What are the little things? Some one in these posts mentioned candy wrapers made of mylar, and plastic bubble packaging. What would happen is several hundred people simply wrote a letter to the company stating I like your product but I will not buy it because it is packaged in a non biodegradable wrapper. Believe me, it will get some attention. If and they probably will send back a letter telling you that their packaging is that way to keep it fresher longer or something to that effect simply tell them that's all well and good but I will eat it in less that a week and a biodegradable wrapper will keep it fresh for a week but the mylar wrapper is still be here a hundred years from now, or something to that effect.
It was not that long ago that the Peppermint Pattie and the Hersey's chocolate bar were sold in paper and foil packaging. I don;t remember getting any more or any less fresh tasting candybars back then. Heck, the Hersey's minutures are -still- wrapped in paper foil.
You are right about automobiles too, in my lifetime they started mandating seatbelts in the cars (took a law to make us actually use them) and people always said that "safety doesn't sell".. well, now you could not sell a car without 2 dozen airbags and a 5 star crash rating.
Same with Fuel economy. The days of gas guzzling V8s is about done. Not when Smaller engines can make similar amounts of power and still get good miliage. Even those few cars that still come with big V8s are getting better and better economy as the years go by.
In many cases it was done through economics. People did not start taking fuel efficent cars seriously (who wants to drive a Hyundai Excel again?) until gas hit 5 dollars a gallon. Suddenly mid-sized cars are getting 40mpg. (makes you think the potential had always been there).
We -can- save the earth.. many people want to, but to get everyone on board, you have to make it economically feasable (ie, an incentive) to do so.
Take trash for instance. My trash pickup is once a week in a HUGE can. I can throw anything in there that is not hazardous as long as the full can does not weigh more than 300 pounds. It is all taken out of my taxes and I have the same bill wether I throw out thousands of pounds worth of stuff of almost none at all.
What if we started weighing the garbage? You pay by what you throw out.. but recycling is free.... it does not need to be government mandated, it can be done through Waste Management (who picks up my trash) as a way to cut their own costs.