The campaigners worked hard to raise consciousness and change the minds of phone users. They established workshops that explained the complexities and horrors of a smartphone supply chain and encouraged the public to imagine what a fairer phone would be. But after two and a half years, apple, samsung and other giants kept exploiting and polluting. So the awareness campaign decided to do something a little different. They tried to make a fairer phone. This is the story of that phone. How it’s made whether it’s actually a good phone and whether it’s actually a sustainable solution to the phone industry? This video is sponsored by curiositystream, which now comes with nebula for free when you sign up using the link in the description. The fairphone now in its third iteration, is doing something remarkable it’s, foregrounding sustainability and ethical labor practices throughout the phone’s whole life cycle, a feat which fairphone co founder miguel baester told me feels a lot like navigating a little bit against the currents of the industry. Miguel and i talked a lot about the company and you can access the entire interview on nebula or patreon when it comes to sustainability in smartphones. There are really four areas to consider: production, modularity, longevity and recyclability. At first glance, fairphone seems to excel in all of these categories when compared to other flagship phones. The fairphone begins in the production stage, where the bulk of the phone’s environmental impact comes from the potential global warming impact of a fairphone 3 is ‘.
5 kilograms of carbon dioxide, equivalent that’s a little over half of the iphone 12’s footprint and of that ‘.5 kilograms. Roughly 81 comes from the production phase, which encompasses mining of materials all the way up to the day it leaves the factory and one of the ways fairphone has been able to drastically cut. Their impact has been transportation. The phone is currently only sold in europe, so the company is able to use trains instead of planes to transport all of their goods. As a result, they’ve reduced the phone’s transportation emissions by 87. Equally, as impressive is the phone’s modularity modularity is where fairphone rises. Above the pack, it takes eight minutes to replace the screen and eight seconds to replace the battery, unlike apple or samsung, the parts that matter aren’t glued down so it’s really easy to get into the phone and switch things out. This modularity was so impressive that ifixit gave the fairphone a 10 out of 10 for repairability, and the new french repairability index awarded the phone, an 8.7 out of 10 docking points for lack of phone blueprints and delivery time of spare parts. But overall, this is markedly better than the iphone 12’s 6 out of 10 score and this modularity matters because, according to a third party life cycle, assessment of the fairphone, the core module of the phone or where the circuit board and the brains of the phone live Accounts for 72 percent of the global warming potential of the whole phone.
This means that if users can just replace a camera part or a battery instead of the whole phone, they can drastically reduce the phone’s footprint. Indeed, one of the philosophies behind the phone is don’t. Buy a new phone buy a new camera because really changing only the camera of your phone is only six percent of the co2 emissions of the whole device. The modular nature of fairphone greatly increases the longevity of the phone, but unfortunately, fairphone still has some work to do in terms of lifespan. At the moment, fairphone provides support to phones up to 5 years old. Their goal is to reach 7 years, but there are factors outside the company’s control like constant hardware and software updates that are making this difficult, we’re swimming against the streams there we’re building a long, lasting phone, that’s monique lempers impact innovation director at fairphone. She goes on to say certain components become end of life before our product becomes end of life, also at software level licenses that we have to find work work around to stretch it’s an incredible challenge, but even after the phone stops, working fairphone is still there. They’Re building out a robust recycling and repair network that seeks to not only breathe life back into broken fairphone parts, but they’re also establishing a recycling program for any phone that you may want to give us. The fairphone itself is made up of 45.1 percent of recycled materials which, on their website, fairphone admits, should be better, especially if one of their end goals is to reach a near zero impact.
But the sustainability future of fairphone looks a little different than just a phone. Mikael says that these steps are building up to what he calls stairphone as a service envisioning the company, not as a phone maker, but something much larger it’s, not so much attached to the hardware that we sell, but to the service that we give to customers. You can serve let’s, say more customers with less everything that we have done in having a product that is repairable and long lasting would even be pushed further right, because the more we would make those devices last longer the the less it would cost us to serve. Every customer, so even after you buy a fair phone, its performance and impact will still be the company’s responsibility, incentivizing them to make the best longest lasting phone a model similar to the glass bottle, deposit systems of old soda companies, in short, compared to apple and samsung Phones, fairphone seems to be one of the most environmentally conscious phones on the market, but if it excels in sustainability, what about the company’s, labor practices? Music, trace? The minerals required for smartphones, like gold, tungsten or tin, back to their source and you’ll, often find yourself in one of the many precious metal mines in the eastern regions of the democratic republic of congo. Mines that were born out of the imperialist resource extraction of the global north and are now used to finance bloody conflicts in the region.
These mines, often employing forced child labor in terrible conditions with paramilitary presence, are what keeps the prices of technology low. In short, the u.s and europe gorge on cheap computers and phones and then dump the true price of electronics onto the majority world in the form of slave labor, gruesome working conditions and bloody wars. In an attempt to make a fairer phone, verphone is diving into their supply chains, head first hoping to change mining conditions and influence other corporations to do the same. Conflict. Minerals are the very reason fairphone began, but because the phone has over 600 700 suppliers relationships change. All the time it’s so in in that context, it’s quite a challenge to build long, lasting relationships and to trace your head. Your sources. Despite this, the company is still making some headway. One way they’ve approached minerals is by building coalitions with other companies to gain leverage over supply chains. Farefund did this with their cobalt alliance initiative for the fair cobalt alliance to to exist. Actually, we could not even make it happen on our own that’s. Also why we had to knock doors and convince the signifies of this world because they have the real volume when it comes to cobalt. So, with the help of larger companies like tesla and signify, fair phone and the fair cobalt alliance claim to be working to assure the eradication of child labor, create ethical working conditions and spur economic diversification of mining communities to lessen their reliance on mineral extraction.
In the democratic republic of congo, further up the supply chain, fairphone recently instigated a living wage bonus for all the employees at their production factory in china. After some research and surveying factory workers on their ideal, wage fairphone found that it needed to raise the price of their phone by 1.5 euros or 0.33 of its sales price to increase the wages, wages that are now the equivalent of four times. The minimum wage of the region, while this is an amazing start, especially compared to the wages apple factory workers, make in china, it should be seen as a start, not the end Music here’s. The thing fairphone is still not as fair as it can be, a fact which the company emits over and over on their website and their founder boss fonable mentions in a podcast. If you want to create a 100 fair phone, you you have to create world peace. First hubble goes on to add, if you want to change the system by becoming part of the system, that means that you’re going to be dictated by that same system to a certain extent, fairphone is doing the best it can in an inherently unethical capitalist imperialist system, Which necessitates low wages, ignoring environmental destruction and exploiting the global south in order to extract maximum profit profit which gets shoved into the pockets of the owning class or funneled back into companies to fuel endless growth in a finite world? Don’T get me wrong.
The fair phone is definitely one of the best options if you need to buy a new phone, but the point here is this: capitalism has now successfully blended the idea of consumerism, with an activist identity, espousing a false narrative that buying ethical clothes or green phones is The way to stop the climate crisis and worker exploitation, the reality is a far cry from this illusion. First, the most sustainable phone is the phone you have in your pocket which, to their credit, fairphone repeats again and again in their videos and blog posts. The most sustainable phone is the one that you have in your pocket, while fairphone did raise wages for their workers. They still have to operate in our current economic system, which means that some amount of value of the labor being produced from fairphone employees and supply chain workers is being siphoned off to investors and the owner class. If systemic change doesn’t occur, fairphone will forever be fighting against the current. For the time being, fairphone is helping to encourage people to care about quality, reparability and ethical practices, it’s a lightning rod for companies and consumers to point at and say hey. We can do better as mikel notes. The phone is an artifact for change, i would say, but in my opinion, to truly create a fair phone. We need to collectively envision an economic system outside of capitalism, one that leans on de growth and eco socialist principles that allows workers to be fully compensated for the value of their labor and accounts for its environmental impacts.
The only way towards this is through movement, building, mutual aid and true collective democracy. Fairphone shows us that there is a better way within right now. It shows us that there’s a way to build and create technologies, with an emphasis on longevity and ethics rather than quick turnarounds and profits. But it seems like they are reaching the edge of capitalism so to find a new frontier to find a place where fairphone doesn’t have to swim upstream, just to be fair, we have to build a new system. Two weeks ago i released a video about eco fascism. It initially did really well and lots of people were sharing it around, but then views started to plateau and it was slapped with an unsuitable for most ads labeled. In short, it seemed like the video was buried, which is one of the reasons why a bunch of creator, friends and i teamed up to create a platform where we can make content without having to worry about pleasing the youtube algorithm, it’s called nebula and we’re thrilled To be partnering with curiosity stream, nebula is an ad free video streaming platform that allows creators to create without having to worry about views or demonetization. Nebula has exclusive content from a wide range of educational youtubers, like polymatter wendover productions and our changing climate that’s right. When you sign up for nebula and curiosity stream, you’ll get access to both the full length interviews that i did with fairphone for this video.
But what does this have to do with curiosity stream? Well, as the go to streaming platform for thousands of top tier documentaries, including a number of great movies about climate change like earth’s survival, curiosity stream loves supporting educational creators. So we worked out a deal where, if you sign up with the link below, not only will you get access to curiosity stream, but you’ll also get nebula for free, and this is not a trial. You’Ll have nebula as long as you’re a curiosity stream member and in an exclusive deal. Curiosity stream is offering 26 off their annual plan that’s less than 14.79 a year for both curiosity stream and nebula. So, by signing up you’ll not only directly support our changing climate, but you’ll also gain access to thousands of documentaries and exclusive are changing climate content. So if you want to support both our changing climate and hundreds of other educational content, creators go to curiositystream.com occ or click the link in the description and sign up for curiosity stream and nebula for just 14.79 per year. That’S 26 off hey everyone, charlie here thanks! So much for watching all the way to the end, if you’ve already signed up for curiosity stream and nebula, you can also support me by becoming an r changing climate patreon. Just pledging one dollar a month gives me the financial stability.