John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

I’m Proud to Say Our New ‘Soylent Green’ iPod Is Made of 100% Biodegradable Greenpeace Activists!

soylent_green_cover.jpgIf you’re going to try to smear Apple for reckless environmental practices, you best have some hard epidemiological and toxicological data on hand, because goofy Photoshop treatments of the company’s marketing materials just can’t stand up to a blow from the Apple PR machine.

Greenpeace learned that Wednesday, when Apple chief Steve Jobs published an open letter addressing its indictment of Apple’s green practices. “Apple has been criticized by some environmental organizations for not being a leader in removing toxic chemicals from its new products, and for not aggressively or properly recycling its old products,” Jobs wrote. “Upon investigating Apple’s current practices and progress toward these goals, I was surprised to learn that in many cases Apple is ahead of, or will soon be ahead of, most of its competitors in these areas. Whatever other improvements we need to make, it is certainly clear that we have failed to communicate the things that we are doing well.”

Indeed. Especially to Greenpeace, which didn’t even
bother to actually measure toxins in Apple’s products
. According to the Statistical Assessment Service, Greenpeace used Apple’s labeling to determine which chemicals are present in its products and then used the precautionary principle for those chemicals’ toxicity to calculate its green score. “In other words,” explains STATS, “if a study has shown that a chemical causes some damage in rodents, the precautionary principle dictates that one must assume the chemical is a risk to humans, no matter what the quantity, or the likelihood of actual exposure, or the mode of action, or the weight of countervailing evidence. If we applied the precautionary principle to vegetables as Greenpeace does to computers, we’d have to ban tomatoes and lettuce, as the naturally occurring caffeic acid is a carcinogen in rodents at high quantities.”

Nice, eh? It get’s better. According to the EPA’s Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, Apple’s products are among the most environmentally friendly in the PC world. Which is not to say that the EPEAT is the best gauge of green standards, just that there exist data points that don’t support Greenpeace’s accusations against Apple. Anyway … green tech is obviously an important issue, and it’s wonderful to see Apple make a public commitment to environmental action like this–regardless of its inspiration.