Everyone knows what a pet peeve is (but if English is not your first language, a peeve is a small but persistent complaint or dissatisfaction). Well, I want to share with you what my ENVIRONMENTAL pet peeves are, i.e. my Enviro-Peeves. Now we have a name for it! It sounds like fun, doesn't it? Maybe you will share YOUR enviro-peeves with the rest of us.
Here are some of the issues that float to the top for me:
* Problem: Store check-outs where if you buy even something as small as lip balm, they will put it in a double plastic bag without asking you whether you want a bag Solution: The federal government imposes a stiff fine for (illegal) use of throw-away bags, and requires shopper to buy organic cloth bags (at a reasonable cost) if they have forgotten their own collection of organic cloth shopping bags
* Problem: When buying a dozen eggs, the self-proclaimed (and I believe them!) Free Range, Organic, Omega 3-rich eggs come in glossy or clear plastic, non-recycled containers, while the eggs in the beautiful recycled cardboard containers have no promise of any ethical behavior imprinted on the container, and could just as well have the words "Provided by tightly caged chickens that never saw sunlight or had a happy moment" Solution: Require all supermarket packaging to be in (recycled) glass, metal, or paper / cardboard / natural fiber. That would guarantee all the eggs would be in environmentally sound containers as well. The chickens would sleep better, knowing their eggs were being properly packaged.
* Problem: People driving along and tossing their garbage out of the car window. Solution: This is harder to solve. There will always be garbage, and at least for a while, there will be cars. Honestly, the best result may be a MADD-style public education campaign to change the image of garbage-tossing to be a highly negative image. That is what Mothers Against Drunk Driving and their public service messages, along with some other influences, did to the image of the falling-on-the-floor (or otherwise impaired) drunk. And now, drunk driving is way down... why can't we do the same to car garbage tossing, or to littering in general? Other car-garbage solutions that have occurred to me: seal all car windows to disallow access to the outside world; or, give all cars light-weight roof-mounted lasers to zap the tires of littering drivers, when observed by a good-citizen-driver. These alternative solutions have some flaws, but are attractive at times, nonetheless.
* Problem: Restaurants and other organizations that serve food, using non-compostable plastics for wrapping, take-out containers, tableware, and disposable cups and soup containers. These end up in landfill or in the ocean (see the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, for example), and gradually leach out their toxins Solution: Through a combination of fees, incentives, and laws, push all organizations toward using compostable plastic replacements for things such as garbage bags and tableware, and even better, to wash dishes when possible, to provide recycled cardboard take-out containers (as Whole Food does), and to use ceramic, paper, or compostable "plastic" drinking vessels. Anyway, we should all stop eating out and shopping so much - sorry merchants, but it is true!
* Problem: A federal United States government that is a big part of the problem, not part of the solution Solution: USA citizens, vote intelligently in November, 2008, and then continue to let your voice be heard so that the new government that is elected is not afraid to take more demanding environmental improvement steps, steps that require much more of Americans than "Go out and shop". And for everyone in the world, continue to speak up, educate others, learn more yourself, vote, and promote the values you believe in.
Well, the list could probably continue far beyond that which would be of interest to you. However, I would like now to invite YOU, the reader, to submit one or more of your own pet enviro-peeves, or comment on any of those above. Surely, there must be SOMETHING in the environment and how we treat it, that you think needs improving! Let's have a discussion here of all our favorite, or least-favorite, enviro-peeves.
Comment by: City Worker (May-22-2008)
It's not quite a peeve, more of an amusement: When I first started bringing my own reuseable bags to the supermarket, sometimes, the packers would ask me if I wanted them placed first in their plastic bags, before being placed in my reusable bags. There's one department store that requires their bags be used, for security purposes. I sense that some stores really don't want you to use your own bags, but I suppose I should give it a try.
Good idea... ration petrol, and let that 10x fee for heavy users fund development of alternative energy sources.
Comment by: Wavehunter (William Coffin) (May-20-2008) Web site Problem: People sitting in the cars with the engine running, going nowhere. Solution: Petrol/Gas isn't expensive enough yet - tax it further, and spend the money on public transport and cycle lanes. (Perhaps even better would be to ration petrol, with those wanting more than their fair share forced to pay 10x the current price. That way, those that really need it - poor people in rural area, for example - will not be hit.)
And I'd like to second pretty much all of the other peeves here. Let's hope things start to change.
Comment by: chrisbaskind (May-20-2008)
Here's one that might not at first seem an "environmental" peeve, but is: harassing bicycle riders. It's dangerous and aggressive -- and happens all the time. Bikes *belong* in the road in most states, people. And they're a healthy way to reduce pollution and fossil fuel consumption.
Comment by: sustainablogger (Jeff McIntire-Strasburg) (May-20-2008) Web site
My peeve (and it's a biggie): an economic system that fails to account for environmental impact. Loss of species, forests, water sources, etc -- these all have economic impact, and yet are not included in the purchase price of products and services that create these losses. That's a market failure... a big one.
Comment by: PT (David Alexander) (May-20-2008) Web site
Thanks for all the comments so far. It seems that we may not improve so easily, due to habits, until economics forces a shift. Perfectly good bags (I have noticed the same thing happen in my no-bag approach) will be tossed out, advertising will continue to throw away money and the environment, and regulations will have only partial success, until the forces of reality hit home. However, I do believe that education campaigns and regulations are important and can change behavior to a certain degree, and to a large degree given enough time (decades). The changes one sees at the time of a purchase or decision that are direct incentives or disincentives are also important. We should try all that we can to help shift thinking away from consumerism and toward relationship and self-knowledge. A big shift!
Comment by: City Worker (May-20-2008)
Problem: Stores always throw out their bags and other packing materials if they’ve been used in even the slightest manner. – Recently, I’ve experienced extreme cases of this: 1) I told a young supermarket cashier that I realized that I didn’t want the plastic bag he’d just filled for me with a couple of items (by the way, the supermarket was one that was displaying, for sale, reusable “green” shopping bags). After the bag was emptied, the cashier threw out the bag! He mumbled something like it was now harder to handle the bag (harder to grab hold of the handles and place on the metal packing frame, than was possible with nice, flat, never-opened bags?) 2) I purchased an item of clothing that was wrapped in tissue paper, and placed in a nice fancy bag, and within an hour, I returned it, having never removed the item from the bag. When I returned the item, the cashier took the tissue paper and threw it out! (I didn’t notice what happened to the nice bag it had been put in. I’m guessing maybe that was thrown out also.) Solution: Convince stores to instruct their employees to not throw out every single bag and wrapping of returned items. Convince stores to let their employees save, with impunity, some returned bags, etc. and reuse them, if their common sense tells them no one would mind receiving those reused items.
Comment by: StellaSZ (Stella Szimmer) (May-19-2008)
*Problem: Mobile billboards drive all over urban areas with no other purpose than advertising. This is a frivolous waste of fuel and pumps carbon emissions into the air for absolutely no reason. *Solution: Write a letter of protest to the advertising company and the company that is paying for the service. Let the advertiser know that you will not purchase their product because of their method of advertising, and that you will encourage others to do the same.
Comment by: auntiegrav (auntiegrav) (May-19-2008)
Peeve: People who think that 'requiring' or 'regulating' things through the marketing efforts of some 'agency' will result in a better world. Let's face it: people are stupid. Solutions need to be directly at the point of purchase to make any effect, and they need to be monetary. This means that if you want people to reduce consumption, you need a consumption tax. It doesn't matter, really, what they are consuming, because right now, almost ALL of their money comes from petrodollars somewhere. Tax the petrodollar where it is most direct: Pass the FairTax.
My lifelong pursuit, since age 18, has been to live more fully and find wisdom. This has involved studies with Zen masters, Tai Chi masters, and great psychotherapists while achieving my license as a gestalt therapist and psychoanalyst.
Along the way, I became aware of how the planet is under great stress due to the driven nature of human activity on this planet.
I believe that the advancement of human well-being will reduce societies addictive behaviors, and will thus also help preserve the environment and perhaps slow down the effects of global warming and other major threats to the health of human societies.