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The Top 10 green living myths

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(Read caption) Which is more environmentally friendly – buying milk in a plastic jug or a paper carton?

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Later today, the website Climate Culture is releasing a list of the 2009 Top Green Myths, things that you do – or don't do – because you've read or been told they're good or bad for the environment – but which, surprisingly, may not be producing the green results you're expecting.

Lots of these have been argued before -- Is local food always greener? Are paper bags better than plastic? -- and there's not always one "right" answer to them. But let's look at the list and then get your opinion :

1. Green myth: Recycled paper is better for the environment than virgin paper. Fact: Recycled paper can sometimes be more carbon intensive than virgin paper. It depends on where you live. If your home is in the Pacific Northwest or Maine, where much of the electricity comes from hydro power, you may be better off with virgin paper since plants that manufacture recycled paper are often near large metro areas where power is from less efficient sources. The "difference in emissions from electricity use in paper production can be larger than the emissions associated with cutting down the tree to produce paper in the first place," notes Zeke Hausfather, executive vice president of energy science at Climate Culture.

2. Green myth: Local food is always greener. Fact: "The method of production and type of food is far more important than the distance traveled in determining life-cycle greenhouse-gas emissions. For example, chicken from the supermarket is likely greener than local beef from the farmer's market." That said, there are plenty of other reasons to buy locally produced food, Mr. Hausfather admits.


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