What’s Your Green IQ?

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Think you know a lot about going green? Take our quiz and find out your “Green IQ.”

Questions

1. T / F: Energy conservation is different than energy efficiency. 

2. T / F: USDA organic foods do not use pesticides.

3. T / F: When appliances are off, they use no power. 

4. T / F: Green choices are expensive.

5. T / F: Never leave the lights on in an empty room. 

6. T / F: You will not recoup the cost you pay for a hybrid car at the pump.

7. T / F: Paper grocery bags are better for the environment than plastic. 

8. T / F: It is not necessary to warm up your car before driving it.

9. T / F: Car air conditioning wastes energy.

10. T / F: Hand washing dishes saves more water than using a dishwasher.

11. T / F: Natural cleaners are tough enough to get the job done.

12. T / F: On average, new homes conserve more energy than old homes.

13. T / F: Organic food is better for the environment than conventionally grown food.

14. T / F: Driving fewer miles is always best for the environment.

15. T / F: CFL light bulbs result in fewer mercury emissions than incandescent light bulbs.

16. T / F: If you want to alleviate global warming, plant trees. 

17. T / F: Over the past few decades, Americans have recycled more and dumped less in landfills. 

18. T / F: Using your garbage disposal is good for the environment. 

19. T / F: You cannot trust product labels that say “green,” “eco-friendly,” and “earth smart.” 

20. T / F: You are able to neutralize personal greenhouse gas emissions by buying carbon offsets. 

Answers

1. Energy conservation is different than energy efficiency. 

True! Energy conservation: actions taken to reduce overall energy consumption. Energy efficiency: technology that requires less energy to perform the same task.

2. USDA organic foods do not use pesticides. 

False! Some pesticides are permitted under USDA organic regulations. These regulations have not yet banned the use of all pesticides, including some that are lethal to humans. Source: CNNMoney

3. When appliances are off, they use no power.  

False! Electronics that are turned off still may use energy. This wasted energy is termed vampire power, standby power, or energy leaks. Researchers estimated that vampire power is responsible for about 5% of residential power use. Source: Consumer Energy Center

4. Green choices are expensive. 

It depends. Some green options are more expensive, but other practices such as turning on screen savers, turning lights off when rooms are empty, and installing thermostat controls and water saving faucets are inexpensive and can save organizations money in the long run.

5. Never leave the lights on in an empty room.  

It depends. This is true if you are using incandescent light bulbs. With CFL light bulbs, it is not. In fact, switching CFL bulbs on and off actually shorten their operating life. It is cheaper to leave the lights on if you will be out of the room for 15 minutes or less. Source: Energysavers

6. You will not recoup the cost you pay for a hybrid car at the pump. 

It depends. Hybrids run cleaner than gas fueled cars, but only make financial sense when gas prices are high and you own the car for a significant period of time. Use the Hybrid Calculator to see the comparison. Source: Kiplinger

7. Paper grocery bags are better for the environment than plastic.  

False! It takes four times more energy to make a paper bag than a plastic bag. On the other hand, plastics take longer to degrade. Either use a reusable tote bag or recycle the store bag—paper or plastic. Source: CNNMoney

8. It is not necessary to warm up your car before driving it.

True! Turning on your car and letting the engine run on a cold day in order to warm it up is not only ineffective, it is a waste of gasoline. Cars used to use thicker oil, which required time to warm up. Today, however, cares use thinner oil so even if operating a car when the outside temperature is 0oF, it only needs 10 seconds to warm up. On a related note, you should turn off the engine if you are idling for more than 30 seconds. Source: CNNMoney

9. Car air conditioning wastes energy. 

False! Air conditioning can decrease performance by 2 to 4 miles per gallon. However, keeping your windows down increases wind resistance. The best option would be to use air conditioning when driving at higher speeds, and keep the windows down when driving at lower speeds. Source: CNNMoney

10. Hand washing dishes saves more water than using a dishwasher. 

False! A study conducted in UK found that dishwashers use between 3 and 4 gallons of water while hand washing uses as much as 16.5 gallons. Energy Star dishwashers in the US use an average of 4 gallons of water per cycle. And while the electricity used to run a dishwasher is a factor, so is the energy used to heat that extra 12.5 gallons of water. Source: Treehugger

11. Natural cleaners are tough enough to get the job done. 

True! Natural cleaners, like baking soda or vinegar, can be just as effective as store-bought cleaners. Additionally, some store bought cleaners are better for the environment than others. The Environmental Working Group is an excellent resource for figuring out which cleaners and personal care products are safe for you and the earth, while Whole Living Online provides tips on how to effectively use natural cleaners.

12. On average, new homes conserve more energy than old homes. 

False! New homes require new materials, and therefore have a larger carbon footprint. They also tend to be larger than older homes, though they may contain more efficient electronics and appliances. This is rarely enough to offset the larger overall energy needs. From an environmental stand point, it’s best to renovate an existing home. Source: Treehugger

13. Organic food is better for the environment than conventionally grown food. 

It depends. This is potentially true if the food is grown and sold locally. However, produce grown organically from the far reaches of the globe will need to be transported from its original location, increasing carbon emissions. Read more about food miles on The Daily Green.

14. Driving fewer miles is always best for the environment. 

False! If you have ever sat in an idling car during rush hour traffic, you might have gotten this one right. Since idling also creates emissions, not all equidistant commutes are environmentally equal. Source: CNNMoney

15. CFL light bulbs result in fewer mercury emissions than incandescent light bulbs. 

True! CFLs save a significant amount of electricity, and a major contributor of mercury is the coal used to produce that electricity. Consequently, using CFLs results in less mercury release. That said, it’s still important to recycle your CFLs so that the mercury they do contain doesn’t end up in a landfill. Source: Christian Science Monitor

16. If you want to alleviate global warming, plant trees.  

It depends. This is varies depending on location. Planting trees in places with cold winters actually can lead to warming as the dark trees absorb heat. The same can be said for planting trees at high altitudes. Source: Christian Science Monitor

17. Over the past few decades, Americans have recycled more and dumped less in landfills.  

False! Recycling rates are indeed on the rise. However, they aren’t keeping pace with increased per capita rates of waste production. The EPA estimates that the average American generates about 4.5 pounds of waste a day and recycles about a third of it. Even with this recycling rate, we’re still putting as much in landfills today as we did in 1980 when recycling rates were much lower. Some studies dispute the EPA numbers, putting per capita waste closer to 7 pounds a day. Moral of the story? Those first two Rs—reduce and reuse—deserve more attention. Source: EPA

18. Using your garbage disposal is good for the environment.  

It depends. If you do not compost, throwing some waste in the garbage disposal may be preferable than throwing food scraps in a landfill where they are unlikely to decompose. This depends in part on how your community captures methane emissions from water treatment plants and landfills. The best solution is to compost these scraps. Source: Christian Science Monitor

19. You cannot trust product labels that say “green,” “eco-friendly,” and “earth smart.”  

True! “Natural” does not always mean “natural.” Unlike certain designations such as “USDA Organic” or “Energy Star,” there are no regulations determining what can and cannot be labeled “natural” or “earth smart.” Often, products with these labels include harmful synthetic compounds that act as preservatives or fragrances. When in doubt, do your homework on the company and product in question. Source: The Star-Telegram Online

20. You are able to neutralize personal greenhouse gas emissions by buying carbon offsets.  

False! Measuring carbon emission is not an exact science, and there is no clear standard to certify carbon offsets. There is a great deal of variation in the types of carbon offsets that can be purchased and the number of organizations that sell offsets. Source: “The Ethics of Carbon Neutrality”

Tallying your score

Give yourself one point for each “it depends” answer regardless of your answer, and one point for all other correct answers.

If you scored a total of…

16-20: Nobody’s pulling the wool (locally sourced or otherwise) over your eyes!

14-17: You’re a natural at this! That said, we cannot confirm that there’s much substance to the label “natural.” 

10-13: Your friends might not be green with envy about your score, but we still think you have potential!

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Shannon recently completed a master’s degree in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on the religious dimensions of social and environmental justice movements in the twentieth-century American South. Before moving to North Carolina, Shannon...
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