There was a really interesting article on NPR Marketplace this evening titled “Is an Enviromaniac Loose in Your Office?  Some of the people at my last place of employment would probably answer, “YES”. Listening to the article, I found myself laughing out loud at the beginning and then furling my brow at the end saying “I wasn’t that bad, was I?”  The article is interesting for a couple of reasons:


1.       It is funny – I related to a lot of the commentary at the beginning of the article.  After starting the Green Team at my last place of employment I did find myself pulling water bottles out of the trash and breaking down boxes to be recycled.  Once you get started recycling, it starts to affect you.  For instance, my neighbor works at Dinner By Design (a place that has a menu of meals you can cook at the shop, take home and freeze, and eat nights in the future).  The place didn’t recycle anything, and most of the “waste” was a recoverable material.  She now brings everything home and puts it out with her household recycling.  Between her work recycling and all of the recycling that Amanda and I bring home from the youth on Sunday nights, we have quite a mound of recycling on Monday morning for the drivers to pick up.


2.       It is truthful – The response to the Green movement is summed up by two camps of people, “those who consider bottled water a civil right [and] those who see it as a crime against humanity”.  After the “Dump the Pump” day at work, I encountered a lot of people that won’t take public transportation or carpool because they can’t give up the freedom that their automobile affords them.  There are many other examples, but back to the quote.  Both camps are a little crazy.  Like driving your own car, bottled water is convenient, and has its place as.  The bottles are portable and a much healthier alternative in vending machines than any of the garbage made from high fructose corn syrup.  On the other hand, most people blindly shell out big dollars for “bottled water” or a lot of gas just to drive themselves.  It is no different than tap water in most US cities (as a matter of fact it IS tap water from most US cities).  It’s a waste of money especially when we integrate it into our daily lives and elevate it to “ipod” status.  Plus, the bottles really are a nuisance.  Go to any kids sporting event and look at the “trash” as you leave.  It’s mostly #1 plastic bottles – a recoverable material.


3.       It reflects the growing frustration that many green koolaid drinkers feel – It is easy to get consumed by your movement (and this applies to any movement).  The part in the article where the girl quit trying to inspire with Ghandi quotes and started ridiculing those that don’t follow the Green Rules is a great example.  I know I had inclinations to do the same at times.  Luckily, I had a few friends that saw me going into the right half-plane and told me to relax a little.  You have to realize that you can’t change a culture overnight.  There are going to be those that do things out of a labor of love.  Some will follow just because they respect you and see some of the benefits.  In the end, for green options to catch on, an infrastructure must be set up for it to make life more efficient.  Otherwise it taxes peoples already busy schedules and it won’t be sustainable.


4.       It highlights everything wrong with the marketed Green Movement – I read an article talking about the new Green-snobbery that is occurring in the suburbs.  “Did you see the Jones’ new Hybrid vehicle?  What are they trying to prove?”  Even in going green the market treats us like consumers and wants us to purchase our way to a greener lifestyle.  Buy the more efficient car, buy solar panels, buy all new energy star appliances, buy, buy, buy.  The first question we should ask is “How can I use less energy?”  The first step should be a little sacrifice, not more debt.  Early adopters for green technologies are needed, but we should first look to reducing our needs- it goes back to the entitlement issue.  Plus if you purchase your way to a greener life, it has the potential to become a fad.  “What? You can’t afford to be green?  You must be poor.”  What about the lower middle class family that is has no room in their budget to cope with higher gas prices, higher energy prices, and higher food prices.  It’s awfully arrogant to try to guilt these people into purchasing green just to fit in. 


I set a goal with this blog to stay out of the rant world.  I know this post bumped up against the rant-curb but hopefully I kept it between the discussion-lines. 


Do you have an enviromaniac at work?



Filed under Green Team, Observations

9 responses to “Enviromaniac?

  1. Since my work is at home, no, I don’t think I have one here, but I’m on the verge. I pulled Courtney Gattis’s water bottle out of the trash at Converge and told him that you would beat him up. Really.
    And don’t go dissing my iPod… or iPhone for that matter. I’m a little addicted to that green Kool-Aid.

  2. Jason D.

    My new boss here at work is borderline “enviromaniac” but like you, he knows there is a line there that you probably don’t want to cross in the workplace. He rides his bike to work at least 2 or 3 days a week, he started a recycling bin for empty soda cans, and puts “please consider the environment before printing this e-mail” in his email signature along with a few other little things.

    We had a discussion yesterday because he was looking to buy a new car and wanted something that would get good gas mileage but also has a good crash-test rating. He was at the Toyota dealership and found a 2 year old Prius with 20k miles on it and it was being sold for 29k! When he confronted the salesperson about the obvious over-pricedness (is that a word?), the only thing the guy said was “No offense to you sir but yes, SOMEONE will end up paying that much for it.”

    I need to find a good road bike…..

  3. Younger Brother

    I totally agree about infrastructure needing to be in place for “green” to become mainstream. For example. Me and Angela have four huge garbage cans that we literally recycled everything that had the recycle symbol on it….(and a bunch of crap that we thought could be recycled) I would take the cans myself to the recyclery. I later found out that Huntsville only recycles 1’s and 2’s. Everything else gets sent to the incinerator. Disheartening to say the least.

    As far as transportation goes I do believe that there should be certain tax breaks or incentives for early adopters. If the system is geared for only rich people to go green then economies of scale will never be created and being “green” will be limited only to the rich…..and the snobbery continues. As far as the person that will pay 29,000 for a used prius is either seriously looking for status or seriously needs to do their homework. A standard Toyota Yaris which is about the same size as the Prius gets very similar real world milage for much less money. Prius may actually get better gas milage but on the snobbery issue…..who is “greener” a rich person spending way to much for used prius or a middle class person buying a Yaris?…… I digress.

    My points:
    Infrastructure, incentives for early adopters, and economies of scale (which requires one to buy something — I know) are just some of the keys to a greener world. As far as the water bottles go….like you stated….you have to start with awareness first. I am at least aware of the waste I’m creating when I buy plastic bottle beverage. Only when people become aware then can chage habits.

    Becoming green and changing is not easy. It is a big ol 3 dimensional spider web……and not one of those “pretty” spider webs.

  4. Green is another of those huge lifestyle switches that seems to be caught more than taught, especially in the Christian environment. For so long the green movement was so “left wing” in orientation that many of us had an unnecessary and — quite frankly — wrong reaction of “Not me…I’m gonna drive as long and as big as I want.” Now that the tide has turned, many new green converts are won by simply seeing someone they respect start to implement changes. I know for my husband and me, it was seeing a friend begin to make intentional choices that led us to do the same.

    And you aren’t ranting.

  5. Tap water sometimes has an objectionable taste or odor. It is also subjected to the (sometimes old) piped distribution from the source to the point of use. Chlorine, THMs, fluoride, trace metals and pharmaceuticals can be present under EPA standards.

    That noted, tap is basically safe and the best choice. We have invested billions of dollars building treatment plants and infrastructure to have potable water available everywhere. Using petrol for large trucks or plastic production to deliver water is not that bright and a waste of oil.

    For those of us that prefer contaminant free water from the tap, I find using a refillable glass bottle and a bottleless water cooler with reverse osmosis is a very smart solution. It purifies tap water at the point of use. This eliminates any elements of tap that are contaminants or objectionable. It is the future of modern drinking water service and the green alternative to bottled water.

  6. sigmugi

    iHillary, I meant no iharm – ilove my ipod just like everyone else.

    Jason, $29K for a 2 year old Prius. You need to talk to Charlie W. He purchased a late 90’s Camery and have taken the engine out and is making his own electric car. Only Chuck would attempt something like that. He has a blog with periodic updates on the progress. I will post it once I find it.

  7. sigmugi

    YB, The only plastics that are recyclable are #1 and #2. The other plastics (including styrofoam – #7 I think) are not recoverable. I beleive it has something to do with the chemical make up of the polymers used and the processes used to make the plastic. Not all plastics are created equal. So, in that regard, our recyclery is no different than any of the rest of them. In other areas we have very basic recycling services and are behind recycling programs in other cities. I also agree with you on the incentives for early adopters. Its a shame that the state of AL doesn’t give any rebates or breaks for people installing the latest solar panels in their houses. TVA offers a small rebate, but the power sharing agreement is interesting – they purchase all of the power you generate for a fixed rate, and they charge you for your normal power. Lot’s of checks changing hands.

  8. sigmugi

    Marla, thanks for the comments. What did your friend intentionally start doing that caught your attention?

    I am also one that is inspired by the actions of others. There was a guy at the last place that I worked that purchased a ’77 Diesel Mercedes because you can run straight baking grease trhough it. He plans on running his car on bacon grease and peanut oil. Another one of my friends is making his own electric car. Both of those solutions may not be cheap, but they are examples of creative uses for existing resources.

  9. sigmugi

    bradm, thanks for the information. Unfortunately, your link does not work. I am interested in more info on the reverse osmosis tap filter.

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