Top 10 Green Myths!
20 million people participated in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. By 1990, that number had increased to 200 million people. These past few years, over 1 billion people have participated in Earth Day. Wow! Talk about a movement going mainstream.
But even though awareness of our affect on the planet has been on the rise, our understanding of what we can do about it is still in its infancy. So we decided to take some time to expose some of the biggest misconceptions about what it means to be green. If you'd like to learn more about how these tips apply to you, just shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why the obsession with local food?
Local food doesn't necessarily result in much less carbon than non-local food. The method of production and type of food is far more important than the distance traveled in determining lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. For example, chicken from the supermarket is likely greener than local beef from the farmer's market.
Recycled paper: caveat emptor!
Recycled paper can sometimes be more carbon intensive than virgin paper. Virgin paper production facilities tend to be clustered in the Pacific Northwest or Maine, where a large portion of electricity comes from hydropower, while paper recycling facilities tend to be near large urban areas where the generation mix is often dirtier. This difference in emissions from electricity use in paper production can be larger than the emissions associated with cutting down the tree to produce paper in the first place.
Dishwashers are green? Huh?!?!
If you use hot water to wash dishes by hand, stop! Dishwashing can use less hot water than washing your dishes by hand. People often underestimate just how much hot water they use when washing their dishes by hand, especially when they just leave the water running rather than plugging up the sink. In many cases, depending on where you live, you would be better off using the dishwasher. That said, you would be best off just washing your dishes with cold water whenever possible.
Ditch that road trip? Just carpool!
Driving can actually be worse than flying if you are driving the same distance alone in a large vehicle like a station wagon, minivan, truck, or SUV. That said, the planet is virtually always better off if you're driving with two or more passengers or in a reasonably efficient car.
Mercury and CFLs: don't believe everything you read!
CFLs generally result in less mercury emissions than conventional incancesdents, since coal-based electricity generation is the single largest source of mercury emissions by human activity and CFLs save a considerable amount of electricity. Broken CFLs do not pose much of a health risk, as the vast majority of the mercury contained in the bulb remains bound to the glass.
Don't let Whole Foods fool you!
Paper bags are just as bad as plastic bags from a carbon perspective. They also tend to generate more solid waste. If you really want to help the climate, just bring a reusable bag.
Buy an electric car? Hold that thought. Electric cars can emit more carbon than high-efficient hybrids in states where the vast majority of electricity comes from coal. In general, they are still far from zero emissions unless powered solely through renewable energy.
Plant a tree to save the planet?
Planting trees in colder parts of the country does little to reduce warming. The additional sunlight absorbed by the dark-colored trees just about offsets any cooling from carbon reduced. Planting trees in high-latitude areas can actually heat up the earth. However, planting trees in the tropics is unambiguously good. Urban treeplanting is also generally good because urban surfaces tend to absorb a lot of light, which means the tree won't warm the area.
No plastic jugs? Think again.
Plastic half-gallon milk jugs have lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than glass or paper containers, due to the fact that they use much less material to do the same job.
Show your garbage disposal some love.
Disposing of your food in your sink's garbage disposal may be preferable to throwing it in the trash, though the actual effects depend largely on whether your local wastewater treatment plant and landfill capture their methane emissions. Best of all is just to compost it yourself.