In the race to own the newest, thinnest, coolest phones as they hit the market, there are a lot of things we forget to consider. Like who's actually making these phones? Do you even know what they're made from?
Fairphone is an Amsterdam-based operation that is attempting to make phone production more "fair" through mining, design, manufacturing, longer phone life cycles and social entrepreneurship. This includes operating transparently to inform consumers, sourcing conflict-free materials when possible, hiring employees with safe working conditions and fair pay, and creating repairable phones with a longer lifespan that encourage longer-term phone ownership.
Did you realize that the tungsten and gold used in your current phone was probably mined and smelted in a country like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where profits pay for violent armed conflict? No thanks.
Currently, there are 60,000 Fairphone owners, many of which are vocal about how much they love their Fairphones, but none of them reside in the U.S. Unfortunately, the Fairphone is currently not available outside of Europe, but the company has plans to expand in 2016, but we don't know where yet.
This month, Fairphone announced that 17,418 people preordered a Fairphone 2, raising almost 9 million Euro to meet the company's crowdfunding goals. The new phone is meant to be dissembled and repaired, giving it a much longer lifespan than models by other companies like Apple and Motorola.
"We are excited about the potential the new Fairphone 2 has to change the electronics industry and the way products are made!" says Fairphone's Public Engagement Officer Daria Koreniushkina. "Almost 80,000 Fairphone buyers have already voted with their wallets for a fairer, more sustainable economy. The more consumers show their demand for ethical and long-lasting products, the more inspiration they create for the entire industry to improve social and environmental standards in the value chain."
Phones are such a huge part of the world today, and Fairphone seems poised to make them a much more positive part of our economy and society. Here's hoping they succeed - and bring their phones to the U.S. stat!