Every little choice that you make influences the environment in some way, and there are certainly some productive things you can do to help to preserve the planet for future generations. However, there are so many unhelpful rumors 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 contact fluorescent lights (CFLs), then you’ll actually 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 to switch 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. In fact, the average US household spends at least $100 per year supplying power to devices that are switched off. 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 trying to support the makers of eco-friendly products because the prices are just too high. On the contrary, companies that use recycled material can often afford to sell their products at a low impact rate, and 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. Firstly, their batteries are partly composed of lithium and cobalt, which requires destructive mining. Secondly, while those that use gasoline use less of it than a non-hybrid car, they are still relying on nonrenewable fossil fuels. Finally, when it comes to plug-in hybrids, note that they are reliant on nuclear and coal power because of their dependency on the power grid.
5. Keeping old appliances helps the environment
On the contrary, holding on to an appliance that’s 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 labeling system in 1992, allowing you to identify the products that are most environmentally friendly, so if you look for this label then you could reduce your energy costs by as much as 90%.
6. We need as many trees as possible
Deforestation has certainly devastated the planet, but it’s not wise to just plant trees indiscriminately—they need to be carefully chosen, in terms of both type and location. 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. Keep this in mind if you’re interested in planting trees on your land, and do your research first.
7. Recycling will be the thing that saves our planet
Recycling really does matter, but 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 focus on finding smart ways to reuse our items. For example, having a reusable water bottle is a lot 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