The augmented reality campaign uses geo-location tools to target smartphone users near 12 Apple and Samsung stores in the UK.
People using the Aurasma AR app over store fronts will see a speech bubble appear on a green background, asking “Is my phone trashing tropical forests?” on their smartphone screen.
It also includes a short film outlining the environmental harm the charity claims is caused by mining for tin, an essential component in electrical devices.
Users can also click through to a website where they can email Apple and Samsung directly to ask if they use tin mined in Indonesia. Friends of the Earth claims Apple and Samsung have so far “refused to say” whether their products contain tin mined in the region.
The lobbying organisation says it us using “digital guerrilla activism” and social media to reach new audiences and publicise its messages. It hopes using an augmented reality campaign will help more tech savvy consumers become aware of the issue and get involved in the campaign.
Andrew Pendleton head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth says: “Millions of us love our smartphones and couldn’t do without them – we want to be able to love the way they’re made too. We’ll be keeping the pressure on these technology leaders in every dimension until they come clean about their supply chains and commit to better processes to protect people and the environment.”
A Samsung spokesperson says: “Samsung Electronics takes the issue of ethical sourcing of minerals very seriously. We strongly support the ban on conflict minerals, including tin, tantalum/coltan, tungsten and gold, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s efforts to monitor the source and chain of custody of minerals used in manufacturing.
“Samsung is committed to upholding the highest standards of corporate responsibility, and we continue to evaluate our sourcing policies to ensure they comply with global standards associated with our industry.”
The tech firm says it is “monitoring” the situation in Indonesia to determine if an investigation into whether tin in its supply chain is sourced from the region is required.
Friends of the Earth launched Make It Better in November to lobby governments to implement new laws that would force tech firms to reveal information about their supply chains.