LIVING GREEN for Jan. 31, 2013

For Weekly SurgeJanuary 28, 2013 

Myth-busting the green lifestyle

You have probably embarked on the journey of green living, especially if you have been reading this column. Living green is more than just media hype. It has become integrated into our lives through local businesses, transportation, and our education. I feel like everywhere I turn, there is someone, somewhere advertising their living green pride. From local businesses promoting energy conservation to schools promoting recycling contests, the green pride has spread deeper into our community.

However, there are still a few skeptics out there and no matter what, they won’t believe anything is green or eco-friendly about our society. I did manage to come up with a few well-known myth busters about green living that I’d like to share:

MYTH - Small Changes Don’t Make a Difference:

When it comes to green living, sometimes all we have are small changes in our everyday behavior. If we collectively make these daily changes in our life to be greener, this would add up to a bigger change within our community. While a local, state or federal policy or law seems like it would have a bigger and stronger impact, the questions of enforcement and costs come into play. Let’s face it, policy change takes a lot of time and a lot of money. Why wait for that to happen? Most options for green living are voluntary and if we prove that we want to make a difference on our own, then others will follow suit whether it be a policy change or just simple behavior change. Call it the domino effect. If you recycle at home, then get your neighbor to recycle too and so on and so on. Pretty soon, you could have your entire neighborhood recycling and then the community may wish to explore other options for its trash service.

MYTH - Bottled Water Is Better Than Tap Water:

In 2007, Americans consumed more than 50 million single serve bottles of water with a recycling rate of only 23 percent, so more than 38 billion bottles ended up in landfills, according to the Ban the Bottle campaign Web site. Bottled water costs 750 times more than tap water, mostly because of the costs of the bottle it comes in and the marketing of that bottle. But did you know you can drink the recommended eight glasses of water per day from the tap for less than 50-cents per year or pay $1,300 a year for bottled water. It’s your choice. While bottled water seems convenient, it’s truly a rip-off. We can debate all day about where bottled water actually comes from and the answer is simple for the ones such as Aquafina and Dasani labeled “purified” - it comes from the tap. On Jan. 1, Concord, Mass. became the first community to ban bottled water, but there is still the debate about bottled water versus tap water. Concord’s bylaw states, “It shall be unlawful to sell non-sparkling, unflavored drinking water in single-serving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of 34 ounces or less.” Concord’s Health Division will enforce the ban. Spearheaded by 82-year-old Jean Hill, the ban strips the town from selling Aquafina, Dasini and other bottled water. If you are concerned about the water quality in your area, then invest in a water filter such as a Brita and a travel mug to BYOW – bring your own water.

MYTH - Recyclables Get Sorted Out of the Trash:

This is not true and I know this for a fact because I worked at the county landfill for almost seven years. Once you toss it in the trash, it gets transported to the landfill in Conway and gets buried as trash. I promise you that there is no special task force or giant magnet to sort out the recyclables from the trash. So you have the following options to make sure it is actually recycled: 1) Haul it yourself to one of the 24 recycling centers in Horry County; 2) Get a curbside bin if you live in the city of Conway, city of Myrtle Beach, town of Surfside Beach, or the city of North Myrtle Beach. You can mix your recyclables together because the recyclables do get sorted at a facility in Conway called the Materials Recycling Facility. For details on recycling or to request a facility tour, contact the Horry County Solid Waste Authority at 347-1651 or visit www.SolidWasteAuthority.org

Jennifer Sellers is the sustainability coordinator at Coastal Carolina University and offers her eco-views at her blog, mygreenglasses.com. Contact her at jen@mygreenglasses.com.

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