Smart Phones are Fair Phones: Fair Trade Ethics Coming to Mobile Devices


Sure, you probably need the newest iPhone for some reason or another, but have you considered whether or not your smart phone is Fair Trade?

They seem harmless enough, if not downright necessary. Can you even name one person you know who doesn’t own a smart phone? They’re more prevalent than landlines ever were. Can you remember when payphone booths were like, things on streets people actually used? We’re such a savvy future culture these day. If only we were civilized, too.

Today’s communications happen via smart phone technology—be they texts, Tweets, Snapchats instant messaging, or yes, even the occasional phone call (kids, ask your parents). But at what cost?

According to The Conversation, mobile phones contain “rare minerals that are often linked with violent conflicts, and many of them are produced in “difficult conditions by low-paid factory workers.” Kinda ruins the mood for a selfie just a little bit. “Part of the problem is that we really feel like we have no choice but to buy a phone.” The Conversation asks, “Can we realistically expect to ‘go without’ a phone, when our work, family and friends expect us to be available at all times? And when our carrier invites us to upgrade our phone for next to nothing every two years, what incentive do we have to slow down?”

We may no longer have the option of foregoing smart phones altogether, but we can opt for a smarter phone, like the Fairphone, which has emphasized its production process as its sole marketing strategy.


While not yet available in the U.S., Fairphone is picking up momentum in Europe. The first production run sold out completely (a meager 25,000 of the 1.7 billion phones sold last year, but it’s a step in the right direction). And the company is excited by the potential. The trend has even caught on a bit with Motorola and it’s “Ara” phone, “their attempt to provide a less destructive alternative,”  notes The Conversation. “The Ara phone is modular, meaning that people can use 3D printers from their homes to replace core technological components as needed and switch aesthetic parts such as the housing at leisure.”

Technology is moving our communication devices forward by leaps and bounds. It’s only a matter of time before our ethics catch up and impractical, wasteful smart phone devices go the way of phone booths too.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Images via gizmag

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is the senior editor and featured columnist on EcoSalon and sister site Organic Authority. Jill’s writing has been featured in The Village Voice, MTV, Reality Sandwich and Global Rhythm as well as the anthologies “Towards 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age” (2009, Tarcher/Penguin) and “What Do You Believe?” (2009, Outside the Box). A focus on food policy, veganism, wellness, music and world cultural expressions, Jill blends the mystical and modern as she explores what our shifting food, fashion, culture and creative landscapes will look, sound and taste like in the future. Jill spent more than a decade as a sales and marketing manager in the natural foods industry and regularly consults with and supports emerging brands and organizations in creative communication, social media and event production. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and future foodie, their daughter Imogene. Twitter @jillettinger |