Another Look at 5 Classic Green Myths

By TreeHugger

This guest post is an excerpt from Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living, written by the Union of Concerned Scientists and published by Island Press. Find out more at

Sometimes the conventional wisdom is right, but sometimes it’s dead wrong. Here are 5 ways Cooler Smarter sets the record straight:

1. Buying local food is a great way to support local farmers and get the freshest food, but it is not an effective strategy for combating global warming; it turns out that transportation from the farm to your table actually makes up only a tiny fraction—some 4 percent on average—of the emissions involved in food production. That includes farms both local and overseas.

2. It is important to reuse the things you buy, but there’s a limit when it comes to products that use lots of energy, like new cars and refrigerators. In the long run, a lot more carbon emissions are produced by running your older car or fridge than by manufacturing new ones. Our scientists explain that because we’ve created and strengthened government efficiency standards, new cars and fridges now on the market require so much less energy to operate than previous generations, that replacing an old inefficient model for a new one often winds up benefiting the planet and saving you money.

3. While turning off the lights is always a good way to conserve energy, it pales in comparison to replacing incandescent bulbs with today’s latest efficient compact fluorescents and LED light bulbs. In fact, energy-efficient bulbs have gotten so good, you’d have to shut off an incandescent bulb entirely for three out of every four days to achieve savings comparable to LEDs.

4. Shopping for a hybrid car is a great idea but the key is to be selective. With some “hybrid” labels, you could still end up with a gas-guzzler. That’s because some automakers put the hybrid label on cars that use hybrid technology to boost power instead of cutting fuel use.

5. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort to reduce your emissions. A low-carbon lifestyle can still keep you cool in summer and warm in winter. For example, when driving around in the summer, new car air conditioners are often just as efficient as rolling down the windows in terms of energy use.

Read More: Is It Better To Live Somewhere Hot And Run The AC Or Somewhere Cold And Crank The Heat?
Read More: How to Live Without Air Conditioning and Beat The Heat

Perhaps the most important fact is that the changes you make can make a difference. For example, when people estimate the amount of energy they could save through efficiency measures they underestimate the benefits, which are three times greater on average.

TreeHugger/Care2 readers can get a copy of Cooler Smarter at a 30 percent discount. Simply head over to Island Press and use the coupon code 2Hug.


Is Overpopulation a Green Myth?
8 Common Myths About Dehydration
12 Myths About Electric Vehicles


Warren Webber
Warren W3 years ago

Live long and prosper

Bonnie M.
Bonnie M6 years ago

The problem I see is that so many just read, but don't really adapt their lifestyle for the sake of the environment, for the sake of posterity. With all the hoopla about going green, there is an on-going concern about what is really done with all the recyclable products collected. Off- topic but it is not just supporting local produce, going hybrid, new vehicle/ appliances but it is a mindset, a much needed commitment that society has to adapt. Little things do help, but the bigger picture is dismal. Our landfills are still spilling-over with stuff from overpackaging.Someone pointed out- how much energy is consumed in manufacturing energy efficient products.

Dale Overall

Interesting. Prefer to buy organic and close to home foods as it does cut transportation and hasn't taken eons to get to me. Big business and factory farming often state that organic doesn't matter while providing toxic and pesticide laden produce. Prefer free range meat without hormones and antibiotics and local veggies!

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V6 years ago


heather g.
heather g6 years ago

A timely reminder to all. I didn't know some hybridization of cars was used mainly to boost power and not lower fuel usage.

In BC where I live, trains seem to be used exclusively to transport chemicals and timber. I'm sure a lot of pollution could be cut by using trains to convey what we eat and many items we buy, instead of using big, polluting trucks. When transport is mentioned in Canada and USA, they are simply years behind other nations with regard to transportation where other nations move stock and passengers in a fast an efficient manner and benefit their economies and their air quality. This is rather crude Americanese, but worth listening to :

Mari Garcia
Mari G6 years ago

Good to know.

Ernie Miller
william M6 years ago

I question all green claims mostly how much polution does the corperating making the new electric gizmo create? I still wonder how much damage is being done in the manufacture of them new light bulbs. and no one can seem to tell me however I suspect a lot because they arent made in America for some reason I suspect environmental laws.

Angie B.
Angela B6 years ago

I grow lots of vegetables in my garden every year....I feel I can't get much more sustainable than that. I go to farmers markets to buy varieties that I don't grow. Considering the costs of fuel, transportation and storage, I don't see how it could be comparable to buy fruits and veggies from across the globe as opposed to in the area.

Rachel R.
Rachel R6 years ago

The study about food transportation was pointing out that transporting tomatoes from somewhere fairly close but warmer might use less emissions that heating a glass-house to grow them in. So the key is not just to eat local, but to EAT IN SEASON. The devil is in the details, but it still surprises me that people think that not agreeing with something makes it not true. (The problem that many of us have with global warming skeptics.) If something seems odd ask what else is going on, don't just discount it.

Barb Hansen
Ba H6 years ago

things to ponder