So I sat in conversation with a friend a few days ago at an event where the Chevy Volt was being displayed/test driven. Our conversation very quickly drifted to how beneficial this ‘green/sustainable’ movement towards electric cars, cfl bulbs etc is. Then I watched ‘Tapped‘ and decided I’d do a post on how some of the things we do, with the intention of becoming ‘green(er)’ or healthier might actually be doing more damage than good.
I’m sure there are many examples out there but I’ll pick three things I’ve interacted with today:
Electric vehicles: So if you buy a Volt (or any other electric car) and choose to charge the vehicle at a time when you would otherwise not be taking electricity from the grid then you might be using electricity generated from fossil fuel sources (Coal, Gas). In this case the net effect of you moving from regular petrol to electricity for your car might actually be zero or (in the worst case) negative. You’ve probably just bought a more expensive car (which makes you feel good about how ‘green’ you are…
A way to ensure the net effect is positive is to use electric car chargers powered by renewable energy to recharge your car.
Bottled Water: If your water was put in a bottle in a plant and transported to that store shelf you picked it up from then there has been some use of petroleum products (resin used in bottle manufacture, diesel for the truck, electricity for pumping the water from the water source etc). And that plastic bottle is made from petroleum resin which comes with some health implications (there is the whole BPA discussion that I won’t get into here).
Glass (made of sand) provides a more earth friendly option for reusable bottles or just get a glass cup and add a filter to your tap.
CFL bulbs: If you read our post on disposing of CFL light bulbs then you know that they contain mercury and improper disposal can result in contamination of water (through landfills) or exposure to mercury vapor (which is bad).
The simple solution is to dispose of the bulbs properly when they break but more importantly be careful with the bulbs so they provide the value they are supposed to provide during use.
Any other examples? Thoughts on this whole movement?
- A better kind of lightbulb? (scientificamerican.com)
- Are CFL bulbs as environmentally friendly as we are marketed to believe? (greenanswers.com)
- Hey Rich People: Charge Your Fancy Electric Car For Free When You Stay At The Ritz-Carlton (businessinsider.com)