At Fortune's recent Brainstorm Green conference, Apple VP of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson spoke about her role at Apple and the company's green initiatives, reports Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Apple 2.0. Jackson joined Apple's executive team last year and formerly served as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
After a brief discussion of Jackson's background and Apple's green achievements, the highlight of the 16-minute interview occurs when Jackson was questioned by Patagonia's environmental chief Rick Ridgeway. Ridgeway inquired how Apple can boast about reducing its carbon footprint on individual products, when its overall footprint increases each year as the business grows. After chuckling about being "put on the spot," Jackson responded seriously:
Listen, if all of us sustainability professionals have to resort to "make and sell less stuff" as the answer to the problem, then we are suffering from an extraordinary lack of imagination. And innovation. One of the things that your company -- certainly I think Apple -- is about is trying to understand where the technology innovations and other innovations are that help us to reduce carbon intensity. We're not advocating for less people to have access to our products. That's not the answer we're looking for.
Apple has made great strides in the area of the environment, reducing the carbon footprint of its Mac business by 27 percent over the past eight years and powering most of its facilities almost entirely with renewable energy.