Does anyone actually CARE about the environment?

Or are most people apathetic about it? Or perhaps they care but can’t be bothered to do anything about it?

I’m noticing a recent trend towards anti-environmental friendliness amoungst people. Maybe I’m just noticing it more?

It might also depend on who you’re hanging out with and what you consider “caring” about the environment. Most of our friends recycle, but usually convenience wins over all else. Is that the problem you’re noticing or is it true “anti-environmentalism,” as in “I’d like to destroy the environment,” or “screw the environment?”

For what it’s worth, my husband and I recycle obsessively (we’ll dig through stuff before we throw it in the trash to make sure we’ve recycled everything, have our milk delivered in reusable glass bottles, etc.), buy stuff with the least packaging possible, reuse any grocery bags until they’re in shreds and watch our gas milage, etc. However, we don’t compost (though I’d like to), don’t grow most of our own food, can’t afford a hybrid car, and so on.

But we recycle and reuse so much for other reasons, too - buying things with limited packaging tends to be cheaper and cuts down our grocery bill. Recycling is easy, watching our milage saves on gas, etc. Maybe people need other reasons to do things that are environmentally friendly than caring about the environment. I don’t think you’d find a lot of people who would tell you “I couldn’t give a crap about the environment,” but you’ll find a lot of people who probably don’t realize how what they do affects it. It’s a very nebulous idea - if you can make it more personal (i.e., better reasons that will affect each person individually), you’re more likely to get people to care, if only because they save money when they do.

We’re very similar to you, but we have started a compost (just this week!).

My comments actually stem from a thread here regarding car washes and washing in the driveway. Washing a car in the driveway is harmful to the environment, but no one seems to care. One other recent instance was on the Freecycle forums, where a lady had 5 old computer monitors to freecycle. I wrote her and said that although I didn’t want them, there are five computer recycling depots in the city and gave her a link. She replied ‘Na, too lazy, in the dump they go.’

I had just thought most people were of a consensus that being nice to the environment invited good karma.

And that’s my bitch and moan for the day!

[Luke Skywalker voice]
I care.

I didn’t know that washing my car at home was worse for the environment than getting it washed at a car wash. I guess that makes sense given the amount of water and depending upon the soap you use (non biodegradeable). Perhaps a lot of instances like this are based on sheer ignorance (like mine)?

Some people may be under the impression that letting some car wash water run down the gutter is not even a drop in the bucket compared to the environmental impact of cooling a medium sized data center, or turning off your lights when you leave the house vs. hundreds of servers and workstations running 24/7 in a single building.
Having psychotic recyclers screech whenever one misplaces a penny worth of aluminum might, occasionally, result in deliberate misplacement of the next can.

How is washing my car effecting the environment any more than washing a load of dishes?

It’s a matter of degree. I try to do some things such as recycling, taking public transportation or walking, setting the thermostat low in the winter and high in the summer to save energy, and reducing waste by reusing plastic bags and other things. I try to do what is convenient. Yes, I do care about the environment. Right now I’m even sitting in a semi-dark room in front of my computer though the sun is setting just to avoid wasting electricity.

I’ve noticed that some people don’t care about the environment, but I haven’t seen the number increasing except maybe nowadays more people driving SUVs. In terms of vegetarianism, I’ve noticed more people being vegetarian or reducing their consumption of meat which may be due partly for the environment and partly for their health.

I took a “carbon footprint”/environmentalism online test a while back, and even though I’m pretty damned green in a lot of ways (including vegetarian partially for the lower land-usage), the test slapped me down hard for living ~15 miles from my job and taking a diesel train to get there, and for flying on a plane maybe 4-6 round trips a year. Well geez, excuse me for not being able to walk to work and having a job that requires some travel to conferences - I figured that the public transportation thing would get me more points but I compared my score with other people who listed their issues and I barely looked like I was doing anything helpful.

Frankly, it made me contemplate not doing anything environmentally conscious if all my other efforts measured up to so little - and I didn’t change because I knew that was just one test, but every time I hear, “but why don’t you blah blah blah” it makes me want to smack somebody. Hell, I even make my own home cleansers from ingredients like baking soda/vinegar/lemon juice/essential oils, and knit a “swiffer” mop cover from cotton yarn, but since I don’t compost or something I get the turned-up nose.

Environmental friendliness is for the most part anti-human. It’s asking you to reign in and manage your life in a different way from what is best for you, for the sake of preserving cute fuzzy wuzzy animals that you’ll never see except for on TV with David Attenborough narrating. So far as the amount of impact that nature has on the grand majority of mankind, you’re essentially doing the same as asking them to change their lifestyle for the sake of preserving the collected works of Vincent van Gogh. Nature is just something pretty to look at.

So far as people are concerned, if run off from washing their car is going straight into a river, then the government should change it to going through a filtering station first; if a factory is dumping pollutants into a river, then the government should make them stop; if garbage needs to be separated into recyclable bits, then the government should hire a bunch of Mexicans or Chinese or someone to sort it. And so on.

People want to be able to live their life comfortably without having to waste their time protecting something intangible, and particularly not when they can just let the government handle it. But of course once you come to the government and things become real, you can’t just factor in “fuzzy wuzzy animals”, you also have to include the cost to rebuild the city’s drainage system and whether the tax hike to do that will get you kicked out of your job, and you have to consider the cost to the local economy if the factory will have to lay everyone off and move to China if they have to raise their running cost and if they want to keep a competitive price so they don’t entirely go out of business (and be replaced by someone who is already in China.)

Essentially, at the end of the day, everything to be done to help save nature is something that is done against what is the most comfortable, the safest, or the easiest for humans. And all that with only a nebulous, “Well it will save money in the long run versus shifting industry to handle changing weather patterns.” Or, “It might give your child a raised chance for cancer if this runs off into your food!” And of course anything beyond that is just protecting nature for art’s sake.

Don’t be an idiot Bob. You understand the difference between storm sewers and sanitary sewers don’t you?

You understand the difference between burning coal to provide electricity for a heated, high pressure wash, water pumping and chlorine treatment plus wastewater treatment, and introducing a gram of highly diluted phosphate free detergent into a system that gets sprayed on highly overfertilized fields before it gets halfway out of the state, don’t you?

I take the view that the Environment is big enough and old enough to look after itself, and even if I did decide to suddenly and uncharacteristically become a tree-hugger, the reality is that there are a couple of billion people in China, India, and Africa who aren’t all that worried about making sure their car is tuned up properly, or whether or not it’s a good idea to dump toxic chemicals into the Yangtse River, or if maybe they shouldn’t burn down all the forests in order to increase the currency value of the Leaf.

That doesn’t mean I drive around at 110 miles an hour in a Hot Pink 1968 Cadillac El Dorado convertible with Whaleskin Hubcaps and big, brown Baby Seal eyes for headlights, getting 1 mpg whilst eating Quarter Pounders in the old-fashioned, non-biodegradable styrofoam packaging, either. :wink:

But neither do I go out of my way to choose “energy efficient” lightbulbs, or take the “Carbon Offset” option (which always involves paying more for absolutely nothing at all), or otherwise participate in what amounts to (IMHO) Environmental Tokenism…

When what is anti-establishment becomes that establishment, it is inevitable that anti-establishment thinking will begin to rebel against it. It might have been a little different if the environmental movement had been a lot less strident and glassy-eyed, but it wasn’t. I expect in ten to twenty years environmentalism will be rather unfashionable among the demographic that previously constituted its most important footsoldiers. It’s the curse of becoming gospel in the Western world.

In the fullness of time, most of those young will reintegrate what they’ve rejected, more firmly entrenching the (probably mellowed) establishment ideal. Or not, depending.

environment: The circumstances or conditions that surround one; surroundings.
Most people care about their own environments. It’s harder to care about something hundreds of miles away that they’ll never see, and hard to make the connection between it and what they do personally. Not that they shouldn’t care, but I understand why it doesn’t come naturally.

I have a septic tank. And I’ll wash my car, my tractor, my dog, or my house any damned time I please.

I appreciate the sense of futility that attends our meager efforts to restrain ourselves as individual consumer/polluters in the face of our own energy driven economy and emerging industrialization in the third world, and I also understand the impulse to entertain ourselves by provoking “screeching environmentalists.”

But I live in an area (SF Bay) that has been transformed over the last 40 years from a smog-choked sludge pit into a much improved, if not squeaky clean, setting.

Somehow, against all odds, we have changed some of our behaviors. I would never have believed it if you’d tried to convince me 40 years ago that people would be picking up their dog’s turds.

And, inch by inch, we’re implementing commercial and industrial behaviors that begin to mitigate some of the damage we’re doing. European RoHS - style management of manufacturing and commercial reprocessing of heavy metals is slowly making a difference.

It isn’t the environment we care about, after all, it’s ourselves. I spend summers in El Salvador doing public health education with the rural poor there. Unregulated industry (and mismanaged agricultural practices) have polluted the waterways there so extensively that people can’t drink streamwater or most well water. The cheapest alternative? Coke. Yes, cheaper than bottled water.

80% of children in the rural areas have no teeth by the time they’re 5 years old, and four years ago we found only 1 child out of 500 with what we would call a normal mouth.

What’s missing in their culture (and in China’s, India’s, Brazil’s, etc.) is the impulse to do things like pick up their dog turds. Until fairly recently (industrial age, approximately), there was really no pressing need to do it. But it can be done and it does make a difference to cultivate that mindset.

Great feedback guys, thanks.

I’m seeing that, for the most part, people just don’t think the little things they do make any difference. The problem is that most people think that, and that adds up. If it were the other way around, it’d make a bigger difference.

I think, in part, people feel that they don’t want to change their environment; they’re comfortable, things work for them how they are. Now, is that just resistance to change, or laziness? Sure, it takes more time to recycle, but do people not do it because they don’t like change or because they are just too lazy to get around to it?

However, I understand people are busy, things take longer, and there is, in some areas, sincere lack of knowledge, so I agree that the government should step in and force an alternative. But then is that too ‘Big Brother’-ish?

I was told a quote once about the First Nations people in Canada: ‘They’re one of the very few cultures expected to completely change their way of life in one generation.’ Perhaps this could also be applied to the green movement. We can’t expect change overnight.

I care about the environment. I care enough to be active in a local environmental group and to think green as much as possible. Overall my own efforts won’t make a huge difference, but I like to think of it as do my part and encourage others to be more green.

I like AC, I have central air, I also have solar panels to contribute about 75% of my power needs. I am working towards further reducing my power needs. I will eventually get a more efficient Water heater and Central Air unit. When I buy appliances, I think about energy consumption and waste.

I try to use rechargeable batteries as much as possible.

I use compact fluorescents in 80% of my upstairs lighting and nothing but fluorescents in my basements/workshop.

I drive a fairly efficient car and when I run my little Ford Focus Wagon into the ground, my next car will be a hybrid or even a plug-in hybrid. However, I would fail a green audit as I commute 38 miles each way. I have no real choice there. My wife commutes only 3 miles and that was the decision we made when we bought our house.

I recycle as much as I can, I compost all of my yard waste, I do a dozen little things every day to try and save energy.

I hope everyone will do a little something. When you buy your next appliance, buy one with a better EE rating on the yellow tag. When you shop for a car, try to get the more fuel efficient or low emission model that meets your needs. Get an energy audit. Shut off those lights you are not using. Replace some incandescent lights with Fluorescent or even LED lights. Install a programmable thermostat. Recycle those bottles and cans or newspaper or junk mail.

Just do something to reduce your impact.

As far as individual practices, the occasional car wash at home is not the worst thing by any means. If you wish, counter this, by changing your showerhead to a high efficiency model. Do what you can that you can tolerate. Remember in the end, most of these things will not only make a small difference to the planet but also will save you money in the end. It is better to do something than to do nothing as you aren’t willing to do it all.

Maybe the most important thing I am doing, I am teaching my kids and others to be green or at least greener.


To quote Kermit:
It’s not that easy being green;

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why?
Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful!
And I think it’s what I want to be.

At least you’re not the World’s Biggest Asshole.

That should have been “a highly diluted gram of…”, which is an entirely different thing, altogether.

Agriculture and business cause far more environmental problems than any of us can hope to counter acting as individuals. Millions of people reducing their drop-in-a-bucket adds up, but without government and business involvement it’s not going to be nearly enough, IMHO.

A government that’s committed to change supported by a population that’s willing to pay the short term price for long term benefits can, I believe, push the automakers, farmers, and other large businesses to develop and implement cleaner processes. The customer and taxpayer are going to get stuck funding it of course, and most people don’t buy the “green is actually cheaper” argument because prices and taxes will certainly have to increase to get the ball rolling.

Also, I don’t live anywhere near a bay and, as I implied earlier, my wastewater and storm runoff goes nearly straight to irrigation. My local water departments aren’t very worried about carwash runoff, gets only minor mention in their literature, unlike other auto waste which seems to them to be a far bigger problem. I guess maybe the OP and others are located in places with very delicate and/or seriously overtaxed wetland ecosystems directly downstream.