Apple and the environment

Every year, like clockwork, as we get closer to Earth Day Apple releases updates on it’s efforts towards environmental sustainability, clean energy production, removal of toxic ingredients in products, etc. The most recent, today: Apple helps suppliers rapidly accelerate renewable energy use around the world. I rarely see this discussed in the Apple user community. It get’s reported by the usual websites but I rarely hear it discussed on Apple podcasts or forums like MPU. Same goes for related topics like WWDC virtual events, rarely does the possible environmental/climate change angle come up when the topic is being discussed.

As someone who is deeply concerned about climate change I’d really appreciate hearing it discussed more. I get that maybe most people are primarily concerned with tech specs of the new shiny but surely there is room for and a real need for discussing the environmental aspects of production and use. On point, when discussing the new Macs, rarely (never?) have I heard a podcaster bring up that concerning the climate, it’s better that people stick with Macs that use less energy if it covers their needs instead of all out buy the best even if, multiplied by millions over years it means a lot more carbon in the atmosphere.

Apple’s made great progress here and I think that should be magnified. Are there any other such large companies making similar efforts? Given the state of things is there any reason why this shouldn’t be at least semi-regularly addressed by the Apple community?

@MacSparky, @ismh might Relay draw more attention to it?


That’s not why I buy Apple gear. Let’s leave politics out of it. Thank you.


Here’s a little more information about the 300MW Texas solar farm mentioned. There’s not much else online I can find.

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Apple has definitely done some amazing work here. We tend to cover it when they make news about it — or when Lisa Jackson is on the roof of Apple Park making an announcement — but I do think it’s very commendable work that more people should know about. :+1:


What about this is political? Last I checked, the environment impacted everyone, no matter their political affiliation. :slight_smile:


Not everyone agrees on the predictions of what will happen. And they don’t agree on what to do about it. That’s the political part. I’d like to stay away from politics in this forum.


Thats fair, but there is no speculation on what will happen to the environment in this post. OP only mentioned that they would like to see more emphasis on Apple’s progress with regards to enviornmental issues.

You seem to be the only one bringing up politics in the post.


It’s certainly a consideration for me in my buying decision. I don’t understand it as ‘political’, especially given Apple make so much of it in every keynote which I would have thought makes it a valid talking point.

I have recently tended to buy preowned, partly for cost, partly for environmental reasons (reusing being better for the environment than recycling.) I do buy some Apple kit new, however, and their apparent work to ensure they lead the pack in sustainability is welcome. It would be good to hear from those “in the know” just how effective it is in limiting the impact of our shiny new toys on the planet.


I certainly didn’t start the topic with any intent towards politics. That said, it’s true that it can be made political and certainly in the large scope of things politics comes in to play in the world as humans attempt to respond (or not respond).

I brought it up because we’re all Apple users and enthusiasts and often discuss the various aspects of Apple products. We discuss the cost, the technical specifications, when to replace, etc. All sorts of variables. Apple has made it a priority to strive towards what it perceives to be environmental sustainability in it’s business development and model. As a part of that it’s taking great care to communicate how and why it’s doing what it’s doing. As an Apple customer I deeply appreciate these aspects of Apple products and it’s certainly something I think about when making purchases and evaluating services.

It’s interesting too I think just from a human and cultural perspective that it’s taken for granted that when we discuss cost of new Apple gear we’re often focused on the financial cost. But that’s not the only cost for those of us that value social and ecological sustainability, etc. So it becomes a question of ethics, values, etc. Simply put, for some that discuss upgrades, etc money might be primary and is freely discussed. For others money is secondary to sustainability in evaluating cost.

I think as a community it’s great that we tread lightly, carefully, thoughtfully. We want to keep it constructive and positive which is an important attribute of what we have going here. I think that a topic like this can be discussed in that way. Like any topic, I’d suggest that if it does come too close to something that bothers you perhaps it’s best to just leave it alone. Similarly, I’ve seen topics popup that I don’t enter just because I’m not that interested. That’s okay, we don’t all have to be a part of every thread that get’s created.


I to like Apple’s focus on energy saving, using renewable resources in manufacturing and recycling.

I’m not concerned with the politics of proving or disproving anything to anyone. I believe large portions of the spectrum can be met from both ends. We need to simultaneously know how to produce devices that use milliwatts of power at the same time that we need to be able to produce massive amounts of clean energy.

The craft is found in the rarified air of excellence.

I’d like Apple to go further. Many Content Distribution Networks run on non renewable energy. I’m starting to believe the need to stream everything is at odds with conservation. I’d love to see Apple clean up the redundant data and access to data that is wasteful of energy


It’s hard for this not to be political because even just praising Apple’s environmental efforts (as I think we should) is implicitly accepting that there can be a “good” form of consumer capitalism that does not inherently rely on the mindless use of limited resources (to say nothing of the exploitation of people in faraway countries) to thrive. And that assumption is one that countless climate-related academics have challenged and disproven.
At the same time, those same academics claim that the only true solution would be such a profound reworking of the financial and production system worldwide that — while I would love to make it happen with a magic wand — it just seems unrealistic and inapplicable to this life on this planet.
So one is stuck in a tricky spot, since both options are kind of hard to truly sign up for.

For me personally, I am not proud of the consumerist streak that Apple manages to tease out of me, for its inevitable environmental costs. But I certainly allow myself to be that way wrt to Apple because it is just about as decent and caring as you can hope a mega corporation to be. I would love to see them do more, of course. Not only on the environment but on fair labor practices.


You’re right. And I think it’s best when we avoid religion and politics here. However, IMO, “clean energy production, removal of toxic ingredients in products, etc.” are worth pursuing even if they do nothing to change the climate. Just because our thermostat is stuck doesn’t mean we can’t clean up our home.

As for the rest of it, we can discuss that if we ever run into each other at an Apple store. I’ll buy the coffee.

In my view, the fact that Apple are pushing ahead hard without legislation driving them makes it distinctly apolitical.


I also care about this, though I also care about getting the latest Mac…

I think that Apple’s drive towards low powered chips has been incredibly exciting. I have no doubt they did this to provide excellent performance with great battery life in a notebook computer.
But, they they took these and put them into desktop machines, meaning that computers that get left on for hours, and have no issues with running out of power, use up far less energy than they used to.
I absolutely love that they have pushed this, and promote it proudly.

Then there’s recycling, etc etc. Now, for a lot of this Apple appears to get itself into a good position first, then start looking at how to clean things up, but I’d wager that’s better than most companies.

Personally, I think the podcasts I care about (MPU, Upgrade, and to some extent The Talk Show and Connected) get things about right. They report on things, they interview people, they give some (little) time to what is being done.

For a deeper look into it, I’d say there are probably going to be better sources out there with people who actually know what they are talking about regarding the environmental impact. As much as I love the hosts of the aforementioned podcasts, I think I’d rather hear about what, I don’t know, Stratechery maybe?, had to say in a deep dive than these tech-focused podcasts.


What I like about Apple: they last longer. My work stuff is Windows/Android. And while not really cheap, they do not last as long as my private gear. So: less trash, less used resources. :slight_smile:


Good point. My last Apple laptop was originally for work, was retired as a personal device then finally passed on to my daughter. I’ve never had that level of use from a windows laptop.

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Another thing I like: packaging. With the beginning of the pandemic, we bought a lot of IT stuff for home office (Windows laptops, monitors, headsets,…). The amount of plastic, polystyrene,…insane. Apple is also doing a better job here.


I’m a climate scientist by training and now an ecologist by vocation, so this is definitely something I think about. I mostly think all these press announcements are greenwashing (if Apple truly cared about sustainability, they’d make it easier to get repairs done, recycling would be far more rigorous, etc etc). But, they’re performing better than many in their industry and as others have pointed out in this thread, their tech lasts far longer than that of other brands. No such thing as ethical capitalism etc etc.

I’m an Apple user and I’m happy to be one. It’s daft to think we can live without web tech (nor do I want to) so it’s a ‘lesser of the available evils’ choice for me. And I believe that if anyone is going to push the tech sector forward, it will be Apple.


Oh I missed your point when I was commenting but I 100% agree with this, Apple’s packaging is superb!

@Denny - I would suggest this is a case of “Be the change you want to see”. If there is a particular message you have fire in your belly about and want to broadcast please tell everyone that story from your perspective via posts here or a blog etc.
Asking Relay hosts to comment meaningfully on sustainability topics is maybe asking too much of them.
I for example work in the world of construction sustainability so have a good working knowledge of such topics but don’t think I see an easy way to link my professional knowledge into Apple’s undertakings in anything but general themes & certainly not in an engaging way so I would have sympathy for anyone else not already versed in the topics having to take a position on such matters.
I 100% agree as a society we need to stop polluting & stripping planet Earth of natural resources; but (hopefully said in a respectful way) don’t want to have that discussed in depth as a standing item on podcasts I listen to for entertainment purposes. It would feel contrived unless the host had a natural passion for the topic- and in that case I think it would be more evident in their material to date.