Thursday 23 June 2011

Two steps to be a more eco-friendly, Mac-user in South Africa

Written for eco-conscious Apple Macintosh fans (rather than PC fanboys & other Mac haters)

My 90's-era iMac's use bears testimony to the durability of Apple's product design. From personal experience, a major benefit of buying Mac is that the premium paid on its product is often recouped by their reliability and longevity; plus ease of re-sale, freecycling and recycling. This is good for the environment and is increasingly becoming a feature in Apple's marketing (witness "the greenest line-up of notebooks"). Post-Greenpeace's online campaign, Apple's international (.com) website now features an impressive environmental section; many of the environmental concerns raised by Greenpeace have been taken seriously and the reporting processes that Apple put in place is an impressive first in the computing industry.

While Apple is working hard to improve its environmental footprint internationally, there is scope for local Mac-users to Lead SA. In particular; we can insist on part-repairs (versus replacements) and to encourage Apple retailers to recycle our old Macs:

1 Get parts repaired, not replaced.
It seems that the Core Group and Apple's independent retailers have an unwritten policy to tell users to replace faulty components, rather than attempting repair. While this may be expedient and best for their bottom line, it results in environmental skidmarks :( ! This policy is unlikely to change*; locally, the Core Group does not support the establishment of repair centers in our cities. They are unlikely to be pressurized into changing; Apple does not report on spare parts sales in their Carbon footprint, given its focus on the most intensive cycle; production. So, all this places the onus on us Mac-users to insist on being directed to technicians that can repair parts, rather than going straight for replacement. In addition to saving us money and reducing our Carbon footprint, this is also proudly South African in supporting local technicians with growing second-hand-Mac repair businesses.

2 Encourage your retailer to assist with recycling old products
Before you buy from a retailer's store, you should check that sales staff will help you recycle your old equipment. Although Apple does have a recycling program that incentivises new buyers in select territories, this is not in South Africa. By insisting that retailers recycle, you contribute indirectly to retailers making local incentivisation a reality.

I'll step off my soap box, now.

* P.S. Much as I would like Apple to launch an incentives-based recycling program in SA and believe its carbon footprint report should include spare parts and repair-savings, I'm not beating on Apple or the Core Group's doors: a conversation with Apple (the least "social media" of companies) is close to impossible; their brand IS the conversation. And expecting talks with the Core Group to yield international results, is like expecting Renfield to adjust Count Dracula's behaviour!

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