Environmental Scorecard: How Do You Rate?

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Whether it’s trading your incandescent bulbs for CFLs, recycling your empty water bottle or even reading this article, chances are you’re thinking about your daily impact on the planet.

A new Harris Poll asked “How green are we?” and found that a direct correlation between Americans’ behavior and their attitudes toward the environment. But that’s not the big news here.

While 68 percent of those surveyed recycle, 65 percent reuse things they have instead of replacing them and 60 percent make an effort to use less water, the poll also found that there’s even more potential for harnessing environmentally friendly behavior.

Of the 3,110 adults surveyed, “large majorities have not engaged in most of the green activities that the survey asked about. Even if they do so, they only do them some of the time.”

Photo: Flickr/geognerd

According to the Harris Interactive Poll, just 2 percent of adults surveyed have purchased a hybrid car in the past year. Photo: Flickr/geognerd

The most popular activities as reported by participants include:

  • Installing energy-efficient light bulbs (63 percent)
  • Purchasing energy-efficient appliances (36 percent)
  • Paying bills online (46 percent)
  • Switching to paperless financial statements (40 percent)
  • Donating an electronic for recycling (41 percent)
  • Switching from bottled to tap water (29 percent)
  • Installing a low-flow showerhead (17 percent) or a low-flow toilet (16 percent)
  • Making home improvements (e.g., windows, solar panels or insulation) that provided government tax credits (14 percent)
  • Buying a more fuel efficient car (13 percent)

So what do these results mean? According to Harris Interactive, “This is not so much a glass that is half empty or half full, but one that is ‘mostly empty but filling up.’ Many people are beginning to take some steps that save energy or water and reduce their carbon footprint.”

Only 13 percent of respondents said they had never participated in the activities included in the poll, but Harris Interactive said these results could be skewed as some of these results could be overestimates.

“There is a tendency for people to give ‘socially desirable’ answers and surveys tend therefore to overestimate the number of people doing socially desirable things (from going to church to driving below the speed limit),” according to Harris. “Online surveys such as this tend to produce lower (and more accurate) measures of socially desirable behaviors probably because respondents are replying to questions from a computer, not a human interviewer.”

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  1. Turn shut-off valve under sink to slow the water flow for both hot and cold.

    Wet yourself in shower and quickly shut off the water. One handle valve is easy to do. With soaked (a larger wash cloth is best. I use a thinner towel cut in half with the cut edge sewn) and soaped washcloth wash, then rinse, then with the completely rinsed and squeezed out washcloth, wipe the droplets of water. I’m 79 with dry skin and I have to use a very small amount of lotion to wipe over my whole body; my scalp and hair too. No large drying towel to wash and skin is not over dried.

    When I had a garden I would have a bowl on the sink top and deposit all food products except meat, bones and other animal products, into it with sufficient water, then dump it into the hole made by a shovel and cover it to make it ready for the next bowl full.

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