Misconceptions About Going Green

We all want to do our part to reduce energy consumption and help sustain the earth. Unfortunately, there are many factors that go into getting the correct information. Companies want to profit so they will use the green movement to dupe consumers into using a product that seems greener than it is. People are also quick to pass along “helpful” information, which is a good gesture, but the information is either wrong or has been skewed like a game of operator.

Here are some misconceptions about green living that could help you on your quest to live a more sustainable life.

When devices are off, they don’t use any power:

Many electronics have something called “vampire power” or “standby power”. Simple devices like a hairdryer or a lamp don’t have standby power. When you switch them off it closes the circuit and draws no electricity. TV’s, DVD players and cell phone chargers usually still draw a little bit of energy. These keep the device in standby mode so they power on more quickly. In the case of cell phone chargers, anything with a transformer (The black power pack that plugs into the wall) has electronic components that always draw a little bit of electricity.

Energy conservation and energy efficiency are the same thing:

These terms tend to get used interchangeably as if they mean the same thing but they don’t. Energy conservation is the act of using less resources. It is an action you take like setting your thermostat at a lower temperature or carpooling to work to use less fuel. Energy efficiency is generally a technological implement like a new appliance or an LED lightbulb. Replacing your current devices with these when you use them the same amount is energy efficiency.

Organic is always better:

The common misconception is that organic food means no pesticides when it really means no synthetic pesticides. The natural pesticides can be just as dangerous and tend to be used in higher quantities than synthetic ones. Right now, studies are showing little evidence that organic foods have more nutritional value. The best food you can eat will always be the food you’ve grown yourself, so start a garden!

Biodegradable items save landfill space:

Matter degrades based on the amount of sunlight, oxygen and water it comes in contact with. Those are the things that breakdown organic matter and turn it back into earth. Unfortunately, most landfills are designed to close off all sunlight, oxygen and water so biodegradable items won’t break down in a conventional landfill. You’re best option is to separate your biodegradable garbage and take it to a specialty facility or to reduce waste altogether by buying reusable products instead of biodegradable items.

Eating local means less energy wasted:

The way our food gets to us is an important factor in energy conservation. “Food miles” are the distance that food has to travel to get to the consumer and are factored into the energy consumption of food products. Unfortunately they tend to be over estimated. Research from Carnegie Mellon shows that transportation only accounts for 11% of greenhouse gas emissions while the majority is caused by the actual food production. Food produced in ideal conditions uses less pesticides, labor and equipment. The best thing is to do your research and buy local foods that are native to your area. You can also cut down on red meat which produces 150% more greenhouse gasses than poultry or fish.

New homes are more energy efficient than older homes:
It’s true that new homes are built with more energy efficiency in mind. Insulation, lighting, windows and appliances are all more energy efficient than a home built 50 years ago. The problem with new home production is the fact that as efficiency goes up, the average home size goes up with it. The average home size in the 1960’s was around 1200 square feet, but the average home size today is 2600 square feet. More than double! Also the amount of energy sucking devices goes up. Every kitchen has a microwave, a toaster oven, a Keurig, a TV and an iPod dock. Throughout the rest of the house there are three more TV’s, four video game systems, a computer, a laptop, a tablet, three cell phones, a DVD player, a DVR and on and on and on. So the energy consumption of a newly built house is about equal to a house that is decades old. The best thing to do to keep a more sustainable home is to buy an older home, upgrade the insulation and Windows and pare down your electronic devices.

Bamboo is always a green alternative:

Bamboo is fast growing plant that is easily renewable and doesn’t need pesticides or fertilizers. This gives it the disguise of looking like the greenest product on the planet. Unfortunately it isn’t. Just because something doesn’t need pesticides or fertilizers to grow, doesn’t mean they aren’t being used. The companies that sell bamboo want to harvest it sooner, so they use chemicals to accomplish that. The rapid cultivation also creates erosion problems. The areas where natural forests have been cleared to plant bamboo are causing issues with biodiversity in the ecosystem. Then all the products that are made with the bamboo use a lot of chemicals. Bamboo textiles undergo such a severe chemical process they shouldn’t even be called bamboo anymore. Technically, bamboo fabrics are rayon. For now you’re better off with organic cotton or trying some new products like the recycled flooring made by Staybull Flooring.

It seems that any time something becomes popular, dollar signs begin popping up in the eyes of the greedy. This creates a lot of misleading products that say they are safe, green, organic or healthy even though they are not. The Advertising Standards Association deals with hundreds of complaints on green advertising every year. If you find a product that is claiming to be something it isn’t, contact them with your complaint.



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