Tuesday, 29 December 2015

(A somewhat rephrased) Phone conversation on Ethics

Me - calling the phone company that bills me monthly.
Phone lady - has a professional and warm voice. We talk about mundane bureaucracy stuff, and before we are about to finish the conversation, she asks with a loving voice: "is there anything else I can do for you?"

Me: yes, actually. I wonder if you have any offers on smartphones?
Lady: is there any particular features that you would like to have in the phone?
Me: I don't think any of the new phones do not have all the apps and functions I use. But most of all, kind of, I would like it to be sustainable.
Lady: like, you do not want it to break if you drop it on the floor?
Me: no, I want to make sure that all parts produced to make this phone are sustainably made.
Lady: you mean that you want to put components together to build your own phone?
Me: certainly not. I want to make sure that all the people who have been working with manufacturing all the components that eventually become a phone have gotten a fair pay and have been treated ethically. I want the phone to be ethically made.
Lady: I think I follow you...
Me: I never remember the name of the precious metal that is utvunnet from mining, but I have read that people are treated like slaves...
Lady: let me get back to you. (Pause of like three minutes.) To find out this, you can contact the manufacturer. I hope you find a phone that is... that way.

1. Coltan is the metal I could have had in mind (I recall there are more problematic metals). Known to some as a conflict mineral, coltan is a desired substance that exploits Congo. As for the slavery: read this Huffington-post article. Wikipedia also has an article on this, that is not completely reviewed.

As for other precious metals: 41 phones = 1 g of gold. (Source: Urban mining.)
This blog
claims that 1% of all phones are recycled. If you do not opt for a fairphone - please, at least recycle your old one. Some shops even offer you money for this.

There is one phone like this - Fairphone. To get one, you have to register your order about six months in advance and costs you like 5,000 SEK. Less than the latest brand of any phone, anyhow. One can also purchase a phone secondhand - then at least no new components have been produced.

3. A salesperson is instructed to not use negative words. I know, my friend worked at customer service. (But how come the lady did not know the term SUSTAINABLE???)

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