It’s a damn shame that Apple has withdrawn its products from green certification by EPEAT - a standard the company helped to found and under which 39 of its products were certified.
Apple’s record on sustainability has always been a bit iffy, despite its efforts to counter criticism from Greenpeace and some pretty comprehensive documentation of environmental practices on its corporate website. With this formal withdrawal from EPEAT, some conscious consumers - like the city of San Francisco, and possibly even the Federal Government - will choose (or be forced by their own standards) to stop purchasing Apple products entirely.
But my experience suggests that the overlap between green consumers and Apple enthusiasts is large - and that for those who have a choice, their devotion to Apple tends to win out over any commitment to sustainable consumption. This is especially easy to rationalize as the company’s defenders claim that while Apple might not fit the industry’s green standards, its own independent standards/practices are just as legit.
This sort of rogue self-regulation might work for Apple, but it’s not a useful precedent to set for business in general. Just another reason why, as tempting as it is to use Apple as a model for innovation, design, strategy, etc., its successes are rarely applicable to companies that are not, well, Apple. As my friend (and Apple fan) Roy has put it “don’t be Apple - even if you could be.”
Will I stop buying Apple products as a result? Unlikely, in part because I’ve recently become even more deeply dependent on them via my work at Tumblr. I’d like to believe that, as Mike Daisey argued in his compelling if flawed call to action re: Apple’s questionable labor practices in China, questioning/encouragement from loyal Apple customers can have as positive an effect on company practices as criticism from the outside. But in this case I’m most interested in the business world’s obsession with emulating Apple in every way, an endeavor I believe is largely futile; in the case of sustainability, I believe it could be detrimental.