Five things that aren’t going to save the planet

This article was sent to me by a friend. Great tips. 

On tip No. 1... I insist on organic. I do check where the fruit and vegetables come from. I choose local first, then US but not too far from where I am. If it's Mexico, California, Argentina, New Zealand... I skip. It traveled too far, and it is not as fresh. There are great varieties of fruits and vegetables that are grown locally and in harmony with the seasons. By choosing local (and organic), you give yourself the incredible opportunity to eat a fresh, varied, and therefore more interesting (and healthier...) diet. 

By the way... if you are trying to find those precious organic fruits and veggies... you will definitely  need to look further than your local supermarket, where pretty much all you can count on for organic is California bagged spinach, lettuce, carrots... and bananas, apples, kiwis and oranges. In a pinch, that is better than nothing. But your body definitely needs more than just those 3 veggies and 4 fruit varieties to get the nourishment that it needs to stay healthy and happy.

Five things that aren’t going to save the planet

deflated globe
(Photo: Getty Images)
Looking for ways to live a more eco-conscious life? It can be overwhelming because there are so many choices we can make. It's hard to know where to start or what will really make a difference.
Here's a list of things you don't have to do to save the planet, either because they ultimately don't have much of an impact or because there are simpler or less expensive actions that are actually better for the environment.
That's not to say that you shouldn't take the actions below, it's just a guide for those of us with limited time or resources who want to get a bigger bang for our buck.   

1. Always buying organic
There's no question that farming without pesticides is good for the planet, but you can make a bigger difference with other food choices. Buying real instead of processed food is better for your health and the planet's. Choose what's in season and local for produce that tastes better, is more nutritious, and doesn't have to travel thousands of miles to reach your table.
If you can afford to buy organic, then spend your money on the fruits and veggies that tend to have the most pesticide residues such as peaches, strawberries, and celery, as well as dairy and meat. You can skip organic versions of onions, avocado, and other produce that's typically light on pesticide residues as well as processed foods.
Instead: Try to reduce food waste. Eat less meat and dairy (cut down on portion sizes or try skipping meat one day a week). The kind of meat you choose is also important. Red meat is harder on the planet than poultry and pork.

2. Unplugging your electronics
It's true that many plugged in electronic devices in our homes use energy even while they are turned off or not being used. It's certainly easy enough to unplug cell phone chargers or the extra TV in a guest room that rarely gets used, but some people find it tedious to unplug computers, printers, cable boxes, and other electronics they use regularly. Or they just plain forget.
Instead: To really save energy at home, try these free and low-cost ways to make a difference (in order from least impact to most): Wash your clothes in cold water and when possible air-dry them. Turn out unneeded lights, use the energy-saving mode on appliances, install a programmable thermostat, seal large air leaks, or add insulation to your attic. 

3. Buying green products
Purchasing a bunch of "eco-friendly" products is not a great way to be supportive of the environment. The best thing you can do is buy less stuff. Resources are used to make, package, ship, and ultimately dispose of all products, green or not.
Instead: When you have to buy new, then it's best to choose products with sustainable attributes if you can. Look for items that are energy efficient, are made of recycled or recyclable materials, or have minimal packaging. Before you go shopping try prolonging the life of what you already own, borrowing or renting something you'll use infrequently, swap what you no longer need, or buy a used product.

4. Switching to cloth diapers
All diapers take a toll on the planet. Cloth diapers are typically made from conventional cotton and require energy, water, and (in many cases) harsh detergents to wash them. Disposable diapers end up clogging landfills and most brands are bleached with chlorine, which is highly polluting.
Instead: There are greener alternatives for each option (organic cotton cloth or non-chlorine disposable), but you should pick what's most convenient for you because one choice is not typically better than the other. Instead, spend your time and money on another issue that will really make a difference, such as the food choices you make, how you get around, or how you use energy at home.

5. Buying a hybrid
You don't need to buy a hybrid to make a difference. When car shopping, choose the most fuel-efficient carin the class of car you need. Some smaller cars rival hybrids when it comes to fuel efficiency and they often have a lower price tag attached.
Instead:  The best thing you can do to help the planet is drive less. Take public transportation when it's available and convenient, or try to carpool or telecommute once a week. Bundle errands when you can. Take good care of the car you already own, and don't let the engine idle. If everyone took these simple steps it would have a measurable impact on global warming emissions.

Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green's users. Send Lori a question or suggestion for potential use in a future column. Her book, Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-smart Choices a Part of Your Life is available on Yahoo! Shopping and Amazon.com.

No comments: