The Steve Jobs Legacy On Green Technology

As you’ve likely read by now Steve Jobs, the man that brought Apple back from the grave to become a leader in computers and consumer technology, has passed on. Jobs leaves many legacies and discussions will be had in days, weeks and even years ahead about how much of a technological visionary he really was. The question we ask here is – what about his contributions to green technology?

Apple certainly has had its share of controversy heaped on it by the likes of Greenpeace, which over the years has called out the company for things like the use of coal to fuel data centers and toxic chemicals in its popular products. The company, under Jobs’ leadership, made great strides to address these issues. In a 2009 interview with BusinessWeek, Jobs addressed the greening of Apple, noting that “the impact of products, not the emissions of factories, is what counts, and that it’s time to focus on a company’s results, not its lofty goals.”

image via Apple

Jobs himself took to the Internet to promote Apple’s greening, posting a lengthy document about his company’s efforts to be greener. Noting that Apple’s stakeholders wanted the company to be a leader in this area, Jobs outlined in detail the steps being taken – or already taken – to green its products. The results of the detailing showed the company to be a leader in the greening of consumer technology.

It is very common today for Apple to post an environmental scorecard of sorts with every new product it debuts, be it the latest Apple iPad or a new MacBook. These scorecards show time and again what green practices are made towards products that, by nature of what makes them up, harbor many non-green elements. Common choices by Apple under Jobs’ leadership for greening these items included meeting various energy efficiency standards and containing significantly reduced chemicals in the device’s physical aspects.

Apple, as well, also rebooted its e-waste recycling program to make it one of the most consumer friendly in the industry. It has also looked beyond greening its products to the actual footprint of its headquarters, with plans in the work for a new facility described as being ultra-green in nature.

TreeHugger, after Jobs stepped down in late August of this year from his role as Apple’s CEO, made mention of five noteworthy green moments during the Jobs era. it is a good read to see what green legacy he leaves behind. It is noted Apple still has a ways to go before it is the greenest consumer technology products company out there – which is something we concur with as well.

The question now becomes – with Jobs no longer at the helm, will Apple continue his desire for a company that not only puts out great products, but one which strives to make them greener as well?

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.

1 Comment

  • Reply October 11, 2011


    Slave to The innnnnSteve Jobs has died. It is sad that he has died. I agree that henwas a great innovator and business man. I agree that he has greatlynchanged tour lives. nnnnnnBut………….there’s just one morenthing. Some have talked of the passing of a great man, anrevolutionary, a visionary. Has he really made such a positive effectnon the worldu00a0? nnnnnnThe world is faced with two majornproblems that are (inter) related and urgently need addressing – overnconsumption and damage to the environment. I believe it is based onnwhat Jobs did to help with these central problems that we can measurenhis greatness. nnnnnnnFirstly, over consumption. Jobs was a buddhist and was influenced bynthe 1960’s counter culture. He said that his experience with LSDnwas”one of the two or three most important things [he had] donenin [his] life”. How was any spiritual enlightenment he gainednpassed on to humankindu00a0? His mantra appeared to beu00a0: Buynmore (Apple i) stuff and be happi(er). He has done nothing to reducen(over) consumption or get us to question our behaviour. If anythingnhe has made the problem worse iPad, iPod, iPhone and of course eachnsuccessive upgrade of each product.nnnnnSecondly, damage to thenenvironment. After criticism of Apple by Greenpeace in 2005 therenwas a bigger effort by the corporation to ‘green its operation’ andnreduce it’s environmental footprint. Jobs talked about ‘A greenernApple’. However Apple still does not rank in the top 3 of the latestn(2010) Greenpeace ranking of 18 electronics companies based onntheir policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change.nClimate Counts which ranks electronics companies on theirnclimate footprint also found Apple lagging behind its competitors innthe electronics sector. nnnA truly great person, a truenrevolutionary, a true visionary would have really broken thenbusiness mould and made its products and production as green asnpossible, as fast as possibleu2013 power consumption of products,nrenewable energy used in production, packaging, recycled materialsncontent, hazardous materials content, biodegradable materialsncontent, recyclable materials content, in store recycling scheme fornall company products, repairability of products, product lifespan. Itnwould also have sold the idea to consumers and radically changed thenway consumers think about the environment.nnnIf he had really wanted to makenApple a market leader in terms of its Green credentials andnenvironmental innovation, he would have made it happen. The followingnanecdote illustrates my point that had Jobs wanted to really greennthe Apple corporation he could have done.When the first prototype of theniPod was presented to Steve Jobs, he said it was too big. Thentechnicians argued that it was just not possible to make it anynsmaller. Jobs reaction was to drop thei Pod in an aquarium. Havingnsunk to the bottom, air bubbles escaped and rose to the surface.n’Bubbles means thereu2019s space in there. Make it smalleru00a0!’nnnThe world is still waiting for the truenvisionaries, to lead us forward into the Third Industrial Revolution u2013nThe Green Revolution. That move forward is essential if our speciesnis to survive on a finite earth. nnn

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