As climate change becomes a bigger and bigger issue, people are going “green” to battle it and save the Earth. However, not every green practice is effective, and some are particularly detrimental to the environment. Read on to learn the difference.
Paper is the only resource that can be recycled. However, paper products need to be significantly clean and free from other organic materials. Recycling plastic is a dismal failure. Ninety percent of “recyclable” plastic ends up in landfills. In the past years, the US, the UK, the EU, and Australia shipped most of their recyclables to China and other countries. The practice only stopped when China banned the import of recyclable materials, and other countries in Asia started shipping back the plastics sent their way. Of the 1 million plastic bottles sold every minute – less than 10 percent get recycled.
The recycling concept encourages plastics even more, providing a moral excuse as consumers believe the plastics can be recycled. However, only specific types of plastics get recycled. Most plastics aren’t worth recycling, and most water bottles come under this umbrella. The bulk of water bottles in the US (more than 70 percent) merely get incinerated or dumped in landfills. Reducing your purchase and use of plastic is a more effective way to curb the plastic problem. Bring your own cup the next time you go to a Starbucks and bring a few eco-bags to the grocery and avoid the flimsy plastic bags.
Electrical grids need a constant supply of energy. Solar and wind can’t provide continuous energy because the sun goes down every day and winds aren’t always blowing. Hydropower is the only reliable “green” energy source. However, it really isn’t that reliable. A hydropower station requires the submersion of vast tracts of land, destroying trees, shrubs, and all forms of vegetation for miles. Wildlife will lose their natural habitat, and those that can’t leave will drown as the waters flood into the reservoir.
Hydropower is proposed as a clean alternative to fossil-powered plants. However, hydropower plants can produce more greenhouse gases than coal-fired power plants. The only reliable green energy option is nuclear power, but environmentalist groups are adamant against its use even if the science has proven it safe.
Charging an electric vehicle requires power, and more than 65 percent of US power production relies on fossil fuel sources. You’ll still be driving on fossil fuels, albeit indirectly. Even if the US brings down its reliance on fossil fuel to zero, the production of a single electric car releases tons of CO2 into the air by mining its battery parts and overall production methods. According to the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, an electric vehicle with a 100kWh battery has produced between 15-20 tons of CO2 even before it is purchased. Sticking to your car or purchasing a smaller model is a better alternative.
In the end, you should remember that not every green practice is truly beneficial to the environment. While some practices look good on paper, a deeper investigation will reveal that they are mostly hype and ineffective.