FairPhone’s mission is to bring a fair smartphone to the market – one designed and produced with minimal harm to people and planet.
The current supply chain (from mineral extraction to manufacturing) is complicated involving many actors and geographies. Consumer pricing, profit before people and the planet and furious competition has led to pressure in the upstream supply chain, accelerating a race to the bottom. You have to dive deep into and take responsibility for the end supply chain that traditional companies have largely avoided until advocacy groups pressured them to do so. This includes issues like conflicts around mineral mining in Congo, poor working conditions in factories from Mexico to China, and the current business models that create “designed for the dump” models to sell more of these products when our planet is already reaching its limits. Designing and creating fair electronics can be a force of change and an attempt to curb current consumption models that fail to measure the environmental and social costs of production.
It takes partnership and collaboration from numerous stakeholders with expertise, knowledge and networks to achieve this goal.
We take this as a design challenge, that’s why we’ve decided to start with making a fair-(er) phone ourselves and learn from other initiatives and adopting best practice then we can find and translate what we’ve learned into a tangible product.
In order to design, create and market a fair(er) phone we have to understand the system around it.
This includes identifying current limitations and opportunities while coming up with better solutions, thereby fundamentally changing them. We know we can’t change the system overnight as a small player with little leverage, but we think we have to make it tangible by raising awareness and making step-by-step interventions. We want our consumers and other stakeholders to play an active role on this journey, share their ideas, and participate in the decision points that we will need to make.
FairPhone is a step-by-step journey
This way the phone also becomes a storytelling artifact, and as it tells the story we want it to create dialogue between all the stakeholders, from policy maker to consumers, from designers to marketeers, and it is already happening. It sheds light on the “dark matter” and makes us understand what actions are needed to change the system that produces our phones. The phone becomes a political object, in which we have to balance the interests of all stakeholders and come to a shared value.
FairPhone is the start of a movement for change much more than the end solution for a problem. Taking a step-by-step approach, FairPhone aims to make the story behind the production of electronics more transparent, raising the bar for the industry and giving consumers a choice for fairer electronics.