By Lori Bongiorno
More from The Conscious Consumer blog
(Photo: Getty Images)Anyone who has tried to live more sustainably, knows that it's impossible to do everything right. Besides, there's no one "right way" to be green, and doing something is definitely better than doing nothing at all.
That's why it can be annoying to deal with people who are smug about the choices they make, particularly when those choices aren't all that superior after all.
Do you know a green hypocrite? Here are some telltale signs of green hypocrisy. Your friend is not as green as she thinks if she does any of these things:
- Recycles regularly, but shops constantly and uses a lot of disposables. Everyone knows that recycling is good for the planet, but there's an important reason that it's the final "R" in "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle." Using durable, reusable items is better than choosing single-use plastic bags, bottles, etc., even if you are diligent about recycling. The bottom line: Just because you recycle doesn't mean you should shop till you drop.
- Buys only organic foods, but eats meat at every meal. If you can afford to solely buy organic foods, that's great. But overall food choices also matter. Cutting back on meat and dairy is one of the most significant food choices you can make because raising livestock contributes to climate change, deforestation, water pollution, and more.
- Owns a hybrid, but drives all around town alone. The kind of car you drive is just one part of the transportation equation. Walking, biking, carpooling, and taking public transportation when you can are also important. Try to drive the most fuel-efficient car in the class of car you need. That car doesn't need to be a hybrid. Remember that driving less overall by making shopping lists and planning efficient routes saves gas and reduces emissions.
- Built a green house, but it's enormous and it's a third home. If you're going to build a house, then there's no question that using durable, sustainable materials and maximizing energy and water efficiency is beneficial. But size really does matter. The smaller your home, the less of an impact it will have in the long run. The same goes for the number of homes you own.
- Takes an eco-vacation, but flies thousands of miles in first-class to get there. How you get to your destination can significantly impact the environmental impact of your vacation. One plane trip for a family of four can produce more global warming pollution than a whole year of commuting, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists' report. What's more, flying first-class can double your carbon footprint.
- Carries reusable grocery bags, but fills them up with bottled water and packaged junk. What you put into your reusable grocery bag is far more important than the bag itself. It's better to carry a plastic bag and fill it up with locally grown fruits and veggies than to tote around an eco-friendly sack filled with packaged foods and drinks that have been shipped thousands of miles.
Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green's users. Send Lori a question or suggestion for potential use in a future column. Her book, Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-smart Choices a Part of Your Life is available on Yahoo! Shopping and Amazon.com.