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13 “Going Green” Myths—Busted

The truth about when to turn off lights or use your air conditioner.

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Istock/FangXiaNuo

Myth: You should always turn off the lights every time you leave the room

Fact: Turn off incandescents if you’re leaving the room for more than five seconds; CFLs, if you’ll be gone at least 15 minutes.

Save money by following these energy conservation tips.

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iStock/OKRAD

Myth: You don’t really need to unplug small electronic devices

Fact: Unplug. Even easier, plug everything into power strips with on/off switches. Keeping things unplugged is better for the environment—plus, it’ll save you a lot of money.

Check out the things most homeowners aren’t doing—but need to.

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iStock/alzay

Myth: Washing in cold water won’t get your clothes clean

Fact: Washing your clothes in warm or even cold water will get rid of almost any grime, except for the worst dirt or oily stains. Switch from hot to warm water to cut energy use in half; cold, to cut it even more.

Here’s how to tell if you’re using too much laundry detergent.

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iStock/Daniela Stark

Myth: It’s better to wash dishes by hand

Fact: Use the dishwasher, but stick to full loads, use the pot-scrubber option only if necessary, and hit the no-heat or air-dry option.

Learn about the ways you’re shortening the life of your dishwasher.

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iStock/Kkolosov

Myth: Scour clean every jar you plan to recycle

Fact: Don’t fret over getting that peanut butter jar squeaky clean. Rinse out what you can, then recycle.

Get inspired by these clever upcycling projects.

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iStock/FotografiaBasica

Myth: Leave soda bottle tops on for recycling

Fact: Off with their heads! Or just stop buying plastic bottles altogether.

Find out why you should never refill your plastic water bottle.

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iStock/DragonImages

Myth: Paper is better than plastic. Or, plastic is better than paper

Fact: Paper and plastic are both lousy choices. Grocery shop with your own reusable canvas bags.

These facts will convince you to use less paper.

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iStock/Massimo Merlini

Myth: In public restrooms, paper towels are better than hot air dryers

Fact: If there’s a choice, go for the hot air.

Make these tiny everyday changes to reduce your carbon footprint.

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iStock/digitalgenetics

Myth: It’s fine to leave your computer on when you leave work for the day

Fact: If you won’t be using your machine for 20 minutes, turn off the monitor. If it won’t be needed for more than two hours, turn off the computer.

Find out how many plastic bottles Torontonians discard every five minutes.

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iStock/Janine Lamontagne

Myth: Those ‘paper-only’ blue recycling bins are literally for only paper

Fact: You can toss in newspapers, cardboard, magazines, envelopes with the plastic windows, and even the occasional staple.

Discover the brilliant ways other countries are replacing plastic.

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iStock/Michael Bodmann

Myth: You’re better off letting your car idle

Fact: Idle for 30 seconds if you must. Longer than that: Turn it off.

Here are the everyday items that take the longest to decompose.

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iStock/gremlin

Myth: But you should idle your car in really cold weather before driving

Fact: Turn it on and go.

We’re counting down the best new car features on the Canadian auto market.

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iStock/Petar Chernaev

Myth: You should always drive with the windows down/AC off to save on gas

Fact: On the highway, do what feels most comfortable. But around town, try to drive with the window down. Your hair will be a mess, but you’ll save some gas.

Did you know that Canada is heating up twice as fast as the world’s average? Find out how climate change is making you sick.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest