Posts Tagged ‘open source’

conflict-free smartphone

Between signing up for a two-century-long cell contract and buying a smartphone, it seems as though purchasing a mobile device is laden with guilt. Many contain metals from conflict areas and are assembled where working conditions are poor, so looking for a green and socially conscious alternative can seem like an epic quest into researching each step along the supply chain. Now, an international team of developers have created the Fairphone, the world’s first open-source, conflict-free smartphone.

The Fairphone runs on the Android Jellybean 4.2 platform and contains dual SIM cards, a Mediatexk 6589 chipset, and possesses 16 GB of internal memory. Dragontrail glass keeps the touch screen free of scratches, and two 8MP cameras are able to take pictures from the front and rear. As an open-source device, the phone can be programmed by those who are familiar with Firefox and Ubuntu code. Even more importantly, Fairphone works with organizations in Rwanda, Indonesia, and Zambia. They have partnered with groups such as Solutions for Hope, the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative, Action Aid, and Friends of the Earth. Each comes with a Bill of Materials that lets the consumer know where each material has come from. The units are assembled in China at a factory where a fund has been created to improve worker wages and comply with environmental regulations.

The company’s ultimate goal is to have a phone that is made completely from recycled materials. Until that day, they have committed to reclaiming old, obsolete devices. Each Fairphone can either be donated or sold back, and for every one purchased the company contributes €3 to removing waste from Ghana. The Fairphone costs €325, and although it is currently only available for sale in Europe, its success could set a new standard for tech giants around the globe. Of the 20,000 machines already built, half have already been claimed. In a world where e-waste, social welfare, and environmental health challenge even the most well-intentioned of consumers, it is heartening to see a group of people willing to create a product that cares for both people and the planet.

Fashion is a strange and fickle animal.   Styles come and go, value and craftsmanship vary across brands, and artistic taste travels alongside industry and business.  Major names and style houses tend to dominate the landscape and many cases reach across global markets.  In the shoe industry, sweatshop work conditions, social and environmental exploitation, and outsourcing of labor have become the accepted practice of footwear giants such as Nike and Adidas. Thankfully, there are alternatives for those who want to stand up to the culture of rampant consumerism and still sport a quality pair of kicks.

Blackspot Shoes from Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters lets you have some pride in your stride.  Created by the popular magazine, the brand is open-source and can be used by anyone, free of charge and copyright laws.  The shoes themselves are made of hemp, vegan leather, recycled tires, and produced in fair-trade factories.  Blackspot come in either a classic sneaker or boot design, created by John Fluevog and hand-painted with a large spot.  They are compliant with vegan standards and are monitored by Robin Webb of Vegetarian Shoes in the UK. Each pair is part of limited or small runs, ensuring quality and integrity.

Currently, all Blackspot shoes are fabricated in Addah, Pakistan by Talon Sports where workers receive an eight hour day with fair pay, overtime, vacation, breaks for lunch and prayer, sick leave, and opportunities to advance within the company.  Talon is governed by an elected body that offers micro loans and medical services.  Fifteen percent of the price of Blackspot shoes go to a fund dedicated to improving the living conditions of the workers and their families.

Blackpots are available online, or at a number of independent retailers worldwide in order to bypass industry conglomerates and foster a network of grassroots businesses committed to sustainability.

 

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