Unless you’ve been living in a cave the past few weeks, you probably know about Apple‘s new iPad, which was just unveiled moments ago. We’re excited for the iPad’s release, but we still have to ask: how green is it?

ipad, apple, ipod, steve jobs

The tablet will, of course, save some trees from being chopped down — that’s the benefit of any e-reader that replaces print media. But at the same time, the Center for Sustainable Communications in Stockholm, Sweden, recently conducted a study showing that reading a newspaper on a computer for 30 minutes can have the same carbon dioxide emissions as a printed newspaper. And as anyone who follows Greenpeace’s Guide to Electronics knows, electronics don’t always get recycled properly.

But what about the iPad? The iPod touch-like device can be used to watch movies and TV shows and has full access to the iTunes store (and a built-in iPod). That means many of the more energy-intensive things we rely on laptops to do can be accessed on the smaller iPad, which weighs just 1.5 pounds, has a 9.7 inch display, and is .5 inches thin. And the impressive 10 hour battery life means that the device doesn’t need to be hooked up to an outlet for nearly as long as a standard laptop. The iPad’s 30-day standby battery life means that it rarely needs to be plugged in at night, too. And according to Steve Jobs, the iPad is arsenic-free, BFR-free, mercury-free, PVC-free, and is highly recyclable.

Still, few people are likely to replace their iPods or laptops with the iPad. So we have to wonder — is this really anything more than an unnecessary luxury item?

+ Apple