Mines, Maps and Minerals: Trace the complex material flows of your smartphone to make more sustainable choices

Titiksha Vashist , Shyam Krishnakumar

Your smartphone's components journey thousands of miles worldwide before reaching you.This includes open pit-mining in Congo, the use of 76 elements including gold and likely, city-scale smartphone factories in China. Join us to uncover the complex material flows of your smartphone and explore how we can make more sustainable choices as consumers.
Hands On

Smartphones may look like devices from the future, but a look at the complex material flows tells us how little we are told about their making and how deeply it is connected to our planet's future. The smartphone is created through a complex web of problematic supply chains, materials, and human labour.

Are they at least designed to live long and prosper? Turns out not- manufacturers often plan obsolescence during manufacture in order to boost sales. This reduces the device's life, makes repairability and recycling difficult and increases the carbon footprint.

This workshop uses an exploratory toolkit approach to unpack these complex material flows and what we can do about them. By the end of this session, you will have the power to make better technology decisions and contribute to building the sustainable digital future we all dream of. 

The workshop will help  unpack the following:
1. Where does your smartphone really come from? The complex global journey of the smartphone
2. Tracking your smartphone journey: Track your smartphone's journey on the world map, and uncover out the global distribution of mining, manufacturing and use. Where are you on this map?
3. Calculate your phone-economics- the cost is also your time, attention, accessories, energy and mineral-use.
4. Designed to die: What happens when you dispose a phone? Why are smartphones so hard to repair? Are phones manufactured to have shorter lives?
5. Planetary futures: How can we make better decisions around the smartphone which work not just for us, but also for the planet? How can we become better, conscientious tech consumers?