If the rise of the #selfie tells us anything, it's that mobile phones are today's most indispensable accessory. But while finding an eco-friendly handbag or fairly traded jewelry is not as difficult as it once was, finding a responsible way to stay connected is tricky business.

In recent years, reports of appalling working conditions at smartphone factories have been widespread, and it's still unclear whether corporations' attempts to overhaul labor policies at these factories will ultimately succeed. Much like diamonds and rubies, the minerals used to make cellphones can contribute to violence and war in the regions where they are mined. And though they're great for keeping in touch with Mom, our trusty handhelds are significantly less friendly to Mother Earth: from their toxic and radioactive byproducts, to the buildup of "outdated" phones that become either undesirable or obsolete within years, our addiction to having an infinite number of diversions and resources at our fingertips has some serious environmental repercussions.

Though they're great for keeping in touch with Mom, cellphones are significantly less friendly to Mother Earth. Enter the Fairphone.

Enter the Fairphone, a conscious alternative for consumers who don't want to head back into the digital dark ages. Developed by a Dutch company, the crowdfunded phone features standard specs while addressing many of the social and environmental concerns surrounding these devices. Its tin and tantalum components are certified conflict-free, and the company publishes a Bill of Materials so that all components of the phone can be traced. €3 from every sale go to establishing e-waste recycling projects in countries where such programs do not yet exist, and partnerships with open-source developer communities were put in place to promote long-term ownership of these phones by their end users.

Fairphones will be made in China, but the company has explained why other options were neither feasible nor eco-friendly, and the makers are transparent about the manufacturing partner they will use. A living wage for workers has already been negotiated with the factory, and because the initial production volume is relatively low, Fairphone says it will be able to closely monitor working conditions. They also note that the partnership provides an opportunity to drive systemic change from within, and that their ultimate goal is to create "a completely recyclable phone made from human and environmentally-friendly materials, free from plastics and toxins."

It may not be perfect yet, but the Fairphone is, at the very least, one big conversation starter.

Ed. Note: Unfortunately for would-be users in the U.S., the Fairphone will only be available in Europe initially. If you can't wait to replace that cracked screen until it hits our shores, try the Samsung Galaxy S4, which recently became the first smartphone to score a sustainability certification.

SUGGESTED READING: 9 Ethical Shopping Apps & Plug-Ins 

ethical shopping apps