It’s been a couple of weeks now since the official unveiling of Apple’s new iPad–the mobile computing device touted as a ‘game-changer’ for the publishing industry. This new product will have the same functionality and operating system as the “beloved” iPhone and iTouch. The ‘game-changing’ lies in the much larger screen and the ability to view documents, books and the internet (without flash), all while storing your music, calendar and email.
Apple and other US manufacturers like Dell and HP have worked extensively to make greener product lines and to vertically implement sustainability directives within their companies. Apple is currently marketing their macbook pro line as ‘the world’s greenest line of notebooks’, and they go in depth at this website to explain how they have made their products less toxic, more recyclable and have taken into account the emissions from production, transportation and storage. All of these macbooks have reached EPEAT gold certification. EPEAT is the certification created by the Green Electronics Council (GEC) through a grant from the EPA. EPEAT is a tool that consumers and businesses can use to make educated purchasing decisions and look at the compiled date about the sustainability of a product. You can learn more about the details of EPEAT certification here.
Apple products like the macbook have undoubtedly moved in the green direction, but there is debate about how truly sustainable a product like the iPad is. Some see it as simply creating another device category, rather than replacing or reducing the need for multiple products. But the larger issue of sustainability in relation to this product is the move towards eliminating paper goods, which is better for forests, lowers emissions on manufacturing, as well as the environmental impact of building and maintaining facilities to house and sell products print media.
One significant issue in the long run is the fear that digitizing content devalues the work produced by people in the entertainment and media industries by creating and perpetuating a belief in low or no-cost consumption. Basically, if it’s online and not free, no one will pay for it. That in itself is inherently unsustainable and damaging to American intellectual culture. This dramatically squeezes the profits of news and publishing outfits who are less able to hire and retain writers. Because Apple is committed to protecting the intellectual property of media companies and searching out better ways to charge for content, they are seen as possible saviors of the media industry. And the iPad looks a little more sustainable as a result.