Skip to main content
External Link
Google wants to make “more sustainable hardware.”

It says 30 percent of the materials used in its new products for 2022 were made from recycled materials, for example. The risk with using “sustainability” as a sales pitch is that it doesn’t get at the root of the problem, which is that overconsumption is driving all kinds of environmental crises — from pollution and climate change to piles of e-waste.

These kinds of sustainability campaigns can run into an issue called Jevons paradox, which is when an increase in efficiency just ends up leading to more resource consumption. If you make a a product more “sustainable,” but sell more of those products than you would have otherwise — then you’re still increasing your environmental footprint.

That makes it all the more important to design products to be long-lasting instead of easily expendable. And yet tech companies have dragged their feet (and sometimes outright derailed) efforts to make devices easier to repair, something Google finally did with Pixel last year.

The Verge is keeping an eye on these kinds of sustainability pledges this Earth Day to sort out what’s green and what’s greenwash.