Thursday, February 25, 2010

What Not To Do

Carolyn posted a list of ten surprising ways you're killing the earth without even knowing it. There's some things on it I hope most of us know are problematic, like using incandescent lightbulbs or disposable cutlery, or not turning electronics all the way off with a power bar, or not properly insulating the house, but it's amazing to me what people still don't know or don't want to know....

If you ran around changing all your lightbulbs to the new energy efficient kind, good for you, but be aware that they're toxic if broken because they contain mercury.  If you saw The Cove, you'll remember the children in it with mercury poison.  It isn't pretty.  This is serious stuff.  DON'T just start sweeping up like usual or the mercury dust will become inhaled by anyone in the area.  Energy Star has pointers on how to clean properly:  First open all the windows to ventilate the room.  Then use a piece of stiff paper or cardboard to pick up big pieces, and use duct tape to get all the little pieces and the dust.  Then use a damp cloth to do a final clean up, but throw the cloth away - don't wash it.  The link says you can put it all in the regular garbage, but after all that, I think taking it to the hazardous waste depot is a better idea. 

One that's really baffling me that Carolyn also mentions is washing clothes in cold water.  We really don't need our clothes to be boiled clean for sanitary reasons.  I've washed everything in cold water for years except for diapers.   I think anything with feces on them needs that hot water wash.  For anything else, hot water can actually set stains in.  There's a facebook site I keep getting invited to and ignoring:  I Do 30.   It suggests people turn their washing machines down to 30 degrees.  I'm assuming that's celsius, which is still pretty warm.  I don't know how to turn it down anyway; it's just always set to cold now.

And on the laundry note, chlorine bleach should never go down the drain because it's a pesticide that kills the good bacteria in the sewers, the kind we need to break down "solids" and grease down there.  I use hydrogen peroxide instead, but how white do we really need our clothes to be?  I expect that one's not going to shift any time soon because people really do need clothes extra clean to feel accepted in society.  You can't get ahead in this world if your shirt isn't as bright and shiny as the next guy's.   

Any other thing people should know about but don't??

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