It is a great day for fair trading today as we see the UK launch of the new model Fairphone.
Available to pre-order through the Phone Co-op, I have put my order in already, having exhausted an old smart phone and probably been a little exhausted myself by all the niggling accounts of human rights abuses and environmental challenges that the big names, Apples and Samsungs, suffered since I first went smart in my handsets.
Since pouring over drafts myself of what Fairtrade standards for coffee and tea could be twenty five years ago, it has been inspiring to see the rise of what we might just call fair-preneurialism – a movement of people and a passion for business that has led to fair footballs, fair finance, fair trade and fair phones, products that are touching every part of our lives.
It is probably a safe prediction to say that any product or service could be open to fair innovation. All it takes is a recognition that while modern economies create distance between consumers and producers, with complex supply chains and intermediary links. Because we know less about the hands that laboured to begin with, it is inevitable that some people will be prefer to see and pay to secure some form of assurance that no-one has been lost out badly in the process.
It is also true that: life is far too short to turn shopping into a research PhD on ethics; that there are more ethical consumers in spirit than in practice; that products and services have to be good before they can succeed by being ethical; that we want companies to make ethics simpler for us, acting as choice editors; that being niche and fair shouldn’t distract from action to drive out what is mainstream and unfair. As I have said before of fair trade, the fact that you can’t do everything doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to do something.
Give us bread and give us roses, but please Lord, make them fair.