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Do you know the saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions?" It applies largely to the things we do to help care for the planet. Many of those seemingly sustainable choices you're making may not be as green as they seem.
This is because marketing items make a lot of money as green products, regardless of whether they really are or not. Hans Hoogervost is the head of an international accounting standards organization, which tracks how public companies operate sustainably and warned that corporations prioritize profits over the planet.
However, with so much misinformation circulating, it is difficult to understand which products or services are really good for the planet.
Reusable cotton bags
That reusable cotton bag is polluting the air and water much more than a plastic bag.
Right now there is a war against plastic and this gives the image that it is the devil. PEI was the first province in Canada to announce a ban on plastic bags and Newfoundland and Labrador recently announced that it will follow suit. But the rush to buy cotton bags to replace those plastic retail bags could be a mistake.
Reusable cotton bags seem like a good replacement, and they are, if they are reused consistently for at least 11.5 years. According to a Danish study, less wear time than that will not compensate for the fact that making these types of bags creates 606 times more water pollution than making a plastic bag.
Todd Myers, who is the environmental director of the Washington Policy Center, encourages people not to "ignore the much more damaging, but less obvious impacts of cotton bags." A UK government study highlights the fact that cotton and canvas bags have the highest carbon footprint because they require more resources to produce and distribute.
Yes, we've all seen those images and videos of beaches that were once completely clean and are now littered with plastic garbage and marine life that suffer the consequences of discarded plastic items, but in terms of air and water pollution, the cotton bags are worse. Unless they're reused for more than a decade, what ends up happening a lot is that many of those duffel bags are used for less than that time and end up in landfills.
A better option is to use wooden paper bags for lighter items (and reuse and recycle them later), or reuse those remarkably strong plastic bags and get rid of this idea that they can only be used once, for a short period of time.
Biodegradable and washable make-up and baby wipes.
Choosing a product labeled "biodegradable" seems like a no-brainer for the planet, but it turns out that wipes are among the worst offenders when it comes to posing as something they're not.
A team of Ryerson University researchers released a report this month after testing 101 single-use products (23 of which were described as "washable" by the manufacturer) and found that none of the wipes could "crumble or disperse." . safely through the testing of the sewer system, which can adversely affect household plumbing, municipal sewer infrastructure, and consequently the environment.
The conclusion of this study was that we should replace them with a reusable cloth wipe or with our hands.
Crush beer and soda cans.
The vast majority of beverage cans are made of aluminum. The good news is that they are completely recyclable and can continue to be reused an infinite number of times.
For beverage cans, keeping them recyclable means resisting the urge to crush them. It's counterintuitive because compressing them means they take up less space, so there may be more space in your recycling bin, which seems like a good thing. But most municipal sorting facilities use an automated process that sorts items by shape and size, which means a shredded can could be thrown into the wrong section because it's misidentified as paper.
It's really important to keep reusing aluminum cans because the longer they are reused, the greater the shift in your large carbon footprint. Mining the metal creates toxic by-products that pollute soil and water, and the refining process to turn it into a can uses a lot of electricity, disrupts natural waterways, and can destroy forests.
As the name implies, carpooling is carpooling and that seems like a better alternative to a single passenger in a taxi or your own vehicle. But research suggests that what transportation services like Uber and Lyft are doing isn't necessarily better for the planet. However, it is a subject of great debate, because both companies protect their data, so it has been difficult to get an accurate reading of what is happening, but there is a case against Uber and Lyft because their rapid growth has seen them. Increasingly used as an alternative to public transportation, rather than an alternative to taxis, car rental, and vehicle ownership.
With that in mind, the culprit behind the increased emissions is so-called deadlock miles, which are created when an Uber or Lyft driver is wandering without passengers. In New York City, that “dead end” trip represents half the distance covered by on-demand mobility services like Uber and Lyft since 2013. That equates to more emissions for more distance traveled and more traffic jams than they also result in more emissions.
Both companies were publicly listed in the last month, which will likely force them to be more transparent. However, several known investors have stated that they are not investing in these companies for environmental reasons.
The companies themselves recognize that they could be incorporating more sustainable practices. Lyft has said it spent millions on carbon offsets last year, and has become the largest bicycle-sharing entity in the United States after buying up its biggest rival. Meanwhile, Uber's CEO pledged $ 10 million to study the company's impact on congestion and traffic. Although Uber is not going the carbon offset route, it is offering incentives for drivers to switch to hybrid or electric vehicles, which the company says would go a long way towards improving their environmental impact.
That impact is the focus of much debate. The most comprehensive study of its kind looked at 22 US markets.And while you can't say that passenger transportation services are the only reason for this, the data shows that the arrival of these types of carriers resulted in a decline in the number of bus passengers. about 12.7 percent after the first eight years.
A recent study from the University of Toronto notes that the Uber effect depends on where you live, specifically that the transit app reduces the number of passengers in transit in smaller cities and increases the number of passengers in large cities (you can increase it by about a 5 percent in two years).
A responsible approach to services shared trips it's probably a sensible way to handle this. Whenever possible, choose the ride-sharing option (if available wherever you are) to try to get the most passengers in the vehicle. And don't make the driver wait, creating more emissions and wasting everyone's time (that's a general rule for life, too). Finally, make Uber and Lyft a last option if public transportation is available instead of your convenient access.
Written by Anne Gaviola. Article in English.
Spanish translation: Gaia Vercelli