Friday, 27 November 2009

Top 10 green living myths

With environmental concerns becoming more mainstream, a number of corporations and special interests have cropped up to provide "solutions" that ultimately only benefit their bottom line, but not the planet. They are pushing the recent public fixation on carbon emissions to the exclusion of other issues, like overfishing, deforestation, ocean acidification, and environmental poisons. This has created a whole category of low-carbon products that can be sold to consumers eager to make a difference, as well as potentially creating a very lucrative market in carbon credits. It's much easier and more profitable than, say, not overfishing the oceans or not abusing fertiliser.

Hence, this Guardian blog entry is absolutely worth reading, as it tells you how to actually reduce your environmental impact instead of just wasting your time and money on greenwashed products.

It doesn't only contain tips on what to do, but also lists a number of actions that are ineffective or counterproductive. For example, buying a more efficient car when your old car still works is a very bad idea, since the impact of manufacturing a new car is tremendous. Equally, "green electricity" appears to be something close to a scam, and you'd be much better off just running big appliances overnight.


  1. Although I commend the Guardian article for trying to reflect some of the complexity of trying to be green, parts of it risk being confusing. On the car point, for instance, the article fails to point out that whatever car you drive, the environment will benefit if you use it less. Or don't run a car at all.

    It would perhaps be better if as well as challenging myths it set out a few things that aren't myths. For example: repair, reuse, recycle. Challenging your local council on green issues. Being aware of and investing in the energy efficiency of your home. Not flying unless you have to, and so on.

    That said, I totally agree that green electricity is laughable in the UK at the moment, and will remain so until the government put together a credible energy policy.

  2. The list is certainly by no means complete, I agree. I would actually really like to try and draw up a Grand List of all the environment-friendly things you can do, and another of all the greenwashed nonsense you shouldn't bother with.