Business as usual for the folks over at Bankrate.com. One of their literary contributors would lead curious readers to believe that there are a few myths about “going green” that beg to be debunked. Unfortunately, Dana Dratch isn’t fooling anybody with his obvious and blatant mockery of critical thinking… except maybe only his faithful readership (his mom). Just kidding, Dana.
First things first, as the article asserts, without the aid of it’s author, distinguishing fact from fiction would certainly be impossible. This is a guy who just happens to be vice-president of a company that is in the business of buying up small companies and liquidating their assets, then selling them to over-seas investors, leaving their employees without a job.
Delving into the hit-piece on intellectualism, 10 major myths about living green are laid out:
- Small changes don’t matter.
- “Green” choices are painful and expensive.
- Keeping old appliances is “greener” than buying new.
- The U.S. needs more power plants for energy needs.
- The cost of your commute is a fixed expense.
- At the grocery store, eco-friendly options are expensive.
- If an appliance is off, it’s not using power.
- Hybrid vehicles are automatically better than nonhybrids.
- There are millions of vehicles running on ethanol.
- There’s only one “right” answer to your eco-dilemma.
Right off, certain parameters are set with passive statements which co-mingle fact and fiction, disallowing the actual “major myths about going green” from ever entering the conversation.
Breaking down the so-called myths one by one requires complete and utter ignorance of real issues:
Myth No. 1: Small changes don’t matter.
One of your biggest weapons in the green movement is your own wallet. Recent numbers demonstrate that a few smarter buying decisions translate to big changes in the planet. One that’s fairly easy: When you buy household paper goods (like paper towels, napkins, toilet paper and copy paper), look for products that use high percentages of recycled or post-consumer waste.
A lot of the major paper manufacturers are cutting virgin forests to make the items you use, says Jennifer Powers, spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. But some well-known green-label brands, like Seventh Generation and Whole Foods Market’s 365 line, use recycled materials instead. If everyone in the country elected to buy one package of 100 percent recycled napkins instead of the non-recycled variety, that act alone would save 1 million trees, says Powers.
Trees are always going to be cut down for lumber and paper and all the things that trees have always been cut down for. The real myth is that buying recycled will somehow magically bring the forestry industry to it’s knees.
Myth No. 2: ‘Green’ choices are painful and expensive.
How would you like to save $50 this year with a few simple clicks of your computer mouse? You would? Then turn off your screen saver, says Powers. Instead, select the “sleep” or “hibernation” mode for periods of inactivity.
Screen savers, which were created for old-style CRT monitors, are relics of a bygone age. The constantly changing pictures kept images from getting burned into the screen. These days, most people are using LCD monitors, which don’t run the risk of burned-in images. And with today’s software, sleep modes are a lot more responsive and user-friendly, says Powers. So, unless you still have that 1990s dinosaur, turn off the screen saver and use that cash for something you’d really like.
While some greener options (like some organic products) do cost more, others (like turning out lights, using water-saving faucets and keeping the thermostat at a reasonable temperature) are money-smart strategies, too. “They’re good ideas, and they pay off,” says Erich Pica, director of domestic programs for Friends of the Earth, an international grass-roots environmental group. And when you do shell out for eco-friendly equipment, like new appliances, “some of the upgrades pay themselves off far more quickly than you budget for,” he says.
Keeping in the theme of spending money to save the earth as if they’re somehow related, akin to the passing of a silver platter around during religious services to collect tithe offerings.
Myth No. 3: Keeping old appliances is a form of recycling.
Half right. True, you’re not clogging up the landfills, but keeping the old stuff isn’t necessarily the greenest choice either, says Powers.
If you still have that avocado green fridge from the 1970s, you’re using 70 percent more power than you would with a new model. If you are using an appliance with an Energy Star label, your savings will be closer to 90 percent, says Powers.
That’s simply because newer appliances do a lot more with a lot less juice: If the old equipment is more than 10 to 15 years old, you can probably cut significant energy use by replacing it. And because many retailers will take your old appliances and recycle them (as will some collectors, like 1-800-GotJunk), you don’t have to fear that your old model will be lying in a landfill for thousands of years. Just ask a few questions before you buy.
Implementation of fear tactics is a common ingredient of the Hegelian dialectic. In this dimension of space and time, the sole purpose of landfills is to manage waste disposal, necessary for keeping communities healthy and clean. Technology and sorting methods are constantly being improved on, which actually increases landfill capacities by directing materials through the proper channels in order to be recycled.
Myth No. 4: The country needs more power plants.
Actually, by making smarter choices, we can make the energy we have go a lot further, according to numbers from the Natural Resources Defense Council. For example, if everyone used more efficient lighting solutions, including compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, consumers would collectively save billions each year on energy and cut the need for 24 power plants, according to the group. And yes, in this case, there are some trade-offs. CFLs last about 10 times as long as incandescent bulbs and use about one-quarter of the energy, says Powers. But they also contain a small amount of mercury, she says. So you definitely don’t want to break them. And instead of simply throwing them away, you need to call your local municipality or garbage hauler about safe disposal rules.
As if admitting that CFLs are highly toxic wasn’t enough to convince us that they will save the earth. The “small amount of mercury” gas that is contained in CFLs is more than is necessary to permanently halt the life processes of an entire family. Not to mention, they bring the cost of having the convenience of artificial sunlight indoors to soaring levels, some bulbs costing $20 or more each. Funny how the need for power plants is solved by buying exponentially more expensive bulbs. Steering the conversation in this way shuts down the idea that there might possibly be an entirely different way of delivering electricity to homes altogether… and for free…