May 13, 2019
Issue 05 2019
Negative Nancy

Environmental Pet Peeves

For this week’s Negative Nancy, there are plenty of fish in the sea of things to complain about (unlike the depleted real life population). That’s because we’re talking about the environment and my list of pet peeves revolving around the topic is ever growing. In no way will this be a healthy addition to the wider conversation, unless you count sarcastically calling people out for their horrendously unsustainable habits as a healthy addition to conversation - but honestly, when does this column ever serve such a purpose?

So let’s dive right into this metaphorical sea, shall we? The obvious unsustainable annoyances are classic power wastages like leaving lights on, doors open, or temperature-controlling systems on when unnecessary. Same goes for water wastages like leaving taps on - especially when brushing teeth - or insisting on putting the dishwasher on when it’s only half-filled, or watering your sad, suburbian patch of grass in the midst of a summer drought. You’d think I wouldn’t even need to mention any of these at this point, but people really still do all of these things. Can you actually believe?

Another habit that has its own special place in my cold, bitter heart involves people buying those bulk packs of bottled water and using them as their main thirst quencher, discarding each plastic bottle after their one and only use. What kind of sovereignty do these people come from, where it’s normal, even expected, to drink from superior (i.e. plastic-encased) sources, not to mention littering the seas more than anyone else while the rest of us peasants drink tap water from a glass? This one really boggles me.

Almost all of the daily occurrences that grind my gears the most all have something to do with these loathsome single use plastics. You don’t have to be an eco-warrior (but amazing if you are) to remember a tote bag for your groceries, or some smaller bags if you’re buying produce. Under NO circumstance do you need an entire plastic bag for one tomato. It’s also not a huge effort to chuck a reusable coffee cup in your bag, and it doesn’t have to be of any fancy brand either - ‘keep cup’ has morphed into an umbrella term that encompasses literally any kind of cup that you have kept, so by all means, bring a mug!

Also, if you opt for a compostable plastic, or some other futuristic variation, you absolutely do not avoid my judgement. As clever as that technology is and as good as you feel about yourself using it, that stuff won’t actually break down unless it ends up in an environment that meets some very specific standards. I will make zero effort to hide my eye roll when I see you using any versions of these single-use plastics. I used to put politeness ahead of sending passive aggressive signals, but our culture and planet are both well past that point now.

This is only a very miniscule snapshot of dumb things people do, but I’m sure I spend five hours a day internally fuming at each of them. In saying this, I’m no saint when it comes to environmentally-conscious habits. I am completely prone to having long showers when it’s cold, and haven’t yet gathered enough motivation to lug my flat’s compost across town to the local community gardens. But if there’s something to take from this grumpy rant, it’s that we can all be doing more - changing small habits can collectively make a huge difference. So use a freaking tote bag!