Wednesday, April 23, 2008

5 worst excuses not to go green

By Lori Johnston •

Going green is a lot like losing weight. Many of us talk about doing it but when it comes right down to it we come up with myriad excuses.

Surveys show most Americans recognize the environmental crisis and they're concerned about global warming. But to actually do something about it? Excuses abound.

Following are the five most prevalent excuses for not going green, why they're cop-outs and simple steps for shedding them.

Excuse No. 1: 'It's too expensive.'

Some people think greening their home means installing "fancy-schmancy" things like solar panels, but it's simpler than that, says Jenny Powers, spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

For example, compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs cost more upfront (an estimated $2 to $15, for specialty bulbs), but they last 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs, she notes. CFL bulbs use 75 percent less energy, resulting in savings of $30 or more in electricity costs during the life of each bulb, according to data from the federal government's Energy Star program.

"So you'll be paying a lot less on your energy bill, and over time you'll more than make up for your cost," Powers says.

Seeing the potential savings in the long run is a way to get beyond this excuse, says Edwin Stafford, associate professor of marketing at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, who studies green marketing.

Powers says you can look for products with the Energy Star seal because they are more energy-efficient and will result in savings on your electric bill.

"It doesn't mean switching to solar power or putting up a wind turbine in your yard," she says. "Those are great things to do, but it's not necessary."

Thomas Kostigen, co-author of "The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time," notes that even turning down the thermostat a degree lower for the heat and a degree higher for air conditioning can save approximately $100 a year on your utility bill.

Excuse No. 2: 'My individual effort won't make a difference.'

Just look at the statistics. Americans saved enough energy in 2006 to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 25 million cars, according to Energy Star data. These efforts also saved $14 billion on their utility bills.

It may be tough to understand what it means when statistics refer to taking 25 million cars off the road, Kostigen says. But he advises looking at it like this: You're saving energy and also helping save the planet because you're not emitting as much carbon, which relates to car pollution.

"There are very simple things we can do that seriously add up to a great, great impact," Kostigen says.

Excuse No. 3: 'It doesn't fit into my lifestyle.'

It's a misconception to think you have to live out in the country to be eco-friendly, says Powers, who lives in New York City. She says urban living can be great for the environment, if you take steps such as using public transit or shopping at local farmer's markets.

"You can be green whether you are living in a concrete jungle, like I am, or you're living out in nature," she says.

Maybe you think the problem isn't where you live, but the stage of your life. She says parents can buy organic food for their kids. Suburbanites can use a rail system instead of driving to work. Tech-savvy folks can use eco-friendly gadgets, such as those with solar-powered features or batteries that can be recharged.

"It fits into all types of lifestyles," Powers says. "It's about energy use and transportation, choices at a supermarket or the mall."

Excuse No. 4: 'Green products don't work as well.'

Green products often carry negative baggage, Stafford admits. When they started being sold in the 1970s, people believed they were using "some mix of twigs and things to unclog their sinks."

"That, I think, has changed," he says. "You have a lot of green products that I think actually work better than nongreen products."

Front-load washing machines clean clothes better, use less detergent and are energy- and water-efficient. They're also gentler on your clothes, due to the technology of tumbling clothes rather than having them sit in a big pool of water and trying to shake the clothes clean, Stafford says.

Other products he identifies as being successful in offering a consumer benefit include compact fluorescent bulbs, Tide Coldwater detergent and solar-powered items. He notes that users of Tide Coldwater can also save $63 a year -- the company claims users can save up to 80 percent of the energy normally required per load.

When Stafford recently remodeled a bathroom in his home, he tried to use nontoxic and energy-efficient items.

"I found all of these things at Home Depot and Lowe's," he says.

"The greenness almost became secondary," he says. "Most consumers don't buy products to save the planet. They buy products because it's going to clean their carpets, it's going to nourish them, it's going to provide them warmth."

Excuse No. 5: 'I don't know where to start.'

You may already be environmentally friendly, but just don't know it. If you buy bulk items from wholesale warehouses such as Costco, you are using less packaging and helping the environment, Kostigen says.

Another easy way to start relates to your computers. When they're not in use, but still plugged in, they're draining a little bit of energy out of your wall outlet, Powers says. "That's costing money and that's costing global warming initiatives, for no reason at all," she says.

She suggests plugging computers and other items into a power bar and flipping the switch off when you're not using them. That could account for as much as 10 percent off your electric bill.

Those cute screen savers also aren't needed anymore because of new technology, Powers says, but when you're using them, the computer is operating at full power. She recommends getting rid of the screen saver and putting the computer into sleep mode when you're away from it.

Once you realize you can take these simple no-cost steps, Kostigen believes it will lead to recycling efforts or thinking of the environment when buying bigger-ticket items, such as appliances, cars or homes. Another simple way to begin is having bills sent to you via e-mail instead of postal mail.

"I think once we're presented with a raft of opportunities, we'll take the ones that really resonate with us the most and the ones that we can really relate to the most," says Kostigen.

Actual article can be found here.

PROPOSED Excuse No. 6: 'I'm going to die anyway!'

I will write a future post with my comments on this later. Stay tuned! ;-)

No comments: