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This may read like an Apple hit piece to some people, but it is far from that. I have respect for Apple and the strides they have made toward their ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) goals. I have owned a variety of Apple devices over the past two decades, and I own shares of their stock.
This also may read like an anti-environmentalism post, which it is also not. Climate change is real. Sustainability and the environment are very important to me, and while I am far from having a zero carbon footprint, I like to think I am at least intentional about the decisions I make to try and minimize unnecessary impact on the planet.
At Apple’s September 12th Event, they spent a full twelve minutes of the hour and twenty-two-minute presentation talking about their climate goals and how they’re on track to meet them, starting with drastic changes to their Apple Watch to become carbon neutral. In comparison, they talked for nineteen minutes about the new iPhone 15 base model. So clearly, this was something important to them if they spent 15% of the event on it.
Besides changes to the Apple Watch, the other big announcement was the immediate transition away from leather accessories across the board. No more official, Apple-branded leather phone cases, watch bands, etc. Their core argument is that the production of leather accessories “at Apple’s scale” comes with a large carbon footprint, and this is true. But it omits the point that the production of any accessories “at Apple’s scale” comes with a large carbon footprint. Even their touted carbon-neutral Apple Watches utilize carbon credits. Carbon credits have been shown time and time again to be, in the best case, less impactful than they’re credited for, and in the worst cases outright scams.
I am all for swapping comparable, environmentally friendlier products. I use Blueland cleaning products around my house, use reusable Swedish dishcloths instead of paper towels, and buy bamboo Reel toilet paper. These products all work and cost comparably the same as the products I was using before. Apple’s replacement material does not. It has been getting some of the worst reviews for an Apple product I’ve ever seen (currently 2.2 stars on Amazon and 1 star on Target), and they sell a $700 set of aluminum wheels for your Mac Pro. To announce it in the same breath as announcing…