Billions of people around the world own cellphones that only last a couple years at best before getting sent to the landfill. The worst part is that the materials used in the production of these quasi-disposable devices are oftentimes sourced from unethical and unsustainable sources. But what option do we have, if putting down the phone is out of the question?
Fairphone is exactly what it sounds like, a fair phone. Standing up for people and the environment in every aspect of its production and existence, the social smartphone enterprise is taking our most integral modern electronic device and starting a movement. Evolved from an open design project started at Waag Society, an Amsterdam-based institute for art, science and technology that develops creative technologies for social innovation, the Fairphone is the embodiment of their values: making the choice to use only conflict-free tin and tantalum from the DR Congo, to assemble in factories in China that are committed to ethical worker welfare and to ship in small and sustainable boxes. It also has a rootable operating system, replaceable battery, dual SIM card, 8MP camera and is chock-full of innovations to make it perform better and last longer without compromises. It doesn’t end there: addressing the full life-cycle of electronics, they have committed €3 of each Fairphone to go towards removing e-waste from Ghana and recycling efforts. The next step: making Fairphone from entirely recycled materials.
This is another facet of ‘fixer’ movements and groups that go beyond recycling, paying attention to what happens to a product after it stops doing what it was made to do. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is facing retirement.