United Pepper helps tech go Fairtrade

This afternoon we met up with Oscar and Lili. No, not our friends down the pub, but rather what are claimed to be the first Fairtrade consumer technology gadgets in the world.

Oscar and Lili - no undecipherable 10-digit product codes here - comprise of a starfish-shaped USB hub and an octopus-shaped 1.3-megapixel webcam respectively. And they're both made in a Fairtrade environment from natural raw materials.

United Pepper, the company behind the new range of Fairtrade gadgets, said the products are made from cotton, sand, a tree-fibre called kapok and paperboard. Packaging is 100 per cent recycled and recyclable, and there's even a label telling you how much of the product is handled in a Fairtrade environment.

Production cycle

This labelling takes into account the entire production cycle, from sourcing materials to working conditions in the Vietnam workshop, to fair pay and equal rights, to shipping and distribution. All United Pepper products score at least 70 per cent on the scale.

"The aim is of course to take it as high as possible, but it is difficult finding Fairtrade ships, for example, so it's likely that we won't reach the entire 100 per cent, but we'll try our hardest," said Xavier Petre, founder and CEO of United Pepper.

"Our mission is to produce technology products in a sustainable and ecological way," Petre added. "We want to move the Fairtrade concept away from traditional products and into a brand new area." Future products in development include a notebook computer bag, a mouse, and a memory card reader.

Oscar and Lili will be sold through John Lewis and other retailers from the end of the month. Oscar the USB hub costs £20 while Lili the webcam costs £30. Both products are PC-compatible only, and are available in green, blue, and red.