Living an eco friendly life is complicated at times. There are usually a lot of things you want to buy that are more eco friendly than what you own now, but when is that the right choice? When does it make more sense environmentally speaking to buy new?
Appliances and Electronics – It’s Not All About Efficiency
Replacing appliances and electronics can be a tough decision, and much of it depends on just how bad the old version is. Really old refrigerators are likely good prospects for replacement when you’re ready. Newer models are much more efficient and you should quickly see a decrease in your power bills. Just make sure the old one is sent off to a good recycling program.
Laptop computers are much more efficient in terms of energy use than desktop models, but that’s not necessarily a good reason to change computers. Could you improve the energy use of your desktop by turning off more often, and even switching off the power to its surge suppressor so there’s no standby power use or power used by anything else plugged into the same strip such as the monitor and printer?
Electronics can be problematic in general due to recycling issues. When it comes time to replace some of your old electronics, make sure you think about how you’re disposing of the old. There are some pretty toxic metals inside them.
Getting rid of plastics is an environmental issue and possibly a health issue as well. People can argue about whether or not BPA is a problem, but there’s no denying that plastic is an environmental problem. Search for pictures of the Pacific Garbage Patch if you doubt that.
They’re incredibly hard to get rid of completely. Plastic comes into our homes in so many ways.
Plastic wraps some of the foods we buy from the grocery store. It’s used in the bags many stores use when you make a purchase. It’s used in water bottles and food storage containers. It’s used to make bottles that hold cleaning and personal care supplies. It’s all over the place.
Some areas it’s easy to say that you should buy something to replace the plastic you’d be using otherwise. A good quality reusable shopping bag – not one of the cheapies sold by the grocery store for a dollar, but a good one – should last a long time, be washable and keep you from having your purchases put into a plastic bag.
A stainless steel water bottle is a great replacement for buying disposable plastic water bottles. Pick good quality and it will last for years. You’ll even save money over time in comparison to buying water in disposable bottles. And I don’t mean all that much time if you’ve been buying a lot of water.
Invest in a good filter if you really aren’t used to the flavor of tap water. Plastic may be involved in at least the casing of the filter, but as I’ve said – it’s really hard to avoid plastics.
If you’re replacing perfectly good clothes with eco friendly versions, you may be doing it wrong. What you have has already done whatever environmental damage inherent in its creation. So long as you choose eco friendly laundry detergents, there’s nothing wrong with continuing to use what you have until it wears out.
When to Replace?
In general, save the eco friendly shopping for when something really needs replacement. Don’t go chasing after the latest, greatest eco friendly whatever. That’s called consumerism and it’s very easy to fall for.
When you’re replacing something, think about how you’re disposing of it. Could you or someone else reuse or repurpose it? Can it be recycled? Is it honestly just trash?
Use things until they really aren’t worth keeping, and then think if they need to be replaced. Sometimes reduce is the real answer. Buying just because it’s the latest eco item to catch your attention is not a good reason to buy anything.