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Buying less in the absence of an ethical smartphone

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As the debate about ethics in electronics manufacturing continues, two writers offer some refreshing thoughts on possible solutions.

iPhone 4S Google+
iPhone 4S Google+

The ongoing and complicated debate over the ethics of electronics manufacturing has ramped up of late, inspired in part by Apple's efforts at transparency on the topic, which have included reports, joining the Fair Labor Association, and allowing Nightline a peek at one of its largest and most criticized suppliers, Foxconn, in China.

The discussion has recently taken a somewhat dark turn, with Andrew Leonard's article entitled "There is no ethical smartphone" on Salon. He essentially argues that while such a thing doesn't exist yet, we could possibly engineer our way out of that issue, so to speak, moving forward technologically until they are possible. Today, however, Cord Jefferson at Good proposes a more immediate fix: simply buying fewer electronics. Its suggestion is also likely a tough pill to swallow for gadget enthusiasts, whose need to always have the newest smartphone or tablet, Jefferson argues, should be tempered with an awareness of the effect those purchasing decisions have on the larger world. The premise is so obvious you probably don't need a "how to" guide or anything, but the article is compelling and a good read on a topic that is unlikely to disappear any time soon.