With eco-friendly living a rapidly accelerating trend, green lifestyle myths and misconceptions are popping up right, left and center. To keep your eco-friendly lifestyle truly eco-friendly, it’s important to start out by grounding yourself with the basic facts and fictions of living eco-consciously. To reduce your carbon footprint and do your part in keeping our world green, avoid falling for the following common green lifestyle myths:


The Dubiously Green Garbage Disposal

It’s an unfortunate misconstruction that utilizing a garbage disposal unit to discard food is “green.” While there is some small truth to this myth, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. In the choice between throwing food in the trash can or putting it down the garbage disposal, the garbage disposal is the greener of the two. However, habitually utilizing your garbage disposal to discard of unwanted food does not mean that you are living green. If you want to make a real difference, start out by eliminating the waste at its source. According to a Report by the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC), Americans discard 40% of the food supply every year. To reduce the amount of food that you waste, buy only the amount of food that you will realistically use, donate untouched food to charities or food banks, and compost unused scraps.


Paper Bags are Greener Than Plastic?


Paper bags are hot topic in eco-friendly debate, with more and more green advocates labelling them as a potentially harmful trend. While plastic bags have long been denounced for their non-biodegradable nature, paper bags are not necessarily an environmentally-friendly alternative. Why? Paper bags may decrease litter, but the production process requires the extraction of trees and natural gasses, and the short life-span of paper bags means that, in order to keep up with increasing demands, paper manufacturing plants must waste large amounts of water, energy and natural resources, while pumping hazardous chemicals into the air. With the paper industry producing more than 10 million tons of waste per year, environmentalists now ask if paper bags can really be considered environmentally friendly at all. To keep your shopping trips as green as possible, try using tote-bags produced from either cotton or recycled plastic.


Hybrid Cars Are Environmentally Friendly


While hybrid cars are better for the environment than the gas-guzzling high-emissions vehicles of a decade ago, they’re not the answer to all of the world’s woes either. Hybrid cars do use less gas than traditional vehicles, but they don’t eliminate the usage of gas altogether. In addition to still relying upon gasoline, hybrid cars tap into the power grid, and their production requires the mining of natural metals and resources. To truly go green, instead of buying a hybrid car, buy a bicycle or a sturdy pair of sneakers. If public transportation isn’t available in your area, participate in a car pool (enter the hybrid car).


Shopping Locally is the Answer


Shopping locally supports your local economy, not planet earth. It’s a common misconception that locally farmed foods are greener, but that’s not necessarily the case. There’s no guarantee that the farmers in your local community are using green farming techniques–and it’s far more likely that they’re doing just the opposite. If you want to support your local economy and the environment, it’s important to do some research first. Are your local farmers environmentally conscious? If not, there may be other local green products that you can purchase to support your economy instead. If your local produce is not-so-green, try growing your own food at home. If you don’t have a garden, find out if there’s a community garden available to you, or investigate urban gardening alternatives.