Can items we use every day be more sustainable? Can we, as consumers, promote and invest in more socially conscious products to diversify the marketplace?
Fairphone is a non-profit company that produces phones that are ecologically and socially conscious. They aim to create a positive social impact at each step of production, which includes mining, design, manufacturing, life cycle and social entrepreneurship. They are expanding the market for products that emphasize the importance of ethical working conditions and the use of conflict-free materials.
Fairphone started as a campaign in 2010 within the Waag Society, and later became an independent social enterprise that is based in Amsterdam. The enterprise first began to raise awareness about conflict minerals in everyday electronics, specifically those from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fairphone aims to use minerals that have been responsibly mined and that support local economies.
The non-profit company is focused on contributing to a just human development by operating transparently. By designing a product that is built to last, it allows consumers to purchase a less wasteful cellular phone option that also uses less energy. Fairphone is also developing alternative business models that include ways to extend the life of their products, as well as reusing and recycling old materials. Furthermore, the non-profit company works closely with manufacturers that invest in safer worker conditions and fair wages for their employees.
Over the years, 60 thousand Fairphones have been sold, and the enterprise keeps growing. The enterprise still has many obstacles to overcome to improve its social and ecological standards, but staying transparent throughout the process allows consumers to know exactly what they are buying and have input on progress. After the success of the first Fairphone, the Fairphone 2 was designed, which allows users to easily open and repair the most commonly broken parts of the phone. This social enterprise is a positive step into providing products that tell a story, emphasizing the importance of developing more sustainable products to provide consumers more options.