Today, Apple has a reputation for taking climate change seriously. But this hasn’t always been the case.
In 2005, Apple was facing mounting public pressure from environmental nonprofits over its inadequate recycling policies and use of toxic, unrecyclable chemicals. The nonprofit Greenpeace gave Apple’s environmental friendliness a 2.7 out of 10 rating in its “Guide to Greener Electronics” (source), and environmental activists went as far as to picket outside Apple’s annual shareholder meeting (source). It took two years of hard work, organization, and public pressure, but eventually Apple stepped up.
In May 2007, Steve Jobs shared an open letter with the world, unveiling a set of environmentally friendly policies that Apple would begin to follow. This initiative, fittingly named “A Greener Apple”, included ending the use of the toxic substances mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium in all Apple products. It also unveiled an expansion of a free disposal and recycling program for iPods to all of Apple’s stores worldwide, and the promise to publish an assessment of Apple’s environmental impact every year going forward.
The story of Apple represents the story of much of the most impactful climate action in our lifetimes: It begins with individual people, like you and me, making their voices heard.
We’ll spend the next rest of this course discussing ways that you, too, can make a difference!