Greenpeace Protests Apple’s Energy Practices By Releasing Balloons Favorite 



Apr 24 2012


New York City

The skies over
the glass cube that serves as the entrance to the Apple store on Fifth
Avenue turned a bit dark on Tuesday afternoon, at least for some
shoppers inside. And a passing storm had nothing to do with it.The
sudden shadows were caused by bunches of balloons released by
Greenpeace, the environmental advocacy group, in order to call attention
to Apple’s use of coal power at its facilities. Around
2:30 p.m., as if delivering birthday greetings, several Greenpeace
demonstrators entered the cube clutching helium-filled balloons, which
were the shape and color of charcoal briquettes.As they neared
the bottom of the cube’s stairs, they released the balloons, which hit
the ceiling of the cube and lodged themselves in place. Other
demonstrators came later with paper shopping bags filled with balloons,
which they let trickle out as they entered the store, before being
escorted out.The stunt, which did not lead to any arrests, according to Greenpeace, was timed to coincide with last week’s release of a report that ranked the eco-friendliness
of top technology companies. Apple’s “clean energy index” of 15 percent
was below that of Google, with 39 percent, and Dell, with 56 percent.That
relatively low score, according to Greenpeace, is partly because much
of the electricity Apple uses at a new data center in Maiden, N.C.,
where the company’s iCloud storage is powered, comes from burning coal, a
pollutant.But whether Tuesday’s stunt will compel Apple to use more renewable energy is unclear. The company said that it was already working to make the North Carolina facility greener [pdf] and that Greenpeace’s estimates for how much energy it used there were too high anyway.But for its part, Greenpeace is calling the event, which was replicated at Apple stores in Toronto and San Francisco, a success.“The
customers were really buzzing, the employees were buzzing,” said Gabe
Wisniewski, Greenpeace’s coal campaign director. “We want Apple to build
a cleaner cloud, and we sent the message to the company.”Not
every Apple worker seemed to get it, though. One had to ask a reporter
what the event meant, and some passers-by didn’t notice the balloons on
the ceiling. This may be because there were only about 50 of them. Some
activists got stuck in traffic, one said, and by the time they arrived,
they were barred from the store by police officers and forced to pace up
and down the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue with the other balloons in their
hands.Alejandro Chavez, 49, from Boston, who was visiting New
York with his son Alejandro, 19, thought the balloons were part of an
Apple campaign to promote its iCloud feature. That confusion was sown in
part because the cloud logo for iCloud appeared on many of the
balloons. “I guess this will get the conversation started, though,” Mr.
Chavez said.Others felt sympathy for Apple, which has seemed to endure a lot of negative press recently, including The New York Times’s coverage of workplace standards in Chinese factories where iPhones and iPads are made.“I
don’t think that Apple is a malicious company,” said Bruce Aronson, 62,
of Manhattan, who was at the store to shop. “In the end, they are just a
victim of being No. 1.”The most excited observer seemed to be Russell Lum, an Occupy Wall Street participant.“I’m
a fellow activist, and I understand tactics, so I know what this is all
about,” Mr. Lum, 22, said. “This is what’s up, man!”

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