Apple Gets Greener With Launch of MacBook Air

by , 01/15/08

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Like Greenpeace, we’ve been on Apple’s case for awhile now in regards to the sustainability issue. We just don’t understand how it is that a company that has been so groundbreaking in terms of product design, could lag so behind the curve in terms of sustainable design. And of course, just like a nagging parent, we are only hard on Apple because we love them and want to see them do better (as you might suspect, the whole Inhabitat team uses Macs, and we’d all love to be able to find greener, more energy efficient Macs to support our blogging habits). Well, we are happy to say that Apple finally seems to be going in the right direction, and has wowed us today with the launch of their stunning new laptop, the MacBook Air.

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This gorgeous new laptop is EPEAT Silver certified and the greenest Mac Laptop to date, with the following features:

* it has a fully recyclable aluminum case
* it’s Apple’s first LCD display that is mercury-free, with arsenic-free glass
* the circuit boards are BFR-free and PVC-free
* 50 percent less packaging than the previous MacBooks
* Meets ENERGY STAR requirements
* EPEAT Silver Rating

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The super thin and light laptop also means that it’s easier to lug around than its predecessors, and certainly a lot easier to ship (cutting down carbon emissions in the shipping process).

Yes, it’s not the greenest computer ever, but its certainly the greenest Apple ever, and we like to encourage progress in the right direction, especially when its accompanied by beautiful product design. Since Apple is such an innovation driver and so massively influential in terms of consumer culture, we think that these baby steps are extremely significant, as they will likely influence many imitator companies to think about their green design strategy as well. So kudos to Apple! We look forward to seeing these in the flesh.

+ Apple MacBook Air

+ Apple Opens Up to Green
+ Green My Apple, Green My Future

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  1. Tracy cole August 17, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Yeah this cool I like this post are you going to do a follow up? I just won a Mac Book Air today :) I am so happy about that found a freebee site

  2. MacBook Air: greenest A... March 11, 2008 at 9:06 am

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  3. Mattes January 20, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Enthusiast: You are of course right in saying that one can’t expect wonders from a notebook weighing less than 1,4kg, and I did not want to imply that. It’s just less green than the competition. As I mentioned, the lack of user-replacable (= way cheaper) parts like battery,disk and ram lessens the financial incentive to increase the lifetime of the device by another year by upgrading these parts. And other vendors show that this is possible: notebooks from the IBM/Lenovo X Series weigh 0-50 grams more and offer these features (see . Of course they look different, thats a matter of personal taste.

  4. Edge January 19, 2008 at 5:27 am

    If you’re buying a computer, wouldn’t it be more environmentally friendly to buy one that uses LESS materials? Buy a Dell tower that SO upgradeable, and you’re using a LOT of plastic, metal, and hazardous stuff. But a MacBook Air and you’re using a VERY small amount of metal, plastic, and hazardous stuff. Sure, not buying one is the most environmentally friendly option, but if you’re buying, seems like the best option out there!

  5. Enthusiast January 19, 2008 at 4:44 am

    Ben, exactly my thoughts on that.

    People these days just tend to do nothing but take things for granted. They want and expect to see as many things as possible, as customizable as possible, because that’s just what this industry has grown into, in a sense, while not even really requiring these “necessities.”

    Personally, being in the graphic design field, this machine would serve me well with most of my needs. 2GB of RAM for this kind of a machine is just fine – that’s how much I have on my desktop computer. It would do well with portability, clearly, and when not portable, you can fuse it into some kind of a desktop solution if your “needs” aren’t as heavy as mine would tend to get.

    Thank you,

  6. ben January 18, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    everyone is screaming about the damn notebook not being upgradable!

    When the hell did someone upgrade there dell/hp/toshiba/Lenovo/Benq and a whole host of other notebooks???

    I can tell you, the only upgrade you can do on my dell is replace the ram and the hard drive/optical drive
    And even then you gotta go through dell for the parts for everything except the ram!!!!!

    So stop running around squealing about non-upgradability and get over it!

  7. Enthusiast January 17, 2008 at 2:49 pm


    I am an avid reader of, and I love reading articles about all the different stuff every day! I have looked into this whole deal with Apple, and I have thought about it a good deal.

    I have read around many technology blogs, seeing too much of the same thing, repeatedly; People saying it’s overpriced, non-upgradeable, not really green, and complaining about the internal processes of manufacturing. If this is such a concern, why don’t you just give Apple PR a call and see what they have to say, and do some further research into it?

    Phil, that is probably the most negative thing I have read about Apple, and their efforts to go green and develop more efficient products. Now, even if the computer was “waste” after 2 years, it’s the owner’s job to properly take of the “waste,” since it is your property. Here we see Apple trying to make a difference taking whatever baby steps it can, using LED displays, PVC free plastics, easily recyclable aluminum, and you are calling it a fabrication mechanism. That’s not really fair, is it? Put yourself in Apple’s shoes, how would you feel about people responding similar to this about your efforts to make a difference?

    Realistically, when you’re on the go, do you really plug in multiple peripherals in the computer? Do you really need to lug around an extra battery that you’d have to shut the computer down for anyway? I mean, electric outlets are pretty much everywhere now – even in cars!

    I’ve even heard from some people that Apple’s green doings are exaggerated and they’re not as “green” as it sounds like it is. Rather that is true or not, at least it’s SOME effort, and more companies should be attempting it.

    I stand strong with Apple’s efforts to go green, and as technology advances, it will become more easier to be greener. I also stand strong with Apple’s decisions they are making technologically with hardware, software, and services. They have a very “plant a tree and watch it grow” type of a methodology, which has been proven to work several times. I am willing to elaborate on the technicalities of the steps Apple are taking, so if anyone’s interested, lemme know. :)

    All the best,

  8. Mattes January 17, 2008 at 6:09 am

    This product is typical apple greenwashing. They did not even mention whether the mainboard is lead free. The case is made of aluminium (everyone here knows its hard to find a less green material). As other commentors mentioned: no user replacable hard disk or battery (failing this makes this product a mere toy, no use for mobile business) -> in 3 years it is economically irrational to not toss this one and buy a new notebook. Regarding vendor lock-in, apple really is the microsoft of hardware: I recently had to replace a hard disk of an ibook, it took me 4 hours and involved over 40 screws. Compare this with my age-old thinkpad x20: Changing the the battery: one snap. Changing the harddisk: unscrewing one screw, takes about sixty seconds. Connectiviy is on a mini-pci card, making it upgradable (by a geek). Replacements for _every_ part of the machine still available from the ibm webshop. Weighs only 100 grams more than this notebook. And is _seven_ years old.

    It is ok if you like the design of this product. Calling it green is evidently false, though.

  9. metis January 16, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    it’s been said but well worth repeating that this thing is pretty, but not green.

    it’s not upgradeable, and the only reason to buy apple products now that they’re on intel architecture is they’re pretty. they don’t do a thing better than win xp, or many linux builds, and security through obscurity isn’t.

    other vendors make MUCH greener, lower footprint machines that are upgradeable and play well with others.

    wake up and smell the digital coffee. open architecture and open source are generally greener in terms of distributed workload interoperability (my widget dies so i put in a replacement widget instead of buy a whole new machine)

    apple does charge more for it’s parts. on average 150~200% more for hardware, and if you think the installation labour isn’t priced into the replacement of a part i’ve got a nice bridge to sell you.

  10. Ben Schiendelman January 16, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    DH, the battery is replaceable, it’s just not user-replaceable. In addition, Apple isn’t charging for labor, just the part, when replacing the battery. This also guarantees that Apple is the one who disposes of the old battery – which is exactly what we want.

    Apple isn’t asking significantly more money than their competition for similar products.

  11. Phil January 16, 2008 at 8:44 am

    One thing all computrer manufacturers are still failing to address is the structural obsolesence they build into their machines. After only a few years, you have to throw the whole computer away, because each indivual component is not upgradable separately. Not to mention the so called “improvements” in design which are actually nothing but a mechanism to create a fabricated market, thus creating more consumption and more waste. At least its a start though.

  12. superman January 16, 2008 at 2:45 am

    not excited about the MacWorld 08 expo updates. they are trying to be green from the outside. that’s good that they are trying. On the other hand, i wonder if the factories in mainland china are green. how much Apple is paying the manufacturers, and how much do the workers get. how much is this skinny “girl” cost? Apple is making WAY too much money from being/trying to be green.

  13. EC January 15, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    It maybe the greenest apple yet, but I can’t help but think this akin to an over-priced, somewhat impractical piece of jewelry gadget (go consumerism!). At such an expensive price for the 1.6GHz (or at almost double that for 1.8GHz with 64SDD instead of hard disk) and with no optical drive, I find it hard to imagine what market this is targeted at.

  14. DH January 15, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Their baby steps away from toxic materials are great, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that this thing is non-upgradeable, the battery is nonreplaceable, and each one is guaranteed to be e-waste in 2 years or less.

  15. Blake January 15, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    WOW! ..

    Apple, you just know what we want .. But what we want sometimes we just can’t afford .. :-(

    Kuddhos to the movers and shakers at Apple.


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