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Myth Busters

Myth: It's OK to throw something away as long as it's biodegradable.

Fact: Modern landfills are packed so tightly, that food doesn’t get the oxygen, light, or microorganisms it needs to decompose properly. This results in the increased production of toxic methane gas – much more than is produced in a compost pile. Some landfills are actually big, sealed storage bins, which make the decomposition of any biodegradable substance impossible once the landfill has been sealed up.

Proper decomposition of biodegradable waste takes place in a compost pile, which is regularly turned, keeping a steady flow of oxygen to the decomposing matter.

Myth: Recycling causes more pollution than it prevents.

Fact: Manufacturing products from virgin materials takes more energy than making products from recycled materials.
  • It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials, 60% less energy to make recycled steel, 70% less energy to create recycled plastic, and 40% less energy to make recycled paper and glass.
  • A national recycling rate of 30% would reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as removing nearly 25 million cars from the road. 
  • Recycling, which includes composting, diverted over 83 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2008, up from 34 million tons in 1990.
Myth: Leaving lights, computers, and other appliances on uses less energy than turning them off and also makes them last longer.

Fact: The small surge of power used when some devices are turned on is much less than the energy used by running devices when they are not needed. Also, the design of today’s appliances and lighting is much improved over years ago, and appliance life is not affected by cycling on and off. So, turn off that light or computer when leaving the room! The energy used in the fraction of a second it takes to turn a light bulb on is negligible compared to the amount of energy it takes to keep a steady glow. That goes for fluorescent and incandescent bulbs.
Myth: When an appliance is off, it’s not consuming electricity.

Fact: Most devices continue to consume power when switched off, sometimes even as much as when they’re on. Many appliances, from air conditioners to TVs cannot be fully off without unplugging them.
Myth: Leaving a phone or computer charger plugged in doesn’t matter if your device isn’t hooked up.

Fact: These chargers are called vampires for a reason! They continue to draw energy, even when not busy charging your phone or computer.

Myth: Turning down the thermostat when out uses more energy than keeping it at a constant temperature because the furnace (or air conditioner) has to work extra hard to make the building warm (or cool) again once you turn it back up.

Fact: According to Conservation Consultants Inc., the energy used to reheat a space is always less than or equal to the amount of energy used to keep it at a consistent higher temperature. Your home is much more resistant to heat loss than you may think; furniture and carpeting retain enough heat so that your furnace will not have to work that hard to heat a room back up to a comfortable temperature.

Myth: Energy-efficient products mean higher initial costs to purchase.

Fact: Energy-efficient products can cost more, but don’t necessarily. They tend to be premium products in terms of features and warranty, so it’s difficult say what costs are tied to efficiency. Also, smaller, efficient heating and cooling systems may actually cost less than larger, less efficient ones.

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