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As 2019 flies by, the current decade is coming to a close. The 2010’s were a time filled with all kinds of social, political, and technological progress. One of the most prominent changes was the global rise of the cell phone. In this decade, cell phones have lost their role as solely cellular devices and transformed into devices woven into all aspects of our lives. We now use cell phones for any and everything and it’s nearly impossible to imagine a future without our mobile devices. These changes have to lead to cell phone companies growing larger than ever and reaping massive profits, but these positive returns haven’t been fairly spread amongst all parties involved.
Cellphones are made out of hundreds of parts that come from all around the globe. Some of the most precious materials needed, in regards to price and rarity, are rare elements. One of the most important of these elements is Cobalt. Cobalt is essential to not only cell phones, but nearly all electronics because it is a major component in rechargeable batteries. Unfortunately, its extremely rare and must be refined heavily before use. Most of this dangerous and extremely crucial work is done by workers who are grossly underpaid and endure through horrific working conditions. A recent news article by The Guardian highlights this issue and describes the hardships that these workers face daily.
In places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, hordes of people travel to mines daily for Cobalt. The majority of these mines are largely unregulated and unsafe. These mines are staffed by all, including mothers with their children. Some of these kids are toddlers as young as six years old. Everyone working in these mines is directly exposed to large amounts of toxic heavy metals daily. The pollutant that these people encounter is known to cause serious health issues. In addition, these mines are poorly built and have completely collapsed on workers in the past, killing all inside. After working in these awful conditions, these workers make a maximum of a dollar or two daily if they’re lucky.
These working conditions are cruel and clear human rights abuses that need to be addressed. These abuses are allowed to continue because those in power turn a blind eye to these areas. Nearly all companies involved in cellphone production claim to be completely against child labor and unsafe working conditions but none of these parties do anything to address the manipulation of peoples in Congo and elsewhere. These companies buy Cobalt from suppliers without addressing or inquiring about where the Cobalt comes from; they know that they won’t like what they find. Therefore, companies ignore these issues. What’s out of sight is out of mind for them.
Living in a society overrun with mobile devices, we all share a responsibility to help those being exploited by these companies. If companies don’t take action against these abuses of power, we must! This starts by using our voices to make it clear that these abuses won’t be tolerated and ultimately refusing to buy these products if these abuses continue. The luxuries that our devices provide are fueled by these exploits so this fight for justice is one that we must all participate in. Here at Physis Invest, we believe in creating a more sustainable and just world that we can all enjoy. In our pursuit of sustainability, we believe that no one should be left behind. Share this article to bring awareness to this pressing issue and join us at Physis Invest to help fight for a better tomorrow and future for all!
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