Do you love your Blackberry or iPhone, but worry about the cost to the environment? Do you wonder whether the workers who mined the materials or assembled the device were exploited? Whether your purchase is funding an armed militia in the developing world? Well, no you no longer have to choose between your conscience and the ability to stay connected — the Fairphone, the world’s first ethically-sourced smartphone, was just unveiled in London.
Fairphone has teamed up with NGOs like Solutions for Hope and the Conflict Free Tin Initiative to ensure a traceable supply chain for its tin, tungsten, and tantalum components. Most electronics get these minerals from army-controlled mines in the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo. Fairphone is also working on sourcing fairly-mined cobalt and Fairtrade certified gold for other components.
The Chinese workers who assemble the phone receive the same consideration as those in the mines. A living wage review is currently underway in Fairphone’s factory to ensure that workers will be compensated fairly when the phones begin mass production in November.
The company is also trying to make their phones greener than your typical smartphone. Instead of forcing you to pay for costly repairs, or replace your phone completely if it’s damaged, the Fairphone is designed to easily open up and comes with instructions to help owners repair it themselves.
Right now, the phone is only available for preorders in Europe, where it’s selling for €325. Over 15,000 units have already been ordered for delivery in late autumn, with a planned release in North America and Australia for the second batch of phones. The funding for this run of phones has been completely crowd-sourced through preorders, and any profits will be re-invested into its supply chain.
Images © Fairphone