Saturday, October 8, 2016

11 Ways People Are Going Green That Are Totally Wrong, And How To Fix Them

The choices we make every day affect the whole world. Even the smallest acts can have a huge impact because they're going to be repeated millions of times over by the rest of the country, and they set examples for the next generation as well. Good intentions for those choices are the first step; the next step is putting those intentions into action the right way. 

Figuring out the right thing to do is critical. Believing you're helping when you're actually hindering is not a good scenario. It's not as bad as doing nothing at all, but if you're kidding yourself, you're not likely to change your ways.

 And there's so much information out there, it's almost impossible to separate the myths from reality. But we've looked into it for you. Here's what most people trying to go green are doing wrong — and what they should be doing instead.

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1. Paper bags versus plastic

If you thought picking paper over plastic at the grocery store was the more responsible choice, think again. Although plastic bags create four times as much solid waste, the production of paper bags creates 70% more air pollution. So neither are a great option.

2. Washing dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher

Dishwashers use half the energy, one-sixth the water, and less soap than you use washing a similar number of dishes by hand, according to researchers at the University of Bonn.

3. Driving instead of flying

It might sound surprising, but airlines have been so determined to cut fuel costs that, on average, for those long trips you're better off flying than driving. Unless you drive a car that gets more than 45 mpg, the plane is the more efficient way to travel, according to a study from the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute. 

4. Idling your car so you don't have to restart it

Yes, in the north it's tempting to idle the car on a frosty winter morning before getting in, and sometimes for a quick stop or while waiting for a train to pass seems more sensible to just keep the car running rather than turning it off and on again. But idling just wastes gas and emits pollution while getting you nowhere. 

5. Leaving the thermostat at one temperature rather than turning it down

It doesn't take so much energy for your furnace to kick in to make leaving your home at a constant temperature worthwhile. Turning your thermostat down overnight and when you're not at home can provide noticeable savings on your utility bills as well as being friendlier to the environment.

6. Leaving appliances plugged in, even when they're off

Anything with a display like a microwave or coffee maker, a standby mode, a charger, or cable boxes constantly leech power when they're plugged in, whether they're on or off. It's estimated that leaving a DVR cable box plugged in the whole year adds almost $50 to your annual utility bill. 

7. Painting your roof white

You might have heard that painting your roof white will help lower temperatures by reflecting sunlight — which indeed it does. But that's not the whole climate story. As it happens, areas that reflect more sunlight have lower rates of cloud formation, which allows more sunlight to reach the surface. The better choice is a vegetative green roof, which won't absorb heat from the sun like a traditional black roof and also helps manage storm water.

8. Holding on to an old car or fridge rather than replacing it

It might seem irresponsible to let that old car or fridge go to a waste dump, but technology has come so far that the energy-saving and pollution-preventing benefits more than make up for re-using that clunker.

9. Littering fruits and vegetables

This one really goes against expectations. It might seem like you're just sending something perfectly biodegradable back to nature, but banana peels and orange rinds don't break down as easily as you would expect them to, and nobody wants to see rotting food next to the road. They belong in a composter.

10. Buying an electric car (depending)

If you live in an area that relies on coal or oil power plants, that electric car is really only contributing to the problem when you plug it in. But if your region gets its power from renewables like solar or wind, driving an electric car will reduce emissions.

11. Embracing grass

Unless you live in a mild climate that gets plenty of rainfall, maintaining a lawn just isn't worth it. The water, fertilizer, and pesticides — not to mention the emissions from lawnmowers and leaf blowers — make lawns environmental nightmares. It's better to replace your lawn with native plants that don't require much upkeep but still help retain storm water.

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Author: verified_user