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Thursday 3 May 2007

Has Greenpeace had their day? [Lurks]

An interesting development appeared recently with Greenpeace launching a campaign aimed at Apple which you can find here. Here's what they say in a nutshell:

"We love Apple. Apple knows more about "clean" design than anybody, right? So why do Macs, iPods, iBooks and the rest of their product range contain hazardous substances that other companies have agreed to abandon? A cutting edge company shouldn't be cutting lives short by exposing children in China and India to dangerous chemicals. That's why we Apple fans need to demand a new, cool product: a greener Apple."

To which Apple puts up a front page article purporting to be from Steve Jobs himself, refuting the claims of Greenpeace.

Apple has been criticized by some environmental organizations for not being a leader in removing toxic chemicals from its new products, and for not aggressively or properly recycling its old products. Upon investigating AppleĆ¢€™s current practices and progress towards these goals, I was surprised to learn that in many cases Apple is ahead of, or will soon be ahead of, most of its competitors in these areas.

Now the bottom line is this. Greenpeace are basing all of their information, claiming that Apple is behind the curve in terms of their green credentials, on public marketing statements by companies. The alternative would be to conduct actual research which I think history tells us has never been a strong-point of Greenpeace when some ill thought-out sloganeering will do just as well.
Now Greenpeace latched straight onto this response and claimed victory with this statement:

"Today we saw something we've all been waiting for: the words "A Greener Apple" on the front page of Apple's site, with a message from Steve Jobs saying 'Today we're changing our policy'."

Which essentially sums up all that Greenpeace is, I think. They're obviously Mac users and they've chosen a high profile target, not for any actual properly research belief that Apple are worse than any other company, but mostly as a pet subject and a marketing campaign. Then when Apple comes out and flatly denies Greenpeace's claims, Greenpeace quotes Jobs out of context and claims the "today we're changing our policy" thing is anything to do with their environmental policy, when in fact Jobs was actually talking about their communication strategy on exactly what Apple are doing.
All this is on a backdrop of the fact that pretty much all of the things Jobs lists as Apple initiatives are things that are being done by the industry anyway like dumping CRTs and removing other hazardous materials which their manufacturing contractors are doing anyway to meet RoHS leglislation. So it's not like there's been some incredible new wave environmental policy from Apple at all, they're just doing the same stuff the entire industry is. They were, being Apple, just less communicative about what was happening versus the famously prolific press release machine gunners of the rest of the IT industry.
And for this Greenpeace targets them with unwarranted claims and when the truth is outted, turns around and claims victory. I think this is the hallmarks of an organisation which is essentially a marketing outfit. Nothing of consequence has been achieved here other than making some people aware of the larger measures being taken in the IT industry, and making Greenpeace look like a bunch of jobs spewing propaganda in the eyes of the mass market of the new environmentally conscious public. I'm not sure that appearing credible has ever really been on their agenda though, has it?
My pet issue is the fact that they're actually opposing Fusion power research which they call an "an expensive and senseless nuclear stupidity" (apparently we should use the money to build wind farms - lol). For that alone they need to be ostracised and relegated to the dustbin of loony crackpots.
Why does not Greenpeace go after world governments who are lagging behind the EU RoHS initiative? This is what really makes a difference to the entire industry, far more than the public statements of the manufacturer of the computer they happen to like. I'll tell you why. It would require some research beyond scanning press releases on web sites. I think just 2 or 3 people at Greenpeace came up with this whole thing including the designer guy (and his Mac) that lashed up the hilarious green-o-meter diagram. Then again, that's apparently all it takes to get something in the news so I guess I can answer the question and by sayinig that it looks like Greenpeace will be around for a long time yet.


  1. Greenpeace do seem to be out of touch. Picking Apple as a target is bizzare, as apple are largely responsible for the mass market shift to downloadable music and video which is having a massive effect on sales of disgusting plastic disks.
    Your right about nuclear, a point not lossed on Dr Moore, the co-founder and past leader of greenpeace who's now supporting nuclear as the only viable replacement for fossil fuels.

  2. A key point here I think is that Greenpeace have gone after Apple, who they claim to love. Hoping, I guess, to get the sort of fanboy fanatacism of Apple to rub off onto Greenpeace in some sense. Yet what they actually did was go after an audience which, perhaps, thinks a bit more than the usual unwashed hippy activist, and quoted this group's hero out of context and claiming a victory that wasn't there.
    I think if anything that's an own goal. It's going to negatively impact upon the Apple fan base's view of Greenpeace. Another demonstration of a lack of thought process at Greenpeace I guess.

  3. Apparently as an apple user I'm "typically more affluent and more likely to be interested in environmental issues" :)
    Better get that burning tyre off the barbie eh lotts!
    I thought Greenpeace was just something nonsense degree students did in their gap year..

  4. Well if they can make Steve Jobs feel under enough pressure to go research the issue and come back with a rebuttal then I guess they do still have some relevance.. even if they are loonies. :)

  5. You mean if Apple's marketing department felt this way and generated the copy with Job's signature on it then yeah :-)

  6. I wanna know how come you were writing blogs about Greenpeace that you finished and posted at 6.43 A.M.!!