A few months ago I had a browse through the Soul Action blog and as I read my way through a post it began to get me thinking. The post was “Hey, I like your t-shirt, where does it come from?” which takes you on a journey through all of the people potentially involved in the making of a simple t-shirt. The final estimate was around 25, and that’s probably quite a conservative guess. It reminded me that the story of our products doesn’t simply begin when we take them off the shelves. There are real people involved in the manufacture of our stuff: unique fingerprints that have made their mark, and it’s important we consider the way these people have been treated before we choose to buy.
So that’s why I launched The Fingerprint Project, which aims to get mobile phone manufacturers using Fairtrade gold in their phones. The technology industry is potentially the fastest moving and most competitive in today’s world, which means that the demand for materials is sky high. Sadly this means many of the mining communities who live in places where gold is sourced for phones are often not treated fairly. The lack of regulation over gold mining has knock-on effects such as unfair pay, poor health and safety, and environmental damage. Together, these factors leave communities trapped in a cycle of poverty, unable to support themselves and highly dependent on manual labour.
The amazing thing is that it doesn’t have to be this way at all. Fairtrade certified gold ensures that certain standards are met which make a lasting difference in these mining communities. Miners are treated with dignity and paid fairly for their work. Health and safety standards are set up which puts the welfare of the miners first. Mining is carried out in an environmentally sustainable way. And on top of that, finance is also invested into local education, medical care, and environmental projects.
All of this can be done at a tiny additional cost averaging 3 pence per phone. As a consumer, that’s a price I’m more than willing to pay if it means I can be proud of the fingerprints on my phone. What else can I buy for 3p that makes such a lasting difference? Fairtrade gold in technology is a very real possibility, as is being proven by the awesome Fairphone who are very close to making this a reality.
This campaign is all about using our voice as consumers to tell manufacturers that ethical products are important to us. We are the market that companies are looking to appeal to, so the more we communicate with them the more they should respond. And that’s what the campaign is aiming to do. In signing up to our campaign, you get the chance to send an email directly to the people who make your phone, telling manufacturers that ethical products are important to us and asking them to use Fairtrade gold.
At the end of August we’re going to send these emails out on mass, so the more of us who sign up, the bigger noise we’ll make. Why not mark your fingerprint and add your voice to the campaign right now?