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 a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.