An Open Letter To Apple CEO Tim Cook on May Day

By Jane Mountain | May 1, 2012

Apple Blossoms

Dear Tim,

As I sit here writing this on my MacBook Pro, I’m reflecting on the ways Apple has changed my life. During the last decade, barely a day has gone by when I didn’t create or communicate using an Apple product. There’s no doubt that Steve Jobs changed the world.

But did he change it for the better?

An economist running the numbers on his iMac might argue that he did.

But that same economist would be less convinced if you introduced him to the Congolese mother who lost her sons in bloody coltan wars; if he met the African child who spends his days digging through mountains of toxic eWaste for a few saleable scraps; if he had to drink and wash in the water from one of China’s many polluted rivers, as the local people must.

So Tim, are you going to be OK with just following in Steve’s footsteps?

Will you be happy rolling out cool gadgets simple enough for babies to use? Hey, maybe you’ll even come up with some unique device. That’ll be great. I can’t wait to play with it.

But we don’t really need any more cool stuff. What we need is a leader.

We need someone who’s sick of pretending that their products don’t do any harm. Someone who doesn’t want their customers to feel guilty every time they play music or make a phone call. Someone who is sickened by the very idea of greenwashing. Someone who isn’t satisfied with moving the needle by tiny increments.

We need someone who will just break the damn needle and start again.

I think you are that someone, Tim.

You have it in your power to invent a new way of doing business. You could be the first person to change manufacturing since Henry Ford introduced the assembly line. You could be the man who finally says “You know what, big business doesn’t have to be a destructive force. Corporations don’t have to do evil to make money.”

You could be the guy who makes the first iPad without any dirty skeletons lurking behind its razor-sharp retina display.

If you do, everyone else will have to follow in your footsteps.

So what do you think, Tim? Are you up for it? Do you want to do what Steve Jobs never did?

Do you want to make the world a better place?


Jane Mountain at My Five Acres

Get informed
How eWaste is Poisoning the World’s Children

Rare earth mining
Pictures: China’s Rare-Earth Minerals Monopoly
Rare earth mining brings high environmental cost

Pollution in China’s rivers
Greenpeace links big brands to Chinese river pollution
Pollution turns river red in central China

Coltan mines
Congo’s Bloody Coltan

Photo by me’nthedogs

Hi, I’m Jane, founder and chief blogger on My Five Acres. I’ve lived in six countries and have camped, biked, trekked, kayaked, and explored in 50! At My Five Acres, our mission is to inspire you to live your most adventurous life and help you to travel more and more mindfully.


  1. Comment by Mel at Pollo Loco

    Mel at Pollo Loco Reply May 3, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Thanks Nancy. Be the change you want in the world. We all have to do what we can. C’mon Tim, step up to the plate, cause there are not limits on what you can do.

  2. Comment by nancy

    nancy Reply May 2, 2012 at 5:44 am

    thanx Jane. wouldn’t it be great if corporations cared about the harm they do…i wonder what Steve Jobs would say if he read your article. thinking about the tobacco industry, it’s obvious that they have no conscious at all. it is time for a new kind of leadership. i thought we would see change with Obama. but i feel i was wrong. it’s clear, “we” the people need to speak louder and fight for better representation.

    • Comment by JaneM

      JaneM May 2, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Hey Nancy,
      Thanks for your comment.

      Reading Steve’s biography, I get the sense that he wasn’t too concerned about things like this. He was focussed on creating, not trying to be philanthropic. Apple has made some small steps to clean up their act, but nothing groundbreaking like they should be doing.

      Personally, I don’t think Obama is the problem, but rather the US political system, which makes it impossible for anyone to do anything other than lower taxes and bow to the corporations. That’s why I think only a powerful corporate leader can really help change things.

  3. Comment by Heath

    Heath Reply May 2, 2012 at 5:17 am

    We all vote with our dollar every single day. Most of the time we vote for things that we would never agree with, or indorse. This is w.hy we must become educated. We must learn everything there is to know about the items that we buy. We must get to know exactly where our food comes from and how is grown. If we do not change, the corporations will not change. If we continue mindless buying, we not only indorse slavery and torture, in fact we pay people to do it.

    How do you want to spend your money? Do you even care?

    • Comment by JaneM

      JaneM May 2, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Hi Heath.
      I agree. I feel that as consumers we are on the front lines of this “war”. We could all be buying less and causing less destruction – but the first step is to get the word out there to people who don’t think that their decisions have consequences.

      I also think that we can’t really win until corporations and governments get involved in a real way (not just in the greenwashing way they currently operate).

      Thanks for your comment!


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