Technology brings the latest and greatest of all products to the consumer market. It is hard to imagine how such innovation could be detrimental, but it does provide threats that are often overlooked. The new iPhone 6 advertisement not only sells the latest version of phones from Apple, but it promotes health. The culture within the United States if growing towards awareness of healthy living. The obesity epidemic is growing, and companies are doing their part address the issue. But this small attempt by Apple Inc. does not address the environmental and health hazards associated with electronics. Company’s such as Apple Inc. creates products that sell themselves, implementing a persuasive message complies with company’s need to advertise a product while fulfilling their social responsibility is the company’s duty to their consumers.
Apple’s position to provide an underlying message in their advertising was a great start, but it does not even begin to touch the true issues that are associate with products that Apple Inc. manufacture. “In the United States, it is estimated that more than 70 percent of discarded computers and monitors, and well over 80 percent of TVs, eventually end up in landfills, despite a growing number of state laws that prohibit dumping of e-waste, which may leak lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium, and other toxics into the ground” (Carroll). The discarded electronics are sent overseas for disposal, in underdeveloped countries. “We in the developed world get the benefit from these devices,” says Jim Puckett, head of Basel Action Network, or BAN, a group that opposes hazardous waste shipments to developing nations. “But when our equipment becomes unusable, we externalize the real environmental costs and liabilities to the developing world” (Carroll). Out with the old, and in with the new.
Apple Inc. advertisement for their new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus helps with the health issues that are rising in the United States, but that is not enough. The need for environmental and social change is vital for the future of society. “Interestingly, much of the current conversation around human influences focuses on downstream impacts: greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, less focus is concentrated on upstream impacts, or where we get out resources” (Gordon). This provides a significant awareness that perhaps the focus is not where it truly needs to be.
The question arises as to where the electronic industry comes into play regarding the environment and social impacts worldwide. Take for example eastern Congo. This is one of the lead underdeveloped areas in the world, yet jewelry, computers, mobile phones and gaming systems are fueling the existing fight taking place here. “Militia control many of the resource mines, and they are responsible for wide-scale sexual violence, village terrorism, and general instability in the region” (Gordon). The widespread demand for consumer electronics dictates the need for many of the Congolese minerals resulting in the rebel’s ability to continually fuel their war. This is overlooked on many occasions when we are standing in line to get the latest version of the iPhone or the new gaming system.
The environment that technology is manufactured in also poses a threat to workers who create the product that we have grown to love. Foxconn a factory in China manufactures parts for companies like HP, Nintendo, Apple, and Sony. This factory has had many employee suicides due to the working environment that is provided. “We were put to work without any training, and paid piecemeal,” said one of the protesting workers, who asked not to be named. “The assembly line ran very fast and after just one morning we all had blisters and the skin on our hand was black. The factory was also really choked with dust and no one could bear it” (Moore). The need for new technology should not be at the cost of other’s lives.
Company’s such as Apple Inc. creates products that sell themselves, implementing a persuasive message complies with company’s need to advertise a product while fulfilling their social responsibility is the company’s duty to their consumers. Apple Inc.’s advertising message addressed an issue of obesity within the United States, but not the growing issues worldwide. They are responsible for the environmental damage that is taking place worldwide. Supporting war, work environments that are killing the employees, and further damaging under developed countries. The advertisement fails to promote greater issues, and this is a change that is necessary for all technology companies.
- Carroll, Chris. High Tech Trash. National Geographic, 2008. Print.
- Gordon, Pierce. OP-ED: Electronic Exploitation: The Hidden Cost of the Electronics Boom. 19 Nov. 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
- Moore, Malcom. ‘Mass suicide’ protest at Apple manufacturer Foxconn factory. 11 Jan. 2012. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.