All of us want to live greener, more environmentally-conscious lives. Ideally, we’d like to leave the world in a better state than we found it in, and if we can’t achieve that, we’d at least like to reduce the harm that we do on an individual level. That makes us inclined to follow every ‘green tip’ we see in the news or elsewhere online. We want to do our best, so we go along with whatever the majority of people believe the best ‘green living’ practice to be. This is commendable – but unfortunately, it’s not always advisable.
Advice can change over time, and sometimes new advice can completely contradict old advice. If we don’t spot that the advice has changed, we carry on with our existing habits, unaware that we’re doing more harm than good. The science of green living advances a little more every day, and we’re more aware of what does and doesn’t harm the world around us now than we were ten years ago. Because of a combination of these things, what makes for a good ‘green living habit’ today may not be the same as what made for a good ‘green living’ habit ten years ago.
What makes for a good ‘green living habit’ today may not be the same as what made for a good ‘green living’ habit ten years ago. Here are 5 commonly-believed green living myths to be aware of.
None of us want to find out that we’ve accidentally been harming the planet we’re trying our hardest to save, so here are five commonly-believed green living myths that might help you to stay on the right track in the future.
Becoming Vegetarian Lowers Emissions
Being vegetarian and being environmentally aware doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand, but it’s true to say that the proportion of environmentalists who are vegetarian is higher than the same proportion in the wider population. Part of that is down to not wanting to harm animals, but believing that choosing to avoid meat helps to reduce demand and, therefore, lower harmful emissions is part of it, too.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually work that way. You need a lot of milk to make cheese, and that milk has to come from somewhere. The more dairy products we use, the more animals we need to make dairy. You can reduce emissions by becoming vegan – but not so much by becoming vegetarian.
Buying Goods Locally Reduces Pollution
Cars produce harmful emissions. So do trains, to an extent. Planes, however, produce more harmful emissions than any other mode of transport invented by humanity. The environmental fear is that when we buy mass-produced goods from chain stores, we’re supporting an industry that operates by shipping those goods all over the planet on planes. Even conservative news sources hold up the idea of buying local to save the world – but they’re wrong.
If you live in England, for example, you’re not in an environment that lends itself well to growing bananas. Any British-grown bananas are produced in hot-houses that use huge energy reserves to create the right conditions for the fruit to grow. You’d actually be doing better for the world if you stopped doing that, and bought bananas that have been flown on a plane from India. There’s still damage being done, but not as much damage as the hothouses are doing.
Energy Efficient Appliances Significantly Reduce Emissions
This is just way too complicated to be offered as a universal piece of advice. While there might be something to be said for ‘energy-efficient’ appliances, the time of day you use electricity is probably far more important than the components of the device you’re using. There’s a degree of randomness to energy consumption and pollution, no easier to predict or control than the reels of an online slots game.
The complex mathematics you’d need to employ to properly track the effect of using a certain device at a certain time are no less advanced than those that drive the games on online slots websites, either. During the night, though, the dirtiest and most energy-hungry power stations are often switched off. During daylight and peak hours, they’re switched on to cope with demand. That makes night-time use slightly kinder to the environment – so if you do ever find yourself playing online slots on an electronic device, do it at night!
Eco-Detergents Are Better Than Standard Detergents
Everybody needs to do the laundry, and simply bathing your clothes in soap and water isn’t a clean or efficient way to get things done. We all know that. Detergent is, therefore, a necessary product, but some detergents claim to be better for the environment than others – especially those that are made from naturally-occurring ingredients as opposed to synthetics. That isn’t really what drives climate change, though. That has far more to do with the power that’s required to make your washing machine reach a certain temperature.
It doesn’t matter how eco-friendly your detergent is if you’re virtually boiling your clothes. A powerful chemical detergent used on a wash at thirty degrees is better for the environment than an eco-friendly one used to wash at forty degrees. Turn down the temperature if you want to help.
Turn Off The Lights When You’re Not Using Them
This is an eco-friendly tip so simple that even children understand it – but it’s not really an eco-friendly tip at all. It might save you a little money on your electricity bill, but that’s about it. Whether or not your lights are switched on, the same amount of C02 is being produced by power stations.
In many places – and especially in Europe – if one power station ends up not using all of the C02 entitlement, it’s permitted to according to its license, it can trade the carbon ‘credit’ with another power station which will just make up the difference by producing more. The same amount of power is still being used – it’s just not being used inside your house. Unfortunately, there’s nothing the average citizen can do to end this practice – that’s a matter for national governments and international policymakers.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve been doing some of the things we’ve listed above for years – we were too until we found out about them. All we can do is amend our behavior going forward, and hope that in doing so, we can contribute to a greener future.
What other green myths are you aware of?
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