Five Dangerous and Pervasive Green Myths

by Gail Griswold-Elwyn,
President, Rethink Renovations

Although a variety of polls illustrate that environmental consciousness is at an all-time high around the country, there is still a resistance to change. Driving this resistance is bad information; outdated, now-irrelevant facts have become cultural truisms. Below are the 5 most pervasive myths about an eco-friendly lifestyle—and the real information to refute them.

Myth #1: “Going green, building green, living green is so expensive.”
Not anymore. Five years ago eco-friendly products and services were priced higher than traditional products and services. However, as demand for these products grew, the pricing lowered and is now competitive. In addition, government tax incentives for green building or remodeling have significantly leveled the playing field. In addition, one must consider the life cycle costs of a green investment. If it does cost more upfront, what are you getting in return? Improved indoor air quality (which can augment good health and contribute to increased productivity)? Utility bill savings? Tax credits?

Myth #2: “The green lifestyle is so overwhelming; you have to commit so much time and energy to it.”
Many people think that going green is an all or nothing proposition. That not only do you have to recycle, but that you also have to remodel, compost your waste, take your own shopping bags to the store, etc. to truly make a difference. The intensity of the green movement has, in some way, contributed to this anxiety about green. The truth is, going green is a process and can only be done little by little. Start by taking your own shopping bags to the grocery store. The next time you need a new furnace or water heater, consider replacing it with a higher efficiency model. Instead of thinking about redoing your entire house, commit to using non-toxic finishes and paints. Little by little, green choices will become automatic—and easy to make and implement.

Myth #3: “A green lifestyle is hard to maintain.”
People think that green technologies and products are inherently more difficult (read: frustrating) to operate/use. They hesitate on installing high-efficiency or geothermal systems because of unfamiliarity. While it is true that a learning curve does exist, green technology installers have also been trained to educate users about the day-to-day operation and simple maintenance of the technology. On the other end of the spectrum, green products are often so simplistic they can be made at home. White vinegar and lemon juice is the perfect all-purpose green cleaning agent, and baking soda is a perfect all-natural odor absorber—no training needed. In addition, all energy saving light bulbs don’t have the slow to brighten feature and work just as well as traditional bulbs and low-flow or dual flush toilets are just as, if not more, effective than regular flush toilets. Do your homework before making decisions.

Myth #4: “It doesn’t matter one way or the other if I adopt green practices.”
If you’ve bought into the fact that our environmental problem is so complex and dire that your efforts will not make an ounce of difference, you are not alone. According to a survey conducted by The Nature Conservancy, 29% of Americans believe that adopting greener lifestyles won’t make a difference on the environment. This is incorrect; every effort makes a difference, especially since more than 40% of all the energy created in this country goes to the creation and running of manmade structures. Still don’t believe me? If everyone in the country elected to buy one package of 100% recycled napkins (instead of one package of non-recycled napkins) that act alone would save 1 million trees.

Myth #5: “Green structures look weird, plus eco-friendly housing is just a fad.”
Green construction and remodeling is not a fad. In fact, it has been around since settlers chose to orient their homes toward the sun to maximize light and heat exposure and the first city planners built residential structures near main street so occupants could walk to essential places. Green building is about the more efficient use of time, money, materials, and resources. It is a way to make spaces more functional and appealing. Good green remodelers know to respect the character of the home or the neighborhood and, in almost all cases, you would not be able to tell a green home from a traditional home.
According to a survey conducted by The Nature Conservancy, only 42% of American adults are familiar with the term “environmental sustainability” and even fewer than that believe it is possible to live that way. Although reports suggest that more than 90% of Americans are recycling, there are still some deep-rooted prejudices and misconceptions about what it really means to go green or adopt green practices into your daily lifestyle. We are intimidated by the propaganda, by the feeling that one change will not be enough to matter. We are scared, under-informed, and, as a result, readily believe what is reported. It is time to make going green an accessible alternative by providing accurate information and highlighting ease of implementation.

About Rethink Renovations:
Gail Griswold-Elwyn founded Rethink Renovations in 2007 to offer green construction, design/build, and full lines of cabinetry and furniture that minimize environmental impact. For more, please visit www.rethinkrenovations.com or call 314-323-8845.