8 Ways to Not Get Tricked While Going Green

Woman covering her eyes

Just like the game of Telephone taught us, information filtered through multiple sources starts to get a little less reliable. Going green is no exception, as with mass awareness can come massive misconception.

Let’s set the record straight on eight green myths.

1. Just Trash It; It’s Biodegradable/Compostable

The “logic”: If you throw products in a landfill, they will break down over time. This idea has become especially popular as companies introduce biodegradable packaging, made from a renewable material such as corn or potatoes.

The reality: For products to biodegrade, they need oxygen and sunlight — two things severely lacking in landfills. Landfills are tightly packed, which prevents bacteria from breaking down the garbage. So even items like newspapers, which seem like they would break down easily, take much longer to decompose in a landfill.

For compost, the key ingredient is heat. Compost piles need to get up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit for material to break down. Unfortunately, most compost piles won’t get hot enough to break down compostable packaging.

bulldozer on pile of garbage in landfill

Because landfills are tightly packed, it’s difficult for bacteria to break down items that would normally be considered biodegradable.

The solution: Look for products with packaging labeled “recyclable,” not biodegradable or compostable. And b e sure to recycle that packaging.

Let manufacturers know your preferences for less packaging and recyclable materials.

2. All Paper Should Be Recycled

The “logic”: All paper is made from trees, and it’s all recycled using the same process. Therefore, any paper that tears should go in the recycling bin.

The reality: Paper is downcycled instead of recycled. It cannot be infinitely re-used. This means that when the paper is turned into pulp, its fibers shrink, which results in a lower-value product. Office paper can become tissue paper, paper boxes can become towel rolls, etc. Unfortunately, the lowest quality paper with the thinnest fibers (tissue, toilet paper) cannot be recycled.

More problematic, much of today’s paper is often mixed with plastic or contaminated with oil from foods, which severely limits their recyclability.

The solution: Know what paper is accepted in your local curbside program, and include only that paper. Make sure to check if your curbside program accepts any paper that goes in the fridge (such as ice cream cartons and take-out boxes), pizza boxes, and shredded paper.

3. Organic Food Is Always Better for the Planet

The “logic”: Organic food is grown without pesticides or chemicals, meaning it’s always better for the planet (and your health) than non-organic food.

The reality: An organic banana that traveled 5,000 miles from Chile to reach your table in Los Angeles is less eco-friendly than a non-organic banana grown at an indoor farm five miles from your home. In this example, the benefit of the organic product is outweighed by the environmental impact of transporting it to the consumer. Organic is a great attribute to look for when shopping for produce but buying locally has a huge impact on reducing a product’s overall footprint.


The environmental costs of shipping organic produce long distances can outweigh the benefits. When possible, shop for local produce. Source: pixabay.com

The solution: You can limit organic produce purchases to fruits and vegetables that have edible skin to reduce leftover waste. Buying produce at a farmer’s market will also ensure it’s grown locally. And if your local growers don’t farm organically, let them know you want organic produce. If you can generate sufficient demand, you can help start changes in your food supply.

4. If It Has a Recycling Symbol, It’s Recyclable

The “logic”: You bought an item with a recycling symbol on it (or maybe just the words “Please recycle”). This guarantees you can recycle it in your curbside program.

The reality: There is no universal standard for what recycling companies accept. Each curbside program decides on its own, or in collaboration with haulers and private recyclers, what items it will recycle. In addition, many products that your curbside program might not accept (such as plastic bags and rechargeable batteries) can be recycled if you drop them off at a collection center. So, the “please recycle” message may be misleading, but it’s not bad guidance.

The recycling symbol has been complicated over the years by the resin identification code for plastics. Most plastic products contain a number inside a recycling symbol to let you know the type of plastic resin, but this has nothing to do with local recyclability.

The solution: Use Earth911’s recycling directory to find out which products you can recycle locally.

5. Adjusting My Thermostat Wastes Energy

The “logic”: If you leave the house during the day, leave the thermostat untouched because it will use the same (or more energy) to cool or warm when you get home.

The reality: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save up to 10 percent a year on heating and cooling by adjusting the thermostat 7 to 10 degrees from the normal setting for 8 hours a day. Because you use less energy, you save money, too.

The solution: Invest in a programmable thermostat where you can automatically set the temperature based on the time of day. That way, you can start cooling down (or warming up) the house before you get home.

6. It Costs a Lot of Money to “Go Green”

The “logic”: It costs extra money to buy a hybrid car or shop for organic produce or install solar panels on the roof, so going green is more expensive than living normally.

The reality: One of the biggest reasons why environmental responsibility has entered the mainstream is because it can save you so much money.

You may pay more for the initial purchase, but most eco-friendly products that save energy or water, or keep you healthier, pay for themselves over the life of the product. For example, the savings from an LED bulb energy use and its very long useful life make them much less expensive than incandescent and CFL bulbs.

The solution: When buying a product, don’t just think about its purchase cost. Do some research on the total cost of use over its lifetime and compare it with green alternatives.

7. Planting Trees Will Offset My Eco-Footprint

The “logic”: Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, plus they produce fruit, reduce air pollution, serve as homes for wildlife, and are the main ingredient of paper. Therefore, planting trees cancels out an environmental impact (this thinking is also a common justification for carbon offsets).

The reality: The issue at hand is not so much the what (planting trees) but where you plant those trees to get the optimal benefit for the planet. According to writer Maria Colenso, “Recent scientific studies show those benefits depend on where those trees are planted. Plant in the wrong part of the world and you may be wasting time and money.”

The solution: Don’t give up on planting trees; just make sure you have a plan. By planting a tree in a local park or community center, that added foliage can improve aesthetics and make a small difference to local air quality. And a tree you plant in your yard can provide shade and windbreaks, reducing your energy consumption.

If you plan to donate to a company or support a cause to help combat global warming, do a little research to make sure they are putting their resources to the best use.

8. If I Can’t Do It All, I Might as Well Do Nothing

The “logic”: Going green is challenging, and there’s not enough time to learn everything involved. Therefore, it should be the responsibility of those who understand it to make up for the rest of us.

The reality: Most eco-friendly tasks are easy and convenient, whether it’s turning off the water while you brush your teeth or buying in bulk to reduce packaging waste.

The solution: If you’re reading this article, you probably already integrate environmentally friendly actions into your life. The next step is to find others who aren’t as green and show them how easy it is. The key to being green isn’t guilt, it’s making small changes for the better good.

Editor’s note: This story was updated in June 2018 by Earth911 writer Trey Granger. It was originally published on May 30, 2009.

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  1. Great tips. I know a lot of my friends will not subscribe to going “green” 100% but with a little prodding I can get them to make some minor changes and it all helps. I have not gone 100% “green” but I continue to strive for it.

  2. In regards to your first point on things not being able to biodegrade in a landfill, I don’t think a lot of people understand that the paper/packaging/whatever they believe will break down has no chance to do so in the plastic garbage bag those items are put in. Add on top of that more and more layers of plastic bags, and like you said, those things never see the light of day which is highly needed for bio-degradation.

    And on your second point about recycled papers, a lot of recycling facilities don’t accept astrobright or neon colored papers. These are highly-saturated with inks needed to give off the bright color that it takes a lot of resources to get those inks out to make the pulp suitable to becoming recycled paper. However, I have heard that sometimes these bright colors can be recycled along with magazines (my guess is because the glossy paper of magazines has to go through the same kind of process as the bright colored paper to be recycled). Just be sure to check with your recycling center to see what their guidelines are.

    Great article! Thanks for the thoroughness and informative read.

  3. I disagree with your statement above: ““If you are out for a good stretch of time (say 8 hours or so), this temperature ’set-back’ will save more energy than it will take to bring your home back to the desired temperature.”

    The reality is that there is no reason to specify any “goodstretch of time”. You would save energy even if you set-back for one hour although perhaps not enough to justify the bother. The energy used is proportional to the difference between the outside the indoor temperature … it doesn’t take any more energy to bring the temperature back up … it will just take time. The furnace will cycle on and off as required.

  4. Excellent information. I should point out though that while most plastics such as PLA (Corn starch plastic), Oxo-Degradables PET, and standard PET plastics do not break down in a landfill environment, Enso Bottles has developed a PET plastic that will breakdown.

    Our bottles are designed to breakdown in an anaerobic or aerobic environment. As you know most of our landfills are the “Dry Tomb” type where we cover the trash with dirt to hide it and most of it doesn’t break down. We designed the Enso Bottle to specifically biodegrade in the dry tomb environment. It will take from 1-5 years but it will break down. We see ourselves as an environmental company, in addition to providing one answer to the growing PET plastic bottle problem; we are also promoting recycling, and bioreactor landfills.

    We know that Enso isn’t the one answer to fix all our problems but it is a step in the right direction.


  5. Thanks for the helpful information. It’s great you mention Floresta in this article. Floresta offers a variety of ways for people to get involved with planting trees. For just a dollar you can plant a tree in Tanzania, the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Haiti, or Oaxaca, all places that have been deforested. You can also sponsor a village for only a dollar a day and help a village rebound from poverty.

  6. I have a question about wet paper. I have seen many articles about wet paper is no longer recyclable. But what if dries before going to the recycle plant?

  7. Nice post. I would add two items:

    Under point 5) There are other forest certification systems you might want to mention, including PEFC and FSC

    Under point 7) It is important to ensure that any forest project is sustainable managed and certified – otherwise, the benefits might be minimal.

  8. These were some great tips. I am still going to have to do some research on the thermostat issue. According to Duke Energy, doing what you suggests will use more energy, esp. if the outside tempature is significantly different than the temperature that you want.

    The last pointis so important. I have a friend who consistantly mocks “green” behavior, telling me that I am wasting my time. Funny thing, over the last six months that I have been actively pursuing a more responsible lifestyle, he has started recycling, through me. He will still tell me I’m wasting my time, but as long as he hands me that bag of empty soda bottles, I will smile.


  9. Great article. I believe the Ghandi quote is actually – “Be the change you wish to see in the world”

  10. Chris asked: “I have a question about wet paper. I have seen many articles about wet paper is no longer recyclable. But what if dries before going to the recycle plant?”

    As one who recycles for a living I can tell you that once the paper has dried you CAN recycle it. The reason recyclers don’t want wet paper is because water adds to the weight of the paper and cheats the recycling companies who all pay for recyclables by the pound.

    That said, wet paper is often soiled and cannot be cleaned to the point of being usable. Recyclers don’t want garbage.

  11. Fantastic actionable tips! I especially like the organic food bit. I often struggle to determine the sustainable and healthy option at the supermarket…. which label to believe?!
    Local is best… and home grown is even better! Now, I just need to get a yard.

  12. We have Geo-thermal. With Geo-thermal one has to be careful in heating season. The reason is when one needs to set the thermostat back up if the temp jump is too large the system will kick into “emergency heat” and then you can watch your electric meter spin out of control. Our thermostat happens to be in a back hall and since we are built into the hillside that hall stays warmer and more constant. So we leave it set at 66 F in the winter and that puts a lot of the outer rooms at 62-63F.

    Preserving forests is the best thing to do. The NRDC had a good article on reasearch done in the Pacific northwest (unfortunately I can’t find to reference) showing mature forests sequester the most carbon and do not age out in that ability. In fact new forests give off CO2 in the first 10-20 years of life. So #1 do what you can to save forests, support a land conservancy, etc. Then #2 help plant more trees.

    Last comment, for me reduction is the goal as recycling is nice AND I am still consuming. So I ask for the receipt and let them keep the bag. My own bags go with me as much as I remember. At the co-op we buy bulk and reuse the same containers over and over. I will even spend more on an equal product if another is overly packaged. Etc.

  13. “Known as the albedo effect, forests outside this belt are more likely to trap in heat, in turn, raising temperatures. ”

    This is nto what albedo is. Albedo is a specific mesure of reflectivity. Specificly reflection of solor energy. an increase in albedo has a temprature reducing effect as less energy is absorbed and more is reflected. otherwise good article.

  14. I am involved in a dozen or more public events, many are charity walks and rides in the Phoenix Metro area. It is appalling to me and many participants that nothing is recycled from the large events. I think because the host organization and the volunteers that staff these events have no knowledge on how they can make their event GREEN! If anyone has thoughts on what resources might be available for some of these events I would be more than happy to change the way some of these events handles the water bottles, paper, and aluminum cans that are currently going into the landfill.

  15. If things do not biodegrade in landfills then where does the methane gas come from? Many landfills use this gas to power their shops etc.

  16. Clarity is important. # 8 “Take for example our recylcing rate. In 1960, the U.S. recycled 5.6 tons of waste. In 2006, we recycled 81.8 tons, an increase of over a 1,300 percent!” This statement does not meet the eyeball test. In 1960 I was recycling for our local volunteer fire company in rural Pennsylvania. We recycled newspapers and rags. Each year we’d fill an old school bus and then load a dump truck to the recycling center. We would recycler at least a ton per year, probably several tons. The local center was doing more than 5.6 tons. Is this supposed to be thousands or millions of tons? If so, why is it not stated?

  17. Author

    Thanks for the catch Ralph, it is millions. I have made the correction. The percentage is still the same.

  18. I was reviewing the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries website

    They indicated that in 2007 that the following amount was recycled. This is a lot more than 81.8 million tons as note in # 8 for the year 2006.
    150 million metric tons of scrap materials recycled annually including:
     81.6 million tons of Iron and Steel
     50 million tons of Paper
     5 million tons of Aluminum
     1.8 million tons of Copper
     2 million tons of Stainless Steel
     1.3 million tons of Lead
     420,000 tons of Zinc
     576,000 tons of Plastic (bottles)
     1.8 million tons of Electronics
     93 million Tires

    1. Author

      Great point Ralph! The difference, I believe, is between each reports’ focus on industry versus consumer recycling. I believe your study is referencing multiple streams of supply, while mine is only referencing Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), or what consumers, from their home, recycle. Though a lot more than 81.8 million tons of materials in all were recycled in 2006, homeowners’ curbside programs accounted for 81.8 million tons. Since I like to include stats that refer to our readers and not industries as a whole, I went for the number that was directly related to their actions. Thanks for the additional stats, it is cool to see what industries can do when they also get on the recycling bandwagon. If you wish to read more of the EPA study that I used for my facts, check it out here.

  19. Re: Item #3. While it would be expected that organic produce would have fewer pesticide residues, and some types of conventionally-grown produce may have higher residues than others, one thing that is implied above is that conventionally-grown produce is unsafe. It is true that some individuals may be susceptible to health effects at concentrations lower than most of the population (visualize a bell curve). But acceptable levels of pesticide residues in produce are generally protective of the most susceptible segment of the population, which is usually children. For 2007 overall, the percent of residues detected (the number of residues detected divided by the total number of analyses performed for each commodity) by the USDA Pesticide Data Program was 1.9 percent. And over 99% of the produce tested by USDA was found to contain residues lower than that allowed by EPA tolerances. Approximately 9,700 samples of produce were tested for hundreds of pesticide active ingredients. Appendix B lists all of the pesticides analyzed for each commodity, as well as detection limits, range of detections found, and a comparison to the federal tolerance, if established. Appendix J compares foreign vs domestic for several commodities, and Appendix K compares percentile concentrations to the EPA tolerance.

    The 2007 report is at

    If the link above does not work, go to http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ and search for “PESTICIDE DATA PROGRAM”, then refer to the latest annual summary.

    I just thought this info and web link were worth mentioning in case anyone was interested in looking deeper.

  20. Raquel,

    Good point on curbside recycling and MSW. I’d suggest a future posting discussing how the average homeowner can recycle through the local scrape yard. In addition to recycling it pays. Last year I made six trips and was paid $466 for scrape metals that most homeowners throw in the trash.

  21. Great piece.
    if i may quibble a bit: that pizza box is almost certainly recyclable unless it was thrown into the bin with some pizza slices–not just grease staining–still in it. yes, oils and greases are a contaminant, but they are also a regularly encountered accompaniment of even commercial paper,and almost any recycler can handle small amounts in their process–and do, daily, whether they wanted to or not.
    of course we don’t want garbage masquerading as recyclable paper, but a common sense test is usually enough to discern which consumer trash goes in which bin. believe me, the not-quite-perfectly-clean pizza box (remember, i said with no actual pizza hiding inside) is certainly recyclable..

    second, this issue of whether or not stuff, especially paper, breaks down in the landfill is confusing but again all that’s needed is some common sense. as one post says above, if the stuff didn’t break down, where does all the methane come from? and landfill methane is a meaningful contributor to greenhouse gases. (and it stinks) as most know, methane is more than 20 times as powerful a greenhouse gas as is CO2. so, this issue is much studied, and believe me, organic matter breaks down in landfills.

    the common sense comes in as follows: not all stuff breaks down as quickly or as completely (many papers are slow to decompose, for example), not all landfills allow in or retain as much water (the single major determinant of rate of decomposition) as others, not all sections of the same landfill are as wet as others, not all organic matter is the same–soft, wet, proteinaceous stuff rots rally fast (fish, anyone?), and nitrogen-poo, dry paper less so. hot dogs have preservatives in them. and so on. common sense says when we dig into a landfill that is hugely composed of rotting, stinking yuck, and find a few identifiable objects it is clear why those would make the headlines, but it is also clear that most of the stuff is rotting like crazy (hence the stink). and in fact, for those who’ve done this work, yes we find some surprising and some amusing survivors, but by and large, landfills function as huge, poorly-designed but still active compost heaps. and the stuff does melt away with time. and methane is produced in huge quantities .
    [and, by the way, it should be captured and used to make fuel or electiricty, because it is essentially the same as natural gas.] and i assure you that methane would not be there if the material was not decomposing.

  22. whoops, that phrase was supposed to be “nitrogen-poor” not ‘poo’ although it makes interesting reading as is.
    freudian slip of some kind, i guess.

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  24. Great article and great comments. Thanks for sharing. We need information like this to share so we can help make a difference. Kudos!
    Ralph – the numbers you provided were scarey. Where do people think all this stuff goes? Most can’t think outside of their own home, let alone city, country or nation wide.
    We have to inspire the changes.

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  26. Great tips. Going green is more confusing than ever these days. I really appreciate the list of foods to pass on buying organic, I didn’t know that not all organic is better. But I always support my local farmers at their markets!

  27. I’d like to point out that pesticides are not the only reason you should choose organic. I try to support sustainable farming practices whenever I can. Not just to avoid pesticides. Also, certified organic produce does not contain GMOs and I try to avoid them whenever possible. I’ve read that corn and soy should always be organic because there is so much geneticly modified corn and soy. So I think corn should be on the organic list. The trick I have found to buying organic produce is to go to a health food store for produce instead of trying to buy organic from my local chain grocery store. They have a faster turnover of their merchandise. My experience has been that organic has the most flavor and tastes the best.

  28. I think that a little scientific perspective is always needed in proofing the copy. The earth is a system. If you are talking about global warming – okay the forest away from the belt holds heat, but does it really do harm?

    Think about it, it happens for a reason that the overall effect begins to trend the other way as you move away from the “belt”. Trees are important to plant – we cannot plant enough. We just can’t. True forests take so much time to develop and run their course that we can’t possibly know what does harm and what doesn’t.

    It is not bad or good it just has an inverse effect, in so much as can be discerned. The open-minded (enlightened) view is that this warming is the effect – an appropriate response may be to ask, “Why?”

    Also, what about planting trees in the appropriate place to reduce runoff pollution. Wait a minute, this is just a web article. In and out.

    Now I may not be a “good” writer, don’t get paid, but I am a great reader. And these points have a tendency not to assist the reader in effective analysis, but more like a+b = a&b, not a+b=a+b, scientifically there is a big difference.

    Not a pontification, just a thought.

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  30. Hey! Do you want to know what else is good for the environment? If every tobacco smokers has mutually & unmutually suddenly and completely stop smoking altogether forever and ever. Yeah right. As if any good luck comes of it, or it may happen in the next millennium or whenever, or how about never that seems even a better deal. They are too busy going on & revisiting use of an addiction in euphoria ego trip(s). Loves to be eternally tempted by the product that produces promising effects. Claims made that they have more freedom of civil rights (than the non-smokers do) (only they don’t think like that, I just put that in for expressed emphasis on my part). The smokers wants the non-smokers to back-down & let them be; stop fussing, complaining, whining, & hating for their right giving bad habits; and tobacco smoking is a common known world-wide privilege that they practice & exercise very often. And as long as the tobacco industries keeps manufactures it and the FDA still approves it and the tobacco products are still sold in markets and many tobacco consumers continues buying it, this demand & supply chain will always be a never-ending ongoing, growing process. I hear that chewing tobacco is also making a comeback again with teens and younger children as the main consumers. FDA doesn’t approve “electric tobacco or e-tobacco products” because it’s made of all clear liquid nicotine in a small vile. It’s a very potent & concentrating content than any regular tobaccos (which contains many different unwanted ingredients) for producing the most ultimate promising effect. Some consumers believe that its “safe” smoking. There is not very many States that allow it and very limited stores that carries those products for it is consider illegal to sell it, hard to find (maybe online or by word of mouth), and have to travel far to obtain it once found its location whereabouts & bring carded ID(s) too. It is expensive to purchase those products.

    Any regular tobacco smokings, e-tobaccos, & chewing tobaccos are consider very ultimately gross, disgusting, hideous, obnoxious, bad & ugly addictive habits. It badly pollutes the air and promotes bad health. It makes the natural clean air goes bad, stale & stagnant, smoggy, intoxicates & permeates pollutant chemicals into the atmosphere, and causes disruptive changes of the natural balance in the ozone layers. Factually, vehicles & factories also contributes to this same world-wide cause. There are some people out there who wants to make the world a difference by finding ways to save our planet and lending Mother Nature a helping hand. There are the clean air act, the clean water act, the recycling facilities, the eco-friendly environment program, green earth day, the wildlife extinction & reservation protection, and etc. All are wonderful support groups and almost everyone wants to pitch in to help in one way or the other. But, I believe that nothing is being done to address & enforce about the tobacco smoking problems. It too causes bad air pollution that totals the very staggering highest level percentage rate than all vehicles & factories put together. Tobacco products should be treated like drugs & alcohol. It should be ban, be made illegal, and be consider a health hazard too.

    Did you know that the tobacco smokers control the very clean air you breathe & your health. They cover up the good clean air with bad, stale, stagnant, pollutant smog in every puff they take. There are millions to billions of tobacco smokers that outnumbers the rest of the people populations. Non-smokers has somehow lost their rights to breathe clean air normally without breathing the inclusive intoxicating chemical smogs. We as people share the same air we breathe but yet, the government allows the fortunate ill-will smokers granted permission to devastate, dominate, & consume the earth’s atmosphere with a very thick blanket of smog for all the poor unfortunate non-smokers to suffer, suffocate, befall serious illnesses, and possibly death. I guess this is one of their supposed answers to controlling & eliminating some of the growing people populations. That means that they are also included in this predetermined tragic ordeal.

    When tobacco smokers smoke their products the smoke permeates, disperses, & adheres to everywhere surfaces (furnitures, appliances, wall-hanging pictures, glass, etc.) it gets in contact with. There is an enormous buildup of some sticky yucky residue or grimy tacky gunk that settles onto any surfaces left undone due to overtime exposure. It is so very very hard to wash out that nasty horrible stuff off to make & feel like almost new again. Your clothes, your hair, your breath, your skin, and other cloth materials will reek with tobacco smoke. No matter how hard you try to deodorize, sanitize, disinfect, & fumigate with the pretty fragrances of perfumes/colognes, detergents, fabric softeners, bleach, shampoos/hairsprays, toothpastes/mouth rinses/breath lozenges/gums, room air freshener sprays, fragrant soaps/deodorants, or even aromatic burning incenses to mask/cover-up the nasty dingy stench of tobacco smoke. The tobacco smoke will always completely overpower the most prettiest fragrances there is on the market. The pretty fragrances is a temporary linger but tobacco smoke will permanently outlasts anything in the air & everything it touches.

    2nd & 3rd hand-smoke (indirect & passive smoke) will affect the health of infants, toddlers, other young children, any school age children, and adults & senior citizens who are non-smokers. All non-smokers are vulnerable to & the health is intolerable to the high-risk of getting any type of serious illnesses and/or death caused by the 1st hand-smokers (direct, deliberate, ignorant, inconsiderate, lazy & stubborn, and irresponsible smokers). The smokers seemed to be somewhat immune & endure from it but, maybe they had time to get used to it or grew accustomed to it. Otherwise, tobacco smoking is bad for everyone’s health and for this planet we make our home in.

  31. The article was helpful in that I speak to children about solid waste management and what choices they can make to impact the waste stream into the local landfill. I do tell them that sometimes there is a dilemma attached to recycling. For example, my local garden center sells individual plants in recyclabel pots – #5 – which my hauler will take. I called to make sure. The garden center also will accept the pots back for re-use. I know if I put the pots in the recycyle bin, they will be part of that remanufacture process, but if I give them a second life back at the garden center (re-use) I don’t know what will happen to them. I give this example along with other examples so that the students know there is not just one answer to the question of “what do I do with this now?” Also, I try to tell them that sometimes there is expense involved in getting the re-usable/recyclable material to the place where it will be treated in the “greenest” way. People who are committed to the low environmental impact have to be willing – in my opinion – to go to some expense or effort or both. It is paying it forward, so to speak. In my community, many individuals cannot get past the “it’s complicated” or it’s going to cost me” excuses and so they do nothing. This is so frustrating.

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