It’s Apple Day, and for once, I don’t have to take on the usual role of climate journalists completely raining on the parade of people hypebeasting the new iPhone.
I mean, look, of course you should run your old iPhone into the ground instead of buying a new one if you value a habitable planet and not foisting your conspicuous consumption habits onto the backs of poor communities tasked with mining the metals and constructing a new phone you don’t need while dealing with the waste created by you getting rid of your old but perfectly good phone, you monstrous bastard. But if you actually need a new phone and order the iPhone 12, you’ll be getting a lighter ethical load than usual.
The company announced it will no longer ship iPhones with headphones or wall chargers. To which I say, thank the lord. This is like the lowest of low-hanging fruits in the e-waste world, and Apple is finally plucking it. (Congratulations, you’ve just consumed your fruit quota for the day by reading that sentence.)
Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, said during today’s event that there are currently 700 million Lightning headphones and 2 billion wall adapters in circulation. That’s a lot of plastic and metal already out in the wild, getting lost, trashed, or tossed in junk drawers. (I estimate about 12,448 of those headsets are in mine.)
Frankly, Apple’s out-of-the-box headphones are pretty bad, and, at least for my ears, really uncomfortable. They also don’t work with any other device that has a 3.5 millimeter jack, which includes Apple’s own laptops. In short, they’re among the most useless items Apple creates, and yet the company has continued to ship them with iPhones for years.