today I am posting about Fairphone, a smartphone that puts social values first.
Almost everyone owns a Smartphone but that I have become increasingly aware of the ethical and sustainability issues surrounding them in recent months. Just one of the issues with mobile phones is the upgrade market which constantly encourages us to chuck out our old phones and start again with the latest model. Whilst there is quite a healthy recycled market for mobile phones many are sent to countries like Indonesia and Africa and being of dubious quality quickly becomes obsolete, if they aren’t already. Those working in the recycling industries abroad are often overworked, underpaid and poisoning themselves to death.
Whilst there are hugely positive aspects to the use of mobile phones around the world including greater democracy, improved communication and improved public health, there is also a altogether more sinister side to mobile phones. Ethical Consumer reports on how
In the remote, mineral-rich Kivu region of eastern Congo, global demand is fuelling a thriving but extremely bloody trade in the raw materials used to produce mobiles.
The area’s recent past is a catalogue of suffering and violence, with armed groups battling for economic, political and military control. These rebel militias (and increasingly, the Congolese national army) have gained control of lucrative mining networks rich in minerals such as cassiterite (tin ore) and coltan – crucial to the manufacture of electronic goods.
In retaining their strangleholds, the groups have visited horrific human rights abuses on civilian families. Reports by Global Witness, the UN and others have documented widespread abuses including mass rape, murder, extortion and forced labour, child soldier recruitment and population displacement.
You can check out the Ethical Consumer mobile phone guide here, which gives full information about all of the ethical and environmental issues surrounding mobile phones.
Unable to cope without smartphones and mobile devices, even the most ethical of shoppers has faced no choice other than to buy from one of the brands which supports this destructive industry. So I was really interested to hear about an alternative that has just launched ….
FairPhone – The Worlds First Ethical Mobile Phone
Fairphone is a social enterprise in Amsterdam, which is interestingly being crowdfunded. The phones are ethically manufactured and eco friendly using only conflict free tin and coltan (tantalum). They are also addressing the important issue of e-waste with recycling coalition Closing The Loop to buy discarded scrap from affected areas, processing what can be safely recovered locally and shipping the rest to professional recyclers in Europe. They are also working to forge long-term relationships with suppliers to ensure good working conditions. They are also working towards complete transparency with a price breakdown that enables you to know exactly where the phone’s components come from.
They have already sold 6263 phones and raised 125% of their goal with just 6 days to go so it definitely looks like the project is going to be a goer! The phone is Android OS with a touch screen and a 8 megapixel Plus 1.3 megapixel camera. Plus it has lots of other techy features which I don’t have the slighest bit of interest in, you can check out their website for more information if you are a gadget geek!
I think it looks cool and hopefully by the time my iphone stops working there will be some more reviews on how well it works so I can seriously consider whether to get one. What do you think would you consider swapping your iphone in for a FairPhone?
Have a lovely weekend!
With warmest wishes