If you’ve ever looked inside a computer or even seen a picture of what’s inside, you’ve seen the intricate jigsaw of metals that somehow end up being compiled into computer. The metals that allow your computer to run, as you may imagine, aren’t the ordinary metals that we use to build bridges and manufacture abstract furniture. In fact, they are quite the contrary. The precious metals that are necessary for you to send an email or watch a movie are extremely difficult to obtain, especially in the large amounts that companies like Apple, Dell, and Samsung need them. So, these companies go to almost any extent they can to get them. Often, this means crossing socially unethical boundaries that may deter you from buying their products. Some examples are child labor, and trading with warlords. You probably don’t want to be a part of this. Unfortunatly, the truth is, its pretty much impossible to find electronicts that don’t have a dark back story. That is, unless you’re in the market for a new phone.
In 2010, the Waag Society began a project to tackle the issue of making a globally just phone. One that, for example, isn’t funding wars in the DRC. Three years later, the Fairphone has entered production. It is truly a supply chain revolution. The Fairphone runs on Android, and is created completely under the goal of setting social values first, while maintaining the quality of a successful product. The project has been funded partially through crowdfunding and aims to redefine the global supply chain. This means ethical sourcing, improving working conditions, and working on using recycling materials.
So far, 20,000 Fairphones have been produced, over 11,000 sold. Obviously, this is only a glimpse of the market compared to the millions of other phones and computers that are being sold, but its a great start.