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TRANSPARENCY AND THE CONFLICT MINERALS IN OUR PHONES

July 31st, 2010

I’m typing on an Apple MacBook Pro while data backups are running in the background; gigabytes of images and video are flitting from Seagate to Lacie to Netgear hard drives. I have a Belkin router, a Comcast modem…I have all the accouterments of technology I need to capture content and publish in a digital world. What I don’t have is peace of mind.

I’ve spoken about and written about this before and, increasingly, so are many others. We are talking about conflict minerals, those metals essential to the electronics industry and our everyday conveniences. These metals also pay for ongoing war and sexual violence. As a consumer, I feel powerless to affect such a global issue. But, it is becoming easier to see how our role in the killing and what we can do to stop it. Like many things, it starts with transparency and accountability, through knowledge and conversation.

Jobs_EnoughProjectApple CEO Steve Jobs, as reported by Wired, recently responded to a customer about conflict minerals in Apple products. The customer wrote:

“Are you currently making any effort to source conflict-free minerals? In particular, I’m concerned that Apple is getting tantalum, tungsten, tin, and gold from Eastern Congo through its suppliers.”

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Movie: The Cove. Documentary Journalism and an Advocate’s Message

June 30th, 2010


I put “The Cove” on my movie list when it was briefly in Seattle, before it won Best Documentary at the Academy Awards. When it became available on Netflix, it went into the cue; last night I was able to watch it with Lu. I was more than impressed, not just by the film, but by the call to action.

Having a marine biologist for a partner means I get some interesting insight. For instance, some of the interviewees in the film hold multiple roles most viewers wouldn’t know about. How the film makers chose to classify them helped me understand the context of their quotes. We also stopped the film several times so Lu could tell me who certain people were and their role in the IWC or other organizations. I like inside information.

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I’m a Mac…and I have a Dirty Secret

June 28th, 2010

Brian Storm posted this to his Twitter feed; my partner, Luciana, had mentioned it to me. And, because I talk about this when I give presentations (even pointing to my computer and holding up my iPhone), I thought it was worth a post all on its own.

Consumers–us–we buy products but many of us don’t ask our retailers to talk to the manufacturers to ask them to track their materials all the way down the supply chain, and to do so with a high level of transparency. That means, when we buy our electronics (or tomatoes or chocolate or…whatever) we often have no idea if slave labor, human trafficking, or war have tainted the products we buy.

It is a big challenge, but I believe corporations can hold their suppliers accountable, working with them to ensure there are viable and profitable options for them to supply conflict and slave-free materials for consumption. I believe the biggest part of the challenge is for consumers, like me and like you, to begin asking for this.

I wish I could point to my Mac and say “This is certified slave and conflict free.”

But I can’t. At least, not yet.

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Posted in activisim, advocacy, human rights, human trafficking, inspiration, multimedia, opinion, social justice, video Comments Off on I’m a Mac…and I have a Dirty Secret

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