What it is: Corporate environmental responsibility means making money and taking care of the environment at the same time.
Apple recently partnered with an environmental non-profit foundation to preserve 36,000 acres of forestland that can be sustainably harvested to develop packaging materials for Apple in the future. This not only gives Apple a guaranteed supply of materials, but also lowers their cost in the long run.
Apple also made a deal to purchase electricity from a solar farm as well as working to make an environmentally-friendly corporate campus that will recycle water and use energy efficiently. This simply lowers their own costs running and maintaining their buildings.
Apple builds computer products designed to be as recyclable as possible without harmful chemicals. Apple has also worked with contractors in the past to improve worker conditions and wages in other countries as well as in the United States.
The real question is why is Apple doing all this? There are two reasons. First, it’s good public relations. Second, and more importantly, it saves money in the long run. In the short-term, environmental initiatives often cost money, which is why so many companies avoid them, even if it promises long term savings in the future.
Saving money will allow Apple to compete more efficiently by funneling money towards research instead of throwing money away buying electricity from dirty energy sources or building products that become toxic to the environment afterwards.
Although saving money is the main goal of Apple’s environmental initiatives, the secondary and also crucial goal is to promote the company to attract the higher class of customers who care about the environment. This indirectly translates into reaching a wealthier class of customers.
When you buy an Apple product, you can feel good about yourself that your product is highly recyclable and the workers who made it were fairly paid under decent working conditions. When you look at products made by other companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, or Samsung, you can assume the following in comparison:
- While Apple cares about the workers of its contractors, other companies don’t and have spent decades ignoring the problems just to lower their own costs. Unsafe worker conditions and unfair wages are just the cost of keeping the company’s own costs low enough so they can make a profit, regardless of the effect it might have on others.
- While Apple designs highly recyclable products, other companies don’t because they’re more concerned with keeping costs down so they use the cheapest materials possible even if they are toxic to the environment or the workers who assemble them. The bottom line of other companies is to keep their own costs down while polluting the environment since protecting the environment costs money and that’s the last thing other companies want to do.
- While Apple insures that their own buildings recycle water and use energy efficiently while purchasing electricity from clean energy sources, other companies don’t care because they just want to focus on making profits, regardless of the impact on others.
When you buy an Apple product, you can feel good that you’re getting a good product that minimizes the impact on the world. When you buy a rival product, you can pretend that it wasn’t made by underpaid workers in another country risking their lives to put together cheap materials that will pollute the environment after the product is no longer useful several years from now. Then you can also pretend that the company that makes the cheap product isn’t wasting electricity in their own corporate headquarters and polluting the environment because not polluting the environment would cost them money and risk lowering the company’s profits.
So the next time you see someone touting the benefits of a rival product, ask them if they’re happy exploiting workers in other countries, polluting the environment, poisoning workers, and wasting precious resources just so the company that made that product can squeak out another penny of profits at the long-term cost of wrecking the environment and condemning thousands of workers in other countries to a life of misery and poverty so others can buy a cheap smartphone or PC.
That’s why Apple cares about the environment because it saves money and it’s great for attracting customers. That’s why rival companies don’t care about the environment because they only care about their own profits right now and they don’t care about their workers or their customers.
If you like the idea of being ignored, exploited, and helping spread toxic waste to poison the environment so you can save a few bucks, then feel free to purchase products by other companies. Otherwise, you can always buy an Apple product.