12 green myths put to the test

9. Electric cars cause less pollution

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Location, location, location—that’s what it comes down to when analyzing the impact of electric cars on the environment. In areas that rely on cleaner forms of electricity (solar, wind, etc.), electric cars do little damage. Narrow in on electricity grids dependent upon coal power, though, and charging up a vehicle overnight can have as much of an impact as exhaust flowing from a tailpipe.

10. Biodegradable plastics are the better plastic

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Biodegradable plastics, when disposed of in the proper environment, are broken down in a much more environmentally friendly fashion than their traditional kin thanks to microbes that convert them into into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass rather than a petroleum-based mess.

The reason wariness surrounding biodegradable plastics exists is because some companies have turned “biodegradable” into a buzzword, applying it to plastics that indeed degrade quickly, but are not actually biodegradable and emit methane—a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2—when decomposing.

When shopping for biodegradable products, make sure they bare the Biodegradable Products Institute logo and dispose of them correctly by ensuring they end up in a commercial composting facility.

11. Restarting your car is greener than leaving it idling

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Technology has improved the miles per gallon a car can swing, but there’s no advancing the benefits (or lack thereof) of idling. This action will always use up gas while gaining the driver zero miles. In addition, idle vehicles account for an unnecessary emission of greenhouse gases. And with the auto industry’s introduction of electronic fuel injection back in the early 1990s, there’s really no benefit to idling a vehicle over restarting it during the colder months or otherwise.

Bundle up, folks, and turn that car off. The heat will kick in eventually.

12. Small changes don’t matter

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On the individual level small changes can mean big energy savings, which translate to more money in your pocket.

Flicking off unused lights and turning the heat down reduces energy usage 10–15 percent.

Driving less often, carpooling, or driving an energy-efficient vehicle cuts carbon emissions.

Investing in an Energy Star-rated dishwasher saves at least two gallons of water per load.

Use your instincts. If you aren’t using an appliance, unplug it. If you’re running water, capture the runoff to use later. Be conscious of the products you purchase and the containers they come in.

Small changes also have an effect on the global level. Despite the growth of the world population, you are not just a number. These changes can add up to huge changes globally.

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