If you haven’t yet had an iPod, Mac computer, or other Apple product expire on you (hopefully not mid-jog, as mine did – a real let-down), you’re in a small minority. Tech consumers of today have been bred to look for the newest and shiniest, rather than the most lasting. Which is why landfills are full of toxic tech waste that leaches into our soil and water, and why more and more electronics companies are developing e-recycling programs, and why it’s actually significant that Apple has cut several black-list techy-type toxins from its latest product.

Green checklist: the iPad Tablet is free of arsenic, mercury, PVC and Brominated Flame Retardant (BFR) – all things you don’t want to breathe or ingest. And the tablet’s screen is an LED display (backlit by definition) that uses less energy than have screens of the past.

Plus, Apple says the new gizmo will be “highly recyclable,” which probably means it’s been designed in such a way as to allow quick and easy dismantling at the end of the product’s lifespan – an important component of cradle-to-cradle design.

So, great, toxin-wise, and built-wise, the iPad is indeed on the greener end of things. But what about the fact that its capabilities overlap so heavily with those of the iPhone and other handheld, computing, and gaming devices which iPad buyers will likely already own? Is a “green” product really green, if it’s one whose functions are redundant among the gadgets already populating your tech artillery? Say you build a green home in Vermont, hook it up to geothermal power, plaster oodles of solar panels on the roof, position it to use passive solar energy, use reclaimed wood to build your frame, and furnish the whole thing with recycled whosie whatsits galore. If you already had two other homes in other places, would the green Vermont house still be a green choice?

Thankfully, the Economist’s coverage of the tablet rose above the mind-numbing chatter circulating in the media about potentially unsavory associations attached to the iPad’s name (who really cares?). The magazine focused instead on several reasons the device is, in fact, revolutionary. One of those:

“Newspaper and magazine publishers are also thrilled by tablets’ potential. Their big hope is that the devices will allow them to generate revenues both from readers and advertisers. People have proven willing to pay for long-form journalism on e-readers. But these devices do not allow publishers to present their content in creative ways and most cannot carry advertisements.”

Well, heck, if the iPad allows the magazine and newspaper industry to go paperless (read: curb global warming and protect biodiversity by preserving rain forest) and still stay in the black by tapping into a new advertising market, let’s do this.