Fair Trade Phones

September 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Many worldwide lined up for days outside Apple stores this week, wondering what new technology would be unveiled with the release of the IPhone 5. Others eagerly await phone contracts to expire so they can upgrade to the latest phone of their choice. News coverage shows the excitement or disappointment as the competing brands tinker with the look and features of their products, with experts commenting, comparing the pros and cons of new devices. The technology age sees us connected on a daily basis, through our phones, computers, tablets, consoles and TV’s. How often though do we reflect on how these products get from the beginning of their journey, such as minerals like tantalum, through factories, in countries like China, to the stores in our communities and then into our pockets, homes, businesses or learning institutions.

This talk by Bandi Mbubi is a powerful one. Each of us as humans on a daily basis make choices as consumers. These choices are made through necessity of living in an interdependent world, where needs that we have can be met by the goods or services of others. Whether it be the food that we buy or grow, the homes that we live in, the electricity that we use, the transport that we engage, the way we dispose of waste, the venues where we connect with others or the technology we have or purchase, each choice can have an impact on others within the global village. Historically, these choices connected humans much closer to their community, where as in today’s world we see goods and services being traded, bought and sold throughout all corners of the globe.

In todays cafes and stores, it is common to see Fair Trade coffee, chocolate and clothing in particular. Many other products within various markets carry similar branding, empowering the consumer with information as they make purchases. Those living and working within the developing world can be very vulnerable, encountering hazardous working conditions, limited access to negotiating a better deal and commodities taken and exported without fair compensation for the individual, family, community or country in which it was sourced. Our connection to this example of the Congo by Bandi Mbubi is then growing, with so many of us in the Western world in particular owning and using such technological devices. Each of us is then able to reflect on our own thoughts and actions, including the personal and collective ethical influence we have into the future.

As Bandi Mbubi explains, technology has opened communication and connection channels throughout our global village. We have witnessed, like in the examples he mentions, where text messages have given a voice to those who may not have been heard before. It has also allowed himself and his family the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends who live back in the Congo. These technological advancements have become an important part of the fabric of our society. With all these advancements come responsibilities though, with each of us able to become informed about our ability to make positive differences through our daily thoughts and actions. The little empowered ripples that we make as consumers each day, can develop and inspire the fair world that we wish to live in.

“Fair trade. Would it not be more logical to label unfair products?”
– Loesje


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