Saturday, May 24, 2008

Top 10 Green Myths

This is an article from a newsletter I get from a Fresh Squeeze which is a local newsletter devoted to helping Seattleites live green! (and those of you in Chicago too, but its good info for ALL of us!) check it out let me know what you think!

How much do you know?
It's easy being green, if you can sort out eco-fact from fiction. So, we're dispelling ten of the most common myths to help you live greener, wiser.

Myth 1: Since trees absorb carbon dioxide, we should plant trees wherever we can to combat global warming.
Fact: While trees do sequester carbon from the atmosphere, this impact is lessened and in some cases reversed by the albedo effect. For the most bang for your bark, support tree planting in the tropics and avoid planting trees in latitudes above 50 degrees.

Myth 2: Since hybrid cars get better gas mileage, we should sell our current cars for a hybrid.
Fact: The true test of your car's eco-friendliness is gas mileage, which is sometimes better with a standard engine. For instance regular compact cars often get higher MPG than hybrid SUVs. If you're considering buying a new hybrid to replace an older model, remember that it takes energy to manufacture a new car. So you won't start saving energy until you've gotten 10,000 - 12,000 bonus miles out of the improved gas mileage. If you drive rarely, consider investing in other green technologies--like improving your home's energy efficiency--instead.

Myth 3: Since paper is made from a renewable resource and plastic is made from a nonrenewable resource, paper bags are better for the environment.
Fact: Paper actually creates more pollution, takes up more landfill space, and uses more fossil fuel in transportation than plastic. But if you recycle your paper bags, then the eco-impact is greatly reduced. The best choice is to avoid paper and plastic bags altogether by using a reusable shopping bag.

Myth 4: It doesn't matter how much we conserve, because unchecked population growth is going to destroy the Earth's resources anyway.
Fact: According to the UN (pdf), the Earth's population is expected to level off between 9 and 11 billion around 2050. With fears of uncontrolled population growth abating, we still need to figure out how to sustainably support 2.3 to 4.3 billion more people on our planet.

Myth 5: Since bottled water is filtered and regulated by the FDA, it is safer to drink than tap water.
Fact: A study by the National Resources Defense Council found that 25% of bottled water is actually just packaged tap water, sometimes without any additional treatment. Municipal water is subject to EPA standards and is as safe as or safer than the bottled variety.

Myth 6: Since local foods travel a shorter distance from farm to fork, they use less fuel and emit less CO2.There are lots of reasons to support local agriculture--but the issue of food miles is tricky. Although the distance the food travels is shorter, inefficiencies in the transportation system can actually mean more CO2 is emitted during the trip.

Myth 7: Since manufacturers will pay for recycled materials, recycling programs should pay for themselves.
Fact: While some recycling critics demand that these programs pay for themselves--it's more appropriate to compare the cost of recycling to that of trash disposal. This varies from community to community. The EPA estimates the cost of a well run, curb-side recycling program at $50 - $150, while garbage comes in at $70 to $200. So recycling can in fact be cost-competitive with trash.

Myth 8: If something says it's organic, it is.
Fact: Although it's one of the most popular components of green living, organic food is often misunderstood.

Myth 9: CFL's are worse than incandescent bulbs because they contain mercury.
Fact: Compact fluorescent light bulbs do contain mercury--but the small amount is sealed in glass tubing, and is not released when the bulb is turned on. The amount of mercury in CFL's would fit on the tip of a ballpoint pen, and it would take 100 CFL's to equal the amount of mercury in older thermometers. But, CFL's save 70% more energy than regular bulbs, and can save up to 2000 times their weight in greenhouse gases over their lifetime. Cleanup of broken CFL's do require a certain amount of precaution. You can find a comprehensive guide to cleaning broken CFL's on the Energy Star website (pdf).

Myth 10: Seattle doesn't have to worry about water shortages because of the quantity of rain we receive.
Fact: Even though Seattle seems to receive a massive amount of rainfall each year, we still get 5 inches less than New York, on average. It just seems like more because it comes over such a longer period of time. This can, however, put Seattle at risk for fresh water shortages--which is why water conservation is the key.

1 comment:

jeneflower said...

I love this post. Sometimes I am in a quandary about what is the better choice in various circumstances. Is it better to use 7th generation DW powder if I have to run the dishwasher twice because the dishes didn't get clean with it, versus only once with Cascade? Or is it better to order organic produce online and have it shipped here versus buying nonorganic local food (when organic is not available). These problems come up all the time, so it is good to see posts that clear up some of the confusion.