My phone is getting old. I’ve had it for exactly two and a half years and it is already considered old. Maybe even stone age to some people. Sometimes the alarm function won’t work (getting to school on time every day is a blessing) and the touch-function just crashes sometimes. Now, why is this? Is it made to break down after a certain amount of time? Obviously I’m not a technology-crazed person who always needs to get the latest version, since probably 4 or 5 later versions have been released since I got mine. I need a working phone, and it is extremely hard to live without one these days. But I would like it to be created by someone who considers the consequences for people and for our planet. Hasn't anyone created just what I need?
Yes, someone has! Fairphone is a company based in Amsterdam that currently develops and sells a cellphone, a fairphone. The company calls themselves a social enterprise, since their main focus is to create social impact and create fairer economies. Producing a phone is just one means to affect consumer and producer behavior in one sector. In this case they are using the phone to understand the underlying economy and the systems behind it.
The phone looks like any other smartphone, black and rectangular with a big display and a camera. However, the components in the fairphone are carefully thought out. The phone is built to last a long time, as maintenance is possible and parts can be replaced. Fairphone works with making the mining process as fair as possible, such as improving working conditions for miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Manufacturing the phone in China is a business where many people have terrible working conditions. Fairphone is trying to change that. And they are very honest with the fact that everything is currently not possible to create in the fair way that they would like. This is a quote from their fact sheet:
“We want to be completely transparent in all of our achievements, including the areas where we have not yet made progress. Part of our goal is to stimulate discussions about fairness and what it means. As the definition varies from person to person, a 100% fair phone is in fact unachievable. But it is certainly possible to make products fairer than they currently are”
This strikes a chord with me. Honesty and openness is something we value in close relationships, why shouldn’t we value it in the relationship between consumer and producer as well? I think and hope that this is the only way to go for companies in the future. That companies who cannot give honest answers where their components are manufactured or harvested will be overthrown by companies that can show that they’re fair. Fair is the future.