Three industries with a problem
Tom Watson on
Jan. 14, 2007
Some products have an environmental Achilles heel - a systemic problem that needs to be addressed. Let's take a look at three such product categories:
1) Home electronics. The average American home contains 25 consumer electronic devices - twice as many as 10 years ago. That kind of volume, combined with the toxics in these devices, adds up to bad news. A few companies, such as Nokia and Dell, have begun to step up. But more companies need to design their products with the environment in mind, and provide recycling options. If they don't, more states will follow the lead of a few states such as Washington that have passed legislation.
2) Air fresheners. Given evocative names like Berry Splash or Suddenly Spring, air fresheners are marketed relentlessly. These products, which have been linked to various health and safety problems, are just plain unnecessary in most cases. Odors should be eliminated at the source, not covered up.
3) Phone books. Ever suddenly discover a plastic bag on your doorstep filled with eight pounds of phone books? And then try to call the company to get off their list in the future, but to no avail? Unwanted phone books could be greatly reduced if companies simply allowed residents and businesses to "opt out" of receiving them. Fortunately, a new Product Stewardship Institute national project seeks to work with the phone directory industry on this issue.
Three very different types of products. The common thread: Their manufacturers need to do a better job of environmental protection.