We know the drill by now: every few months Apple rolls out some new iPod model, seducing us to trash our still-shiny-perfectly-brand-new one. We tend to think of this as progressive design. However, these days progressive design must also factor in a product’s environmental spillover. Apple–and its exponentially rapid product rollouts–has been one of the worst offenders.
With e-waste reportedly accounting for 70% of all toxic waste in the U.S., this is an aggressive effort to breathe down the necks of the companies, like Apple, who are guilty contributors to the problem. According to Greenpeacet, tech companies ranking as most eco-friendly include Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Samsung. Disappointingly, the worst offenders when it comes to toxicity, recycling, and energy, include many of the companies we tend to consider the most innovative: HP, Microsoft, Nintendo (ranked last)…and our friends at Apple.
According to Apple, the newest version of its digital silver bling is 100% recyclable, runs on a quarter of the power of a single light bulb, and is made without mercury. While the company gets points for reducing toxicity and increasing recycled materials, the greenwash brigade already has their guns blazing. EcoGeek.org deemed the MacBook’s solid aluminum brick construction an environmental “step backwards.” For a detailed critique of the new MacBook’s greeniness, check out Green, Inc.
None of this is easy, or clear cut. A few weeks ago 60 Minutes ran a terrifying expose on where America’s “recycled” electronics end up, and earlier this week The New York Times uncovered the tin wars over laptops in the Congo. However, the more organizations like Greenpeace can pull back the curtain, the more consumers like us should apply pressure to brands by choosing where we spend our dollars.