Made out of Earth
Taavi Kervinen

[Figure 1] The Original originals [5]

[Figure 2] Less of this, please! [6]

The label of origin (you know, the tag that says for example Made in Finland) has its origins already in the ancient Egyptian culture [1], where it was used as a sign of quality; if a pot was made in this or that village, it meant that it had to have certain standard of quality. It has been used in the similar fashion throughout the millennia. Today the label of origin does carry other messages beside its original use. If a product is labelled to been produced in certain East-Asian countries, the likelihood of it being made by a child in a sweatshop is exponentially larger, than a t-shirt made in Finland. This gives the buyer the opportunity to choose, whether they wan’t to support the shop that produces their stuff in the sweatshops in the first place. Most people do not give this choice much thought, but it’s important that the possibility to choose is available.

In physical items the label of origin has been mandatory in the EU, UK and USA for varying ages [2], but for digital things this does not apply. Big tech companies do ”crunches” where they make their employees work their asses off to hit a certain deadline [3] and work is outsourced to countries where the workers might not have any rights or safety regulations. An even fuzzier problem is the physical technology that we use, as the appliances are never 100% products of the company that sells it. Your iPhone is sold and assembled by Apple, but before the phone reaches the box it’s sold in, its minerals have been mined in different countries, those minerals have been refined in others, they’ve been turned in to components in others, and those components have assembled into an actual phone in yet some other countries[4]. We’re missing a new kind of label, one that clarifies not only where it was made in, but also by whom and how. Wouldn’t it be good, if the product tells the buyer upfront how much resources were used and what kind of resources did gathering those resources use?

Big tech companies are used to build up hype and make a number of the cool shit they’re dishing out next, but the silence about how much actual, physical resources they’re going to spend getting there, is deafening. I believe, that the next generation of developers and designers are going to have to face this issue, settle for less hype and more sustainable responsibilities. Or you know, grow up.

References

[1] Wikipedia page about the Country of Origin - https://en.wikipe- dia.org/wiki/Country_of_origin#His- tory_of_country-of-origin_labelling

[2] Eur-LEX, Legislation of the European Union, documentation of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 (about the COO-labeling) - https://eur-lex- .europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TX- T/?uri=CELEX:32013R0952

[3] kotaku.com, Jason Schreier’s report on Rockstar games’ culture of crunch - https://kotaku.com/in- side-rockstar-games-cul- ture-of-crunch-1829936466

[4] lifewire.com, article ”Where is the iPhone made” - https://www.life- wire.com/where-is-the-ip- hone-made-1999503

[5] Photo of vases - https://en.wiki- pedia.org/wiki/Country_of_origin#/- media/- File:Relitto_di_Sant'Andrea_B_(Elba) .jpg

[6] Photo of Elon Musk with a flamethrower - https://ww- w.arch2o.com/elon-musk-sell- ing-flamethrowers-500/