Bottled Water vs. Tap Water.
Myth: Bottled water is better for you.
Reality: Bottled water is less regulated than tap water, and in a 2008 study by the Environmental Working Group, 38 contaminants were found in 10 of the top brands of bottled water. Also, plastic bottles leach harmful chemicals into the water. Finally, if you like things clean, then why add to the huge amount of plastic that exists in our oceans and landfills? That stuff is not going anywhere, and eventually it will show up on your beach, your school or even in your backyard. Now if you ask me, that is pretty darn gross!!!
The Disinfection Obsession.
Myth: Green cleaning products aren’t as effective as antibacterials.
Reality: Unless you are a surgeon requiring a sterile environment, good old soap and water or even home-made concoctions like vinegar and baking soda are just as effective cleaning agents as antibacterials – sans the side effects of toxic chemicals, indoor air pollution, and water pollution. These don’t sound so very clean to me.
Use and Toss.
Myth: Single use products are more hygienic than reusable ones.
Reality: Actually, you can get a better clean from cloth towel than a paper towel, without the paper waste and mess. Cloth towels are more absorbent and stronger and therefore are more effective at getting the grime out of your kitchen. Use and wash is still better than use and toss, and if your mess is not a wet one, you can even reuse your cloth towel a few times before washing it, making it even more eco-friendly.
Kleenex vs. Handkerchief – I got nothin’ here – sorry, you won’t catch me blowing my nose over and over in the same hanky. Even I have my limits….but I am open to suggestions!
The Hippie Stigma.
Myth: People who are passionate about the environment are tree-hugging hippies who don’t shave, wear deodorant, or shower regularly.
Reality: We are not in the 60′s anymore.
Myth: Buying local food is better for the environment.
Reality: It depends on how your food was produced and delivered.
While eating food grown locally helps small farmers, it may not necessarily be the most ecologically efficient. According to a recent Oxfam International report called “Fair Miles – Re-charting the Food Miles Map,” a tomato trucked from Spain to Britain may be more environmentally friendly than a tomato grown in a greenhouse in Britain because that process needs energy-intense farming techniques and more fertilizer and could degrade the soil.
Myth: Organic foods are produced without pesticides.
Reality: Organic guidelines need to be tightened up. The truth is, a great many pesticides are permitted in organic farming, and some of them are considered lethal to humans in very small quantities — like nicotine sulfate and lime sulfur, both of which carry a “danger” warning from the FDA but are permissible under organic-farming guidelines.
Myth: Cars are one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gas.
Reality: Yes, but those hamburgers you like to gobble down are actually much worse.
A report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization cited livestock, and especially beef, as a major source of greenhouse gas, generating more than transportation.
Meat accounts for 18% of the greenhouse gases the world produces every year, compared with 13% for vehicles. Other studies put that percentage even higher.
Myth: It’s okay to put plastic containers in microwaves.
Reality: Stick to ceramic ware. Sure, that plastic dish you slap into the microwave over and over has the triangular label on it — and that means it’s safe to use, right? Not necessarily. Even though something is labeled as safe for use in the microwave, it may not be. “The claim on the boxes doesn’t mean the plastic won’t crack or melt or leak,” says Wendy Gordon of the Natural Resources Defense Council. The danger is real: A substance used to make polycarbonate plastic — bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA — could leach into your food and disrupt your hormonal system.
Myth: Fluorescent bulbs are bad since they contain mercury.
Reality: Yes, but not using them will pour even more mercury into our ecosystem.
Low-energy compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) contain mercury, which is why some consumers understandably haven’t made the switch from incandescent ones. “But if you care about mercury — and you should,” says John Rogers, an energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, “the best thing is to cut down on your electricity, and CFLs are a great way to do that.” (The leading source of mercury emissions in the U.S. is coal-fired power plants.)
Considering that CFLs consume up to 75% less electricity than traditional light bulbs, using them decreases the mercury in the atmosphere. According to Energy Star, a 60-watt incandescent bulb adds 5.8 milligrams of mercury into the environment over its lifetime, vs. 1.8 milligrams for a comparable CFL.
Myth: I should wait for all my incandescent bulbs to burn out before replacing them with low-energy fluorescents.
Reality: You’d be wasting a lot of money and energy.
Scientists Jeff Tsao and Mike Coltrin of Sandia National Laboratories calculate that you’d save money by tossing a new 60-watt incandescent and replacing it with a fluorescent. Why? The money you’d save on your electric bill with the CFL would more than make up for the cost of both bulbs. Over the CFL’s 12,000-hour lifetime, you would save some $51. But what about the energy it took to make that incandescent bulb? It amounts to less than 1% of the total. “It’s so small that you don’t have to worry about it,” says Tsao. – E.F.
Myth: It’s better to buy an artificial Christmas tree than cut down an evergreen every year.
Reality: Get out your ax. Sure, fake trees might be usable year after year, but the question comes down to renewable vs. nonrenewable resources. “When a tree is cut down, another can be grown in its place,” says Steve Long of the Nature Conservancy. “And when you’re done with the tree in your home, it can be turned into mulch, so the tree has a life that goes on.” Some 350 million Christmas trees are now growing on U.S. farms (about 30 million are sold each year), and as they grow, they will start to store carbon. Most artificial trees are made from nonrenewable plastics. On top of that, 92% of them, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, had to make the trip last year all the way from China.