Pretty much everybody is trying to do their part and start living a more “green” lifestyle. People are constantly looking for ways to reduce their energy usage, as well as swapping reusable items in place of disposable items. We are ever-more conscious of saving money, saving energy, and saving our planet. But, many people have questions when it comes to making greener lifestyle choices. Does this solution work better than that solution, and is this way better than that way. So, below are some common questions with regard to making greener living choices, along with their respective answers.
Going Green Question
Washing Clothes In Cold Water – Many people know that washing clothes in cold water saves energy and money, but they often ask if washing clothes in cold water will really get their clothes clean. The answer is “yes”. For a hot water wash load, a full 90% of the energy used to wash the clothes goes to heat the water, not to agitate your clothes. Washing your clothes in cold, or even warm water, will get rid of almost anything. You only need to use hot water wash cycles for heavily soiled items, as well as items that have grease-based stains.
Washing Dishes By Hand vs. Dishwasher – While it has the appearance that hand washing your dishes would probably save you both water and energy costs from heating the water, the truth is that your dishwasher is much more energy efficient. By the time you hand wash a sinkload of dirty dishes by hand, you’ll have gone through on average about 5 gallons of water or more. Today’s modern dishwashers use as little as 2 gallons per load. So, even though a dishwasher uses electricity, anything made within the last 20 years uses 95% less electricity than models built more than 20-30 years ago. For maximum benefits, only wash when you have a full load, and remember to use the “no heat” or “air-dry” cycle option.
Paper vs. Plastic – The red-hot truth is neither one is a good option. A key ingredient in making plastic bags is fossil fuel, and making them requires everything from the drilling and refining of oil, to the costly actual manufacturing process. Turning trees into paper bags isn’t exactly a clean option either. Paper mills contribute to acid rain, global warming and respiratory illnesses. And, just like plastic bag production, it requires loads of energy and water. Even bags made from recycled paper are 6 times as heavy as their plastic counterparts, so trucking them across the country means more gas consumed and more toxic output. And, for those that say bags at least will decompose in a landfill, that unfortunately is not true. Virtually nothing fully decomposes in a landfill, due to the fact that garbage is kept from air and water to prevent “bad stuff” from leaching into ground water. In the end, biodegrading can take up to several hundred years, and, in the process, releases methane gas, which is linked to global warming. So, what is the solution? Take your own reusable canvas bags.
Paper Hand Towels vs. Electric Hand Dryers – In public restrooms, you’ll still find pretty much a 50/50 split between paper hand towels and electric hand dryers. Which is more “green”? Electric hand dryers. Far less energy is needed to heat and blow air at your hands, than to make paper towels and haul them across the country. Studies found that 9 trees are cut down to supply an average fast-food restaurant with paper towels for 1 year. Then, the discarded paper towels create 1,000 pounds of landfill waste. If you want to do your “green” part, and are using a public restroom that gives you the choice of either paper towels or a hand dryer….go with the hand dryer.
Warming-Up or Cooling Down Your Vehicle – This question comes up mostly in the cold, winter months, as well as the hot, summer months. Should you idle your vehicle to “warm it up” or “cool it down”. The answer is this. Idling gets ZERO miles per gallon, so why waste the fuel? Unless you are driving a much older vehicle, today’s modern, fuel-injected automobiles need a mere 10-30 seconds of idle time. If you’re going to sit for any longer than that, turn off your engine.
Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews