Ignore the myths; focus on making best green choices

MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2012

Forget “Ghostbusters.” Today, I’m fighting popular green myths to help you get started on going green. With all the misinformation out there, it’s important to zero in on effective ways to save money, save resources and live healthier.

Myth: Organic is the only way to go: False! Organic is one good option when food shopping because it means the food or produce was not created or grown with synthetic chemical pesticides or insecticides. However, locally grown foods are another important way to be eco-friendly. Those foods are from farms within a few hundred miles, not shipped from across the world to get to your table.

If it says it’s green, it must be green: Not quite. Terms like “eco-friendly,” “green,” and even “natural” are not regulated and have no defined standards. “Biodegradable” is another. Most products destined for the landfill will not biodegrade in our lifetime.

If you don’t have a hybrid, you aren’t being eco-friendly: If you need a new car, hybrids are a smart option. If your car doesn’t need to be upgraded, you can make it more fuel-efficient. Getting your car regularly serviced, keeping your tires properly inflated and consolidating your driving trips will maximize fuel efficiency.

Disinfectants can’t be natural: You don’t have to resort to chemical warfare to disinfect. Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are safe and inexpensive options. Vinegar can be used on everything except marble. Hydrogen peroxide is ideal in the bathroom for fighting mold and mildew.

Incandescent bulbs are going away: Stop hoarding because incandescent bulbs are not going away. While some manufacturers are phasing out certain models, many are being replaced with more energy-efficient versions. The lighting will be the same; the bulbs will just last longer.

What goes down the storm drain will be filtered: Not so. Everything from excess fertilizer to used motor oil can wind up in storm drains. Unlike what goes down the drain at home, this stuff isn’t filtered before heading into our streams, creeks and, eventually, our oceans. It’s critical to properly dispose of household hazardous waste.

If an electronic is off, it isn’t using power: Wrong. “Phantom power” is the energy used by electronics and appliances that aren’t on and adds up to 10 percent of the energy we use at home. Devices with a remote or continuous display fall into this category, as do most chargers. Unplug your devices or use a power strip or similar device that will let you cut off power with the touch of a switch.

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