Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

by Travis Gertz

Do you love your iPhone? Your shiny MacBook Air? I do. There is not a brand on earth with products that I spend so much of my life with, than Apple.

It’s no secret that these magical little devices are built in sweatshops in China, but isn’t it easy to assure ourselves that the people building them are being treated fairly? That working conditions are safe, or that it’s “good for the country”?

In the latest episode of This American Life, Mike Daisey takes us into the factories where our perfect little Apple products are built. The story telling is superb, and the story is horrific.

After the monologue, Ira Glass shares some research they conducted to fact-check Mike’s story. Not quite everything aligns, and it seems that Apple has done some work to help improve conditions, but there’s still an even greater message at the heart of this.

Apple is not alone in supporting an exploited labour force, of course. Nearly every product we consume is built by hand in sweatshops around the world in terrible working conditions. We purchase and discard electronics and other consumer goods with pure frivolity. The resources used, the labour exploited, and the impact of discarding your old devices makes the true cost of that iPhone far more expensive than the $299 price tag you paid.

Before you discard your perfectly good device just because there’s a new one available, think about the impact it makes on the environment and the poorly-treated factory workers who slaved over it. Treat it like your baby… it’s worth a lot more than you think.

Listen to the episode.

Via @darcytwarog


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