Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Buzz Word

I have had a few interviews over the last few years. I joked to my husband that I am becoming a professional interviewee and while at times I know I am just a filler candidate (they already have someone else in mind prior to the interview, but must follow due process), I say I never mind the practice. It’s good experience.

One thing I’ve learned from this is that interviewers are looking for certain key words in your answers. Generally educators interviewing educators is going to make for a very lengthy interview – long winded meets long winded – the more concise I can make my point, using these words, the better.

The key words give an indication that I actually know what I’m talking about – or at least have done the right reading etc. These buzz words exists for most every topic and I use them myself to know where people’s interests and knowledge base lie.

I am in the process of needing a new cell phone (or cell phone plan anyway). We’ve been nearly 8 months in our new province and my out of province cell plan is finally expiring (there was no benefit to trying to cancel it). When I’m doing my shopping around, I am interested to know who may carry refurbished phones that do not involve supporting the continued retrieval of conflict minerals (yes, your sweet cell phone contains a triad of minerals that were undoubtedly retrieved through means that would make your heart sink). The key word here is conflict minerals – the 3 T’s – Tin, Tungsten and Tantalum. Did you know Tungsten is responsible for the vibrate feature on your phone??

These 3 minerals alone earn Congolese armed groups an estimated $95 million dollars per year through trade. Gold (for jewelry & other electronic components) adds $44-$88 million trade dollars all going to fuel a war that has killed millions, (estimates are as high as 45,000 people dying each month), seen thousands of women & girls violently raped, and children & grown adults kidnapped and forced to be a part of the armies or become slaves in the mining industry that provides these minerals to the massive companies that make cell phones & other electronic devices.

So, I am realistic and know we are not going to successfully ask everyone to give up their schmancy phones. In this society? Not going to happen. But it would be nice to be able to ask a phone distributor what they offer in terms of conflict free options and not get a blank stare. Most of them have no clue what the buzz word is here.

Sadly, I think change must come from our governments and that may not happen without pressure from the consumer. Environmental lobbyists worked hard to get attention. Now there are policies, bills and grave consequences for businesses that cannot meet environmental standards. New recycling options are becoming available all the time and making green choices is an acceptable (and desirable) practice.

We’ve made our government acknowledge that our planet is not sustainable unless we step up and create balanced limitations – hopefully it is not too little too late. Now, we need to speak up again.

If those who govern us would set up policy that these organizations must follow fair trade standards for all minerals acquired, the fuel for much of the DRC/Congo conflict would be nonexistent. I might pay more for my cell phone, but isn’t that worth it to know it didn’t involve someone else’s forced blood & tears?

A solicitor came by my house a few days ago trying to get me geared about the local politician he was representing. He asked if I had any questions for said candidate. I said, I’d like to know where he stands on social justice, foreign trade policy, fair trade agreements and human trafficking. BLANK STARE.

Next, I wanted to ask about the cell phone the candidate likely carried – however I didn’t, I felt my point was already made.

1 comment:

  1. I first learned about conflict minerals, coltan specifically, when reading about the "Playstation war". Imagine, a war fought so people would have easier access to entertainment! As I began digging deeper, I realized how big a problem this is. I'm still searching for a solution other than "drop out of modern society". Buying used and refurbished cell phones is a good start; at least that way the minerals so many have worked so hard for will be used as much as possible. Recycle, reduce, and reuse and all that.