Ecomedia Objects Unveiled: Analyzing the Ecological Impact of Apple's iPhone

Published: 2024-01-27
Ecomedia Objects Unveiled: Analyzing the Ecological Impact of Apple's iPhone
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Company Business Media
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1749 words
15 min read

Ecomedia objects have generally agreed upon features, but their meanings and functions change based on the context. Ecomedia objects such as gadgets, media texts, platforms, and hyperobjects impact the environment from their production to use. In the case of a smartphone, its purpose is based according to the producer, designer, app developers, and users. Ecomedia objects are a disturbance to the ecomedia system. Smartphones have greatly changed our day-to-day lives and the world at large in dramatic ways. Apple’s iPhones have advanced features and regular upgrades that entice customers. However, their manufacturing processes and supply chain rely on dangerous mining practices and chemicals, high energy consumption, and poor designs. Apple attempts to be environmentally conscious in producing and recycling its products to reduce climate change. This essay analyzes Apple’s iPhone, according to ecoculture, political ecology, ecomateriality and lifeworld, ecomediasphere perspectives.

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Minerals from the earth are incorporated into ecomedia objects such as gadgets like Apple phones. They disproportionately and adversely affect the ecology by taking inputs from the earth such as logging, mining, and drilling as well as outputs from the earth like water, air, and land. Therefore, the planet’s geology is an essential part of ecomedia objects. They leave an ecological footprint from their production, use, and disposal (López 2020). Besides, the data that the devices access and store “in the cloud” further physically pollute the environment. Smartphones contain application softwares dependent on the farm’s servers, which rely on water for energy production and cooling (López 2020).

Ecoculture is the cultural meaning and significance of ecomedia objects. It explores environmental ideologies and intercultural dialogue to determine the association between different cultural practices (in technology and media) and diverse ecological values and the environment (Lopez 2020). The purpose of creating the iPhones is to give customers a premium smartphone according to their demand. Apple promotes consumerism through its built-in obsolescence. The iPhones have shorter lifespans, can break easily, and repairs are limited. It makes frequent upgrades and has increasingly made smartphones less upgradable and repairable to encourage consumers to purchase brand new phones (Alvarez 2017).

Although Apple has claimed that it has taken necessary steps to reduce its carbon print and shift to 100% renewable energy, it has been accused of greenwashing. This is mainly because of its design flaws since the iPhones cannot be easily repaired or upgraded. It has been accused of portraying an environmentally conscious image, but its practices are against its claims. Its competitors, such as Dell, even accused Apple of wild claims about its environmentally friendly products. Additionally, Apple has come under fire for pumping its data centers with coal despite trumpeting solar-powered (Stephen 2012). Besides, Apple continues to push the strategy for “buy one every year” to increase its income margins increasing un-recycled smartphones and depleting natural resources with massive production (Cawley 2020).

Political ecology is how the ecomedia objects are produced and function within the larger global economic system. Apple is a for-profit organization and produces iPhones. Apple is part of the technology oligarchy. It holds a significant market share both in e-commerce and the smartphone sector. It is among the five largest companies alongside Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google (Andriole 2018). Therefore, Apple has concentrated power on regulation, consumers, and the environment as well through its products. Apple is connected to the carbon economy because its iPhones are made from carbon fuels contributing to climate change. It takes note of its carbon footprint and stated a 35% absolute reduction in 2019. Apple focuses on low-carbon design and energy efficiency to reduce its ecological footprint (, 2019).

The production of Apple phones relies on electricity as a source of energy. According to (Cook & Jardim 2017), since the first iPhone was made in 2007, about 908 TWh have been used to produce smartphones only. However, in recent years, Apple has committed itself to 100% renewable energy sources by operating energy-intensive data centers. Apple set a target to deploy 4 GW of renewable energy associated with its supply chain globally (, 2019). It has extended this by encouraging its suppliers to commit near-term targets to become a hundred percent renewably powered for the energy demand (Cook & Jardim 2017). Apple is exclusive to a particular platform, that is, Apple Store, and continues to design products with proprietary parts to minimize access. Apple iPhones are dependent on the global supply chain of gadgets. It has suppliers and retail stores worldwide, including Asia, North America, Europe, South America, and Australia (, 2020).

Ecomateriality is the ecomedia’s impact on the environment and the importance of its material properties. It is their objective material conditions and technological apparatus. Apple utilizes a vast technological infrastructure to make their devices work. The production of iPhones leads to the emission of a significant proportion of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Apple has committed itself to reduce emissions. It has invested in emission reduction programs to reduce its impact on the environment and climate change ( 2020).

Apple has been attempting to reduce the use of conflict minerals. It was ranked the best among American Alphabet and European Fairphone in policies pertaining to conflict minerals. This is partly due to the United States Dodd-Frank Act, which requires publicly listed companies to report their sourcing of conflict minerals (Crumbie 2019). Apple has been criticized for exploiting labor in producing its devices. This is especially in its Chinese Foxconn plant. Apple utilized the opportunity to exploit workers in China because it lacks strong laborer’s rights legislation. Apple has phased out the use of toxic chemicals such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs), phthalates, and PVC from its iPhones (Crumbie 2019).

The lifeworld aspect focuses on how ecomedia objects affect individuals' sense of space, time, and place. The production of Apple smartphone results in physical health risks. Batteries are produced from cobalt, and other common minerals such as tungsten, tin, tantalum, and gold, which pose significant health hazards to the miners. They encounter extreme safety risks such as the potential of collapse of underground pits and inadequate ventilation in the attempt to reach the harder-to-reach natural resources (Cook & Jardim 2017).

Additionally, cell phones can increase physical health risks like brain cancer, as was declared by the WHO in 2011. This is because cell phones carried directly against the body expose the users to microwave radiation. As a result, it impacts our physical health and the electromagnetic environment (Consumers for Safe Phones, 2018). Therefore, iPhone use and other mobile phones pose significant negative health risks to users. Apple should increase awareness of this as well as include the warning in the manuals and make the customers aware. However, the biggest risk is the use of mobile phones, either texting or calling, while driving, which increases the possibility of an accident.

The issue of smartphone use and mental health has been articulated in studies. The continued use of iPhones and other phones can lead to addiction, which is the urge to scroll in the newsfeeds, and check notifications. This can cause a major distraction to useful activities like studying, work, and family time. I have witnessed people in my close circle, including friends and family, addicted to their phones. Their phone use has become problematic, depriving them of time to do what matters. Personally, my phone is a substantial attention taker. Although I cannot consider myself addicted to my phone, I am often distracted by it.

Smartphones can both create a sense of alienation and connection. They are a great device to connect with family and friends even over long distances. This is because cell phones have enhanced communication, and people can build effective connections. Nonetheless, dependence on smartphones alienates people from their social circles as people became overly fixed to their phones (Liu & Zhu 2019). My sensory experience of the iPhone begins from its packaging to the images, lights, and texts.

Ecomedia gadgets fuel climate change. The need to increase smartphones' complex use leads to consumption of energy, increasing the businesses energy footprint. This is because most gadgets are largely dependent on the dirty sources of energy powered by coal and other sources. The manufacturing of smartphones from resource extraction to assembly contributes to large emissions of greenhouse gases. The metals required are usually mined, destroying the biodiversity and consuming huge sums of fossil fuels and water in their extraction and processing (Crumbie 2019). The consumer electronics industry is among the largest contributor to the ecological footprint. The extraction of minerals and metals as well as the release of greenhouse gases and other wastes in landfills due to their disposal leads to pollution, resource overexploitation, and climate change. The increase in ecological footprint by humanity causes pressure on the Earth's capacity to regenerate and results in the Earth Overshoot (Global Footprint Network 2016).

In conclusion, ecomedia gadgets like smartphones are not helping to create a more healthy media ecosystem. The manufacturing of the gadgets involves invisible infrastructure that adversely impacts the ecosystem. Smartphones are made up of metals, plastics, and ceramics. They also consist of conflict minerals like tin, gold, tantalum, and tungsten; nickel and silver in the circuit board; and cobalt, copper, and zinc in the battery. Therefore, the extraction of these natural resources, their processing, and assembling, impact the environment. The mass production of smartphones to meet the consumer demand and replenish their short lifespans diminishes finite resources and pollutes the environment through leakages during manufacturing and disposal. However, manufacturers are committing to conserve the environment through sustainable production. In Apple's case, it should produce modular phones to enable the users to upgrade and repair them when they break or problems arise. This will actualize its sustainability measures because it will increase the iPhones' life cycle, reducing the need for consumers to purchase new phones every time rather than its built-in obsolescence. Although This, in turn, will enable Apple to reduce its carbon footprint further. Apple is doing a great job in being environmentally conscious; it should avoid instances of greenwashing and truly go green and transparent about its supply chain and suppliers' pollution like Fairphone.

References, (2020). Environmental Progress Report., (2019). Environmental Responsibility Report

Alvarez, L. M. (2017). How Apple Gives Our Consumerist Society No Choice and No Space. Medium.

Andriole, S. (2018). Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook Own Huge Market Shares, equals to Technology Oligarchy. Forbes.

Cawley, C. (2020). Big Tech and Climate Change Action- Real Change or Greenwashing?

Cook, G., & Jardim, E. (2017). Guide to Greener Electronics. GreenPeace.

Consumers for Safe Phones, (2018). Exposing the Industry’s Lies About Cell Phone Radiation.

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Ecomedia Objects Unveiled: Analyzing the Ecological Impact of Apple's iPhone. (2024, Jan 27). Retrieved from

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