Posted by: Richard Schwier | June 28, 2010

Conflict minerals

This was a wake-up call for me. I’ve heard about the dark underbelly of global supply chains in the past, but have paid little attention. There have been some great works on global consumerism for quite a long time, such as “The Story of Stuff”, but of course it is a story with many more tentacles. This little cliché of a video brought it home for me again, and now I’m wondering what to do. When I buy electronics, even out of ignorance, at the end of a very long commercial supply chain, I am contributing to unspeakable atrocities. Ironically, I’m composing this post on one of the products that fuels the problem.

But what do we do? Of course we can lobby for ethical products and components in those products. We can boycott companies that use conflict minerals in their products. But this seems like a very difficult, tall order. At any rate, it was good to be awakened to this issue, and I pass it along in case you were as oblivious as I was. What can we do about it as educators, as educational technologists, as consumers, as human beings?

Thanks to @gcouros on Twitter for sharing this video today.


Responses

  1. Yes, I was oblivious as well. And this is in the wake of Apples big push to become/appear(?) “earth friendly” with its new products. I guess no one really knows what the answer will be until after it succeeds and I am sure many will have suggestions. After reading your article it reminded me of an exhibition at the Vancover Art Gallery entitled “Massive Change” back in 2005 headed by the designer Bruce Mau. this exhibition “regards the whole wide world as the ultimate design brief”. Anyway, on the site there is a section addressing the issue of action and it has its foundations in education which as we know can also be designed.

    I think that just being aware of this issue also will help it find a solution. And Apple does claim that they “design with the environment in mind.” I guess companies need to be held to task.

    Here’s the address
    http://www.massivechange.com/mcinaction

  2. Thanks for these thoughts, Craig. Yes, I agree the first step is to shine a bright light on the issue and on the companies involved. No doubt it is a tough issue for them too, and the supply lines may not be as clear as we like to think. It is definitely an issue I plan to keep a closer eye on in the future.


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