We live in a world of choice.  As arbitrary as some of your choices are, they all tend to have one thing in common: they are your choices. How well informed, or how “conscious” your choice is, is generally up to you. Most of us seek out the likely consequences of our decisions, and act accordingly. For instance, if you were recommended a school for your child, you would read all the documentation, contact all the right people and ask as many questions as you could so that you were sure that you had chosen the best possible school for your child. Sometimes we choose to not take time to consider our choices but decide on impulse or  follow the adverts. Sometimes we simply may not be provided with enough information to make informed decisions and need to dig deeper. Sometimes, no matter how hard you dig, the information cannot be found. Uninformed choice may translate to detrimental outcomes that the decision maker remains oblivious to.

This week we are investigating the issue of cobalt mining. This is a subject that not only you need to dig deep to find, but the information available is inadequate. If you use any electronic device, you need to read on.

Until the report written by Amnesty International was brought to their attention, the multinationals responsible were silent on the issue, as thousands of children were used. Since the report, these companies have been more vocal.

Spokespeople for Samsung say they have a “zero tolerance” 6 policy on this issue, but we are yet to see how this translates into actual action. Apple has been less co-operative, but has said “underage labor is never tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to have led the industry in pioneering new safeguards” 6. Apple today is worth over $700 billion 7 so what is the excuse for them not being able to investigate the matter further. According to Afrewatch, an organisation based in the DRC monitoring this issue, “none of those companies named could independently verify where the cobalt in their products come from” 4

Knowing all of this inevitably places a degree of responsibility on our shoulders. So what can you do as a consumer?

1. Ask the question:

Change is often brought about simply by asking questions. So, start by doing that. Ask the “genius” if they actually know where and how the phones they are selling come from. Take note of their answer. The more people ask, the more it drives the big corporates to provide the answers and to take the issue seriously.

2. Avoid over consumption:

Increasingly, there is a culture of over consumption, which leads to these companies using the mines more regularly, to keep up with demand. One way of putting less people in danger is not to buy as many phones. Do you really need a new phone every time you update a phone plan or when every new  model release becomes available? Melding mobile handsets and phone services together in a manner that is inseparable fuels over consumption. Consider services that separate these. For example, at SavinGreen, we know that each phone has both human and environmental costs, so we encourage BYO mobile phone plans and clearly separate mobile handset repayments from mobile phone plan services for approved customers to help reduce over consumption.

3. Recycle:
Take the effort to recycle your old phones. There are number of different services, including Mobile Muster, which has collection bins in all major mobile phone retailers including Telstra, Optus,Vodafone and Virgin Mobiles stores, and retailers such as Officeworks. You can also pick up a FREE reply paid satchel at most Australia Post outlets, allowing you to post back your old mobiles, batteries, chargers and accessories for recycling. The program is funded by most manufacturers and carriers, and accredited by the Federal Government.  Everything collected is recycled to the highest environmental standard where over 95% of the material in a mobile phone can be recovered and used to produce new products.

This reduces the need to continually mine. To find out more information regarding this or your nearest drop off location, visit mobilemuster.com.au

Categories: Articles

2 Comments

Smithe36 · April 14, 2018 at 10:28 am

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Johng610 · June 22, 2018 at 5:29 am

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