The Green Truth- Uncovering Green Myths

Trash Recycling with Disposal Containers by (CC BY 2.0)

Which is greener? As aspiring tree-huggers we’d like to think we are making greener choices daily, but sometimes that choice isn’t clear. With all the misinformation and green myths out there it’s hard to know if the small choices we are making are making a difference. To help you get a great green start of your Eco-friendly choices I decided to do some investigative detective work and uncover popular green myths. Knowing the truth to these daily queries helps you save money, resources and live a greener life style.

Top 5 Green Myths:

photo by David Locke

Green Myth #1.) Dishwasher or hand wash?

Most of us don’t want to do either! But which of these options is Eco-friendlier? Your mom may say washing dishes by hand in the sink saves more water and therefore is the greener option, but let’s face it she just wants you to get it done.

The green truth:

A scientific study done by the University of Bonn in German called “The Bonn Study,” proves that a full dishwasher uses half the energy and one sixth of the water than hand washing your dishes. Using a dish washer even uses less soap but results in cleaner dishes. Hip hip hooray for dishwashers!

Green Myth #2.) Windows down or AC on?

One of the most perplexing of green myths is  the question of whether driving with  AC on or with your windows down wastes more gas.  Many road trips and a couple of ‘Myth Busters’ later we finally find an answer to this green myth.

The green truth:

According to Discover Channel’s Myth-Busters it is more efficient to drive with windows up and AC on than with the windows down on a hot day. The deciding factor in this question is the issue of Drag. Drag is the resistance that moving objects, such as your car, face when moving at any speed. When windows are down in your car, air gets caught inside and creates resistance.  Just as a parachute’s drag slows a skydiver down, driving with your windows down slows you down forcing your engine to work harder to keep the same speed. So next time your friend doesn’t want to turn the AC you can disprove this green myth! Find out more on how your car works to save at the gas pump.

photo by emdot

Green Myth #3.)  Bottled or from the Tap?

Many  are convinced that bottled water is safer than tap water. This green myth results in people preferring water in plastic bottles than from their own sink. Although we know the plastic bottles are bad for the environment we still choose them over tap water from a fear of our own tap water.  According to CNNmoney research over 28.5 gallons of bottled water gulped down each year by Americans alone meaning millions of plastic bottles are going into the trash each year.

The green truth:

Tap water is actually cleaner than bottled! Because tap water is readily available to the public it is subject to stricter standards. This means your local municipality is obligated by law to test water dozens a time a day while private companies bottling water are only forced to test water once a week.

Green Myth #4.) On or off?

We struggle to remember to turn off the coffee maker before leaving the house each morning, but even though you flip the switch is it really off? The green myth that most people have come to accept is that if an electronic is off, it isn’t using power.

The green truth

If appliances are plugged in they are using energy. This “phantom power” adds up to 10% of the energy we use at home. Electronic devices with continuous displays like clocks or remotes or chargers will continue to suck up energy even when switched off.

Come to think of it most people unplug electronic appliances before they go out of town, but why not do it every day? You can use power strips to make your devices easily manageable.

Green Myth #5.) Paper or plastic?

Most of us would opt for our reusable bags as the greenest choice of course, but what happens when you forget your bag or don’t have one available? The green myth has been spread that paper bags are ultimately more recyclable and friendlier than plastic. When given a choice of paper or plastic ‘reusable-bag-forgetfuls’ will choose paper.

photo by pfly

The green truth:

They are equally bad. shares some important facts they’ve found about paper bags:  According to a 2007 study by Boustead Consulting & Associates, it takes almost four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does plastic one. The National Cooperative Grocers Association stated that each year the United States consumes 10 billion paper grocery bags,resulting in the destruction of 14 million treesThink about those 14 million trees next time before you leave your car without your reusable bag.Paper bags are often considered to be way more recycle friendly but astonishingly it takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper.  There are trade offs to either paper or plastic but the the choice is clear- next time choose to bring your own reusable bag instead.

These are only a few of the green myths that keep us from making the greener choice. Can you think of any other common green myths? I’d love to hear what green myths have got you perplexed!