How green are the new MacBooks?
Having eliminated many toxic chemicals, boosted energy efficiency, and improved recyclability, Apple says that its new MacBooks are the greenest ever.
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All these qualities might help Apple boost their ratings from Greenpeace. The environmental advocacy group consistently dings the company for their chemicals and e-waste policies, as well as for failing to disclose their products carbon footprints. In its most recent Green Electronics report, released last month, Greenpeace gave Apple a rating of only 4.1 out of 10, placing it 13th out of the 18 electronic companies it reviewed. In the past, CEO Steve Jobs suggested that Apple's low ratings have more to do with the company's secrecy than its practices.Skip to next paragraph
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So, if you're trying to buy the greenest possible notebook computer, is a new MacBook the way to go? The new laptops are probably Apple's greenest offering to date, but it's hard to say how it stacks up to non-Apple competitors. If you can stomach the Windows operating system (disclosure: I can't) then I think you'd be better off going with the Sony Vaio TZ, which got top marks from Greenpeace this year for being free of beryllium. Apple says that it plans to phase out the toxic
heavy metal, but it has not yet set a timeline for doing so. [Note: I incorrectly referred to beryllium as a "toxic heavy metal." It's toxic, and it's a metal, but it's not considered one of the heavy metals. Indeed, it's the fourth lightest element.]
But an even more eco-friendly choice would be the XO, the computer given out as part of the One Laptop Per Child project. What's that you say? You're not an impoverished Uruguayan child? No worries: starting Nov. 17, you can participate in the charity's "give one, get one" program in which, for $400, you buy two laptops, one for yourself, and one for a kid in the developing world.
But the most environmentally friendly option would be to wait a little longer to buy that new computer. Even the most eco-friendly ones out there still require large amounts of energy to produce and ship. Chances are, the greenest computer is the one you're already using.
Update: Greenpeace has weighed in on the new MacBooks. Read what they have to say here.