Technology

I have to confess complete ignorance about what goes into the technology that I’ve learnt to rely on. However I’m reading more and more about conflict minerals and it is shocking. We treat mobile phones as something to upgrade as soon as possible, with little awareness about what has gone into their creation – would we value them more and use them until they die if we knew more? I hope so.

Raise Hope for Congo has researched the use of conflict minerals, extensively mined in Congo. Check our their rankings of the largest electronics companies on their efforts toward using and investing in conflict-free minerals in their products here and buy from those companies who are taking action. Enough has launched action on conflict minerals and Intel has launched a new web hub to raise awareness.

And conflict minerals aren’t the end of the things that go into our smartphones. These phones are revolutionising how we connect and live, in many positive ways. But their production also involves problems from child labour and appalling working conditions to tropical forest destruction. Friends of the Earth and The Guardian have launched an interactive tool which looks at how sustainable is your smartphone?

Here are some ideas for ethical ISPs, mobile networks, mobile handsets etc:

.            Ethical Consumer’s report How ethical is your online life? makes interesting reading. It covers those sites you probably use every day i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Google etc Have you thought about the companies behind the sites before?

.           Fairphone – a smartphone which puts social values first. We’ve just pre-ordered one from The Co-operative Phone and Broadband (see below) so will update this entry when we’ve tried it out!

.           The People’s Operator – uses the UK’s biggest 3G network and provides SIM-only deals. Directs 10% of your spend each month to your chosen charity, and commits to sharing 25% of their profits to make things better.

.           GreenNet – ethical Internet Service Provider that has been connecting people and groups who work for peace, the environment, gender equality and human rights since 1986.

.           Green ISP – environmentally guided internet since 2003.

.          The Co-operative phone and broadband – providing award-winning ethical phone and broadband since 1998. One of the first companies  to be awarded the Fair Tax Mark and an Ethical Consumer best buy

.          DuckDuckGo – I try to avoid Google where possible (it’s almost impossible!) but have started using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine (an Ethical Consumer best buy).

.         Mozilla Firefox web-browser and its email application Thunderbird – these are ultimately owned by the not-for-profit Mozilla Foundation. Both are Ethical Consumer best buys.

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