Many people believe that living a greener lifestyle means spending more money or disrupting their daily routine, which is not always the case. Read on for a list of common misconceptions about green living.
Even the smallest changes can have a positive impact on the environment. Many people assume that green choices are more expensive and that reducing their carbon footprint means eating in the dark to conserve energy. There are a lot of misconceptions about eco-friendly living out there, so we decided to tackle a few of the big myths.
Making more eco-friendly choices can actually lower your monthly bills when done correctly. While some greener options (like organic products or energy efficient appliances) can end up costing you more up front, some can be very money-smart strategies. Turning off the lights more often, minimizing water waste, unplugging devices when they’re not in use are small improvements that help the planet and save you cash on your utility bills.
There are plenty of cheap green ideas you can try. For instance, according to The Department of Energy, you can save an estimated 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs by installing a thermostat. Additionally, you can save 5 to 15 percent a year on your heating bill by turning down the thermostat while you’re sleeping. It’s good for the environment and for your wallet. You should also switch from regular incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent. They use about 75 percent less energy.
There are also plenty of eco-friendly choices you could be making at the store that won’t cost you extra. By buying more locally grown produce, for instance, you’ll be reducing the transportation and fuel costs associated with moving food items around the country. Also, purchasing less meat and cooking only vegetarian meals once a week is a great way to reduce your ecological footprint and improve your health. On average, it takes 11 times more fossil fuel to make one calorie of animal protein than it does to make one calorie of plant protein, according to an article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; not to mention the fact that livestock are responsible for 68-percent of ammonia emissions.
Small Changes Don’t Matter
Every little eco-friendly decision you make, no matter how small, affects the planet in a positive way in the long run. You don’t have to install solar panels or buy a hybrid car to help the world around you. Sure, it helps, but small gestures can also have a huge impact in the long run.
You can start by taking the bus or carpooling to work more often, since motor vehicle emissions are the main source of air pollution in major cities. Turning off the water when you brush your teeth is another small change that can save more than 200 gallons of water every month. Also, recycle your gadgets instead of throwing them out. For more ideas on how to make small changes that help the planet, take a look here.
Turning Off Appliances is Enough
You’d think that shutting down your laptop before going to sleep would be enough to help the planet. It’s a start, since leaving it on would harm the environment, true, but if you’re looking to take things one step forward, unplug the device.
Even when they’re turned off, appliances keep consuming power. It’s called standby power or “vampire power,” and it's the energy the device keeps using so that it can pop on quickly when you turn it on again. Vampire power costs Americans $3 billion per year, or around $200 per household.
If you don’t feel like plugging and unplugging devices all the time, use a power strip. Efficient and convenient.
Paper Bags are Better Than Plastic Bags
It’s no surprise – plastic and paper bags come with serious disadvantages to the environment. The U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually – and it takes no less than 500 years for polyethylene bags to break down. On the other hand, paper bags require more energy to make and transport than plastic, are harder to re-use, and produce methane if dumped in landfill.
In an ideal world, we would all be using bioplastic bags to carry our products when we go shopping. They’re durable, eco-friendly, and sturdy enough to satisfy our needs. Keep a few reusable ones in your car or purse so you’ll always have them handy when you’re on the go.
In order to keep the planet healthy, more of us should adopt small, easy habits to reduce our carbon footprint. That way, we’ll help preserve the planet and its wonderful resources for many generations to come.