Myth Vs. Reality: How to truly help the environment

By Tanner Lecumberry, Posted December 18, 2013

With the sudden increase in environmental awareness, there’s been a rush of helpful ideas to help save the environment. Along with these helpful ideas, however, come to a lot of myths, counterproductive methods, and down-right wrong ideas.

There is hardly any benefit to the environment, for example, in choosing paper bags over plastic at the grocery store. Even though plastic, in its production and its waste, is a large detriment to the environment. According to plastic bags are lighter and friendlier to the environment to manufacture and dispose of. Next time, remember it doesn’t help anything to watch your bagger struggle with paper bags unless you want a good laugh and a squashed loaf of bread.

Though eating healthy, green, organic foods is very good for you, it may not be as good for the earth as you may have hoped. Sure, growing organic foods is better than creating them in a lab, but that’s where the environmental benefits end. Harvesting organic foods certainly burn environmentally harmful fossil fuels, as well as transporting them via train, truck, or plane. Though biodegradable, even organic foods are often packaged in plastics, which, as previously mentioned, are harmful. This doesn’t mean you should stop eating healthy, just don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re saving the world with your all-natural peanut butter on whole grain.

Hybrids are a hot topic these days, but have you considered how much energy it takes to make a new car? Once you get passed the cost, a hybrid can seem like a good deal and leave you all warm and fuzzy about reducing your carbon footprint. After a little research, however, you might find that with a hybrid, your carbon footprint might actually grow. For example, my family took a trip to Las Vegas recently. My mom’s car, a Subaru, with a gas engine, got around thirty-five miles to the gallon, while my grandmother’s Toyota Highlander hybrid got twenty-two. All-in-all she had to fill up three more times in her hybrid during our trip. Even Toyota’s official website only gives the Highlander twenty miles to the gallon. Granted, they also give the all-new Prius plug-in 103 MPG, but it lacks the ability to drive long distances without a charge. Hybrids have great potential, but they lack the efficiency found in gas-driven vehicles.

Though working to protect your environment is a noble cause, it’s important to do research before blindly following what could be a myth. Things like riding your bike, reducing the use of plastic, and recycling can be very beneficial. Most everything you do affects the environment, and it’s up to you to decide how.