July 10, 2007

So Much for a Greener Apple

Steve Jobs is killin' me. After a rather lengthy and well-publicized attempt at demonstrating Apple's environmental policies, the computer giant goes and releases the iPhone all bundled up in superfluous packaging. This is a perfect example of not walking the talk.

To wit:
An external box that measures approximately 2-3 times the size of the internal components;

A box inside a box (is that second box actually doing anything that the first box couldn't?);

An internal box made from two separate same-sized components (a bottom and a removable top);

A phone set inside a plastic tray resting on top of...

A set of manuals contained within a folded sleeve resting on top of a...

Plastic tray holding phone components.
I will certainly concede that the overall look is sleek and sexy, but it's screamingly obvious to me that Apple's graphic design team suffers from overdesigneritis. Designers should be asking themselves what we can do to reduce the amount of raw materials used, the energy required to produce and ship our packaging, and the amount of waste now headed to landfills across the country, not what can we do to increase those things?

I get that Apple is known for their sleek and sexy packaging. But this kind of look actually lends itself to the less is more aesthetic, so reducing the amount of packaging "stuff" would actually reinforce that look. I also get that Apple is trying to create an experience out of the opening of the package, as if it were a Christmas gift. But this can be done without multiple layers of materials and unnecessary trays. Self-contained boxes with multiple folds (think a self-mailing envelope) produce this effect, for example.

Us consumers vote with our dollars. Look for the following details when making your purchases, and don't hesitate to demand change from the companies you buy stuff from:
Less packaging overall: Avoid over-packaged items with multiple layers of stuff.

Recycled packaging: Make sure the materials used to package the stuff you buy is itself made from recycled paper, plastic or other materials.

Recyclable packaging: Any packaging that you can throw in the recycle bin instead of the trash is a better deal. I recently purchased orange juice in a plastic container only to discover it was no. 6 plastic (not recyclable in my city); bad move on my part.

Biodegradable packaging: More and more packaging is being made from biodegardable, corn-based plastics. This stuff is AWESOME but it's not always well-marked (Trader Joe's has been packaging a lot of their produce with biodegradable plastic trays).
Finally, I can't speak to whether or not Apple is using recyclable materials in its plastic and paper packaging, so if anyone who has purchased an iPhone would like to let me know, please do.

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1 Comment(s)

Blogger Hersh Bhardwaj said...

You must have heard of Sir Richard Branson of Virigin. Similar to your reference to Steve jobs's hypocritic actions in not walking the talk, Sir Branson has been championing the green cause shamelessly.He pans out Virgin Gallectica, where super-rich guys can tour space for a few hundred thousands dollar a trip. Anyone's guess the fuel-consumption and other envirmental issues, leave alone the neccessity of the whole thing.

9:07 AM  

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