Every little choice that you make influences the environment somehow, and there are certainly some productive things you can do to help preserve the planet for future generations. Unfortunately, however, there are so many unhelpful rumours about how to adopt a greener lifestyle that you may find yourself accidentally harming the environment or just not making much of a difference.
Here’s the truth behind eight of the most common myths, along with advice that can help to reduce your environmental footprint every day. As a bonus, you’re certain to save money in the process!
#1. You should turn off the lights when you leave a room
You may have had it drummed into your head that you’re letting the energy go to waste if you leave the lights on when you leave the room. However, that’s only true if your lightbulbs are incandescent.
If you’re using fluorescent contact lights (CFLs), you’ll save money and use less energy by leaving your lights on—as long as you don’t leave the room for more than 15 minutes. Further, CFLs last longer if you minimize the number of times you turn them on and off, and they can save you $30-80 during their lifetime!
#2. Appliances don’t use power when they’re switched off
Sure, it’s responsible for switching off your appliances when they’re not in use, but you need to know that they’re still using up what’s commonly known as “vampire energy” when they’re in this state. This is true regardless of whether they’re in standby mode.
The average US household spends at least $100 per year supplying power to switch off devices. Therefore, you will live a low impact lifestyle by unplugging instead of switching off or merely switching to standby mode, and this decision can reduce your energy costs by about 10%.
#3. Eco-friendly products are always more expensive
Some people think there’s no point in supporting the makers of eco-friendly products because the prices are too high. But, on the contrary, companies that use recycled material can often afford to sell their products at a low impact rate.
Buying locally sourced food is sometimes cheaper because of reduced transportation costs. In addition, don’t fear clothing made from organic cotton—check the label because the formerly large price gap has shrunk over time due to the high price of cotton.
#4. Hybrid cars are maximally green
There is much to recommend hybrid cars, but it’s false that they’re 100% greener than their non-hybrid competitors:
- Their batteries are partly lithium and cobalt, which requires destructive mining.
- While gasoline uses less than a non-hybrid car, they still rely on nonrenewable fossil fuels.
- When it comes to plug-in hybrids, note that they rely on nuclear and coal power because they depend on the power grid.
#5. Keeping old appliances helps the environment
On the contrary, holding on to an appliance over a decade old is likely to waste energy—especially if the item is a washing machine or dishwasher. The Environmental Protection Agency introduced the Energy Star labelling system in 1992, allowing you to identify the most environmentally friendly products. If you look for this label, you could reduce your energy costs by 90%.
#6. We need as many trees as possible
Deforestation has certainly devastated the planet, but it’s not wise to plant trees indiscriminately—they need to be carefully chosen in terms of type and location. In addition, trees can reduce the growth of other plants when less water makes its way back to the soil, so due consideration must be given to the surrounding environment.
If you’re interested in planting trees on your land, keep this in mind, and do your research first.
#7. Recycling will be the thing that saves our planet
Recycling does matter, but we can’t just depend on it to solve our current environmental problems. Processing recycled materials take up huge amounts of energy, so we also need to find smart ways to reuse our items. For example, having a reusable water bottle is better than repeatedly recycling plastic bottles.
#8. Local food is always the best choice
Finally, while we looked at the low impact transportation costs associated with local foods when discussing eco-friendly products above, it’s vital to be aware that this doesn’t mean local food is always best. Not all local produce will be made with environmental concerns in mind, and there are several factors to consider.
For example, look into the harvesting and storing protocols of the manufacturer. Meanwhile, remember that red meat leads to approximately 150% more greenhouse gas emissions than fish or chicken. Sometimes, buying chicken sourced elsewhere will be better for the planet than picking up locally sourced beef.
Also Read: 8 Tips for Using Your Time More Effectively