Acting Green Vs. Buying Green

Acting Green vs. Buying Green

by Jaclyn Nicholson

Have you ever considered the difference between acting green and buying green? A lot of energy is wasted in homes on showering, lighting, cooling, using the bathroom and doing laundry.

So, in order to preserve, you can change how you do things or you can purchase energy-efficient appliances.

For example, you can keep the light on in your room for just 49 minutes or you can get an energy efficient LED bulb, and keep your light on for 6 hours and use the same amount of energy. Which do you prefer? Weigh the differences here.


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Krys - July 11, 2012 Reply

Seems a little biased on the buying part of it all. I think a mixture of both is absolutely necessary. No matter what dryer you buy itll still be 6% of your electricity bill vs hang drying your clothes. The energy saving light bulbs help a TON on electricity, but it is still a good habit to use natural lighting whenever possible and not to leave things running careless. Buying greener appliances makes people a bit lazier on doing things the old fashioned way.. But if you’re trying to be green in the first place, it only makes sense to do both within reason.

Nan - July 11, 2012 Reply

Who is so dirty they need a 15 minute shower? Even 5 minutes is long enough to wash all the parts I have. Are there some new body parts out there I’m not aware of?

    Natasha - July 13, 2012 Reply

    Long hair takes longer to wash/ rinse especially with low water pressure.

lauren - July 11, 2012 Reply

better yet, do both.

dan - July 11, 2012 Reply

“flush to your heart content”???
“clean your duds after each and every use”???

This is insulting to someone who takes these things seriously.

Betsy Marshall - July 11, 2012 Reply

This reads more like an appliance ad than sensible suggestions…might want to re-edit.

Abel Zyl Zimmerman - July 11, 2012 Reply

The implication is a little jilted: Use all you want if you buy new appliances?

I don’t recall how many snack food ads I’ve seen that make a similar argument based on their being sugar-free, fat-free, whatever-free.

However, very efficient appliances WILL do more to save energy than most practices of spartanry.

Living in a tiny house can be one of the most resource-efficient things you can do in today’s age. Electrical use can be 10% or less (per person) than a conventional American house. Water use depends on fixtures, but most tiny houses have far less ways to waste water than a larger house, i.e., composting instead of flush toilet.


Ann Boughton - July 11, 2012 Reply

That looks like a CFL bulb to me not an LED. I agree with some of the other posters. Do both, not one or the other. It took a while but I slowly replaced all my bulbs as they burnt out with CFLs (LEDs are out of my budget. As my appliances got old I replaced them with Energy Star appliances. All the while, I applied good energy and water saving practices and still do. I have to use AC as I have allergies and leaving the house open is just not an option but my AC has been set at 82 all during the horrific hot weather we’ve been having.

    Alicia - January 4, 2014 Reply

    LED lights use far less electricity.
    Also, LEDs do not ruin your health, as CFLs do (which will cost you $ in the future 😉 ).
    It is well to look at the WHOLE cost, to your health, and to the environment.

Jesse - July 11, 2012 Reply

I keep repeating this to my sister who wants a new car, “the greenest ___________ is the one you already own.”

Sure an energy star washer will use less water and resources, but once you factor in what goes into the production and transport of that new washer, using the one you have conservatively for the rest of it’s useful life will come out on top. Once it dies, then please do get the most efficient replacement on the market!

This piece really does read like an advert for a “green appliance” store.

Diggs - July 11, 2012 Reply

Instead of trying to be green through the purchase of new appliances (more consumerism), why not live the lifestyle of the folks who lived through the Great Depression. For instance, instead of air conditioning or a ceiling fan, they used a device called, “the breeze.” It was right out there on the front porch and if it wasn’t, you got by. Instead of showering, which is wasteful, draw a 1-2 inch bath. That’s what my relatives in Kansas did and they got far dirtier farming everyday than I ever get at the office. Instead of reading from an electrical device or watching TV, read a book–there are millions of them everywhere and they don’t require energy.

Lee - July 11, 2012 Reply

I think Jesse hit the nail on the head. Green isn’t about just buying the latest gizmo with the lowest emissions, sustainability also has to be factored into the equation. Yes, absolutely, once your old unit have failed then replace them with more efficient ones. (BTW, that bulb on the right IS a fluorescent one, not LED; I recognize it ‘cos they’re the only ones you can buy over here now! 🙂 ) We’d all agree with that. But look at the production emissions too.
I can’t speak for the white goods trade but I know when it comes to cars, about 75% of the pollution a car is ever going to give out over its lifespan, green or no, is produced during its manufacture. Ironically, hybrids (especially the Prius/Prius+) are actually MORE polluting during their manufacture, due to the transportation of the exotic materials required for their powerpacks! It’s great that the manufacturers are developing this new technology but please, don’t throw serviceable items away for the sake of being ‘eco’. Me? I think I’ll stick with my little 16 yr old 9 mpl Nissan Micra and my pushbike, ta!

Alex - July 11, 2012 Reply

I live in Dallas. My A/C went out last week for one 24 hour period. It was 93 in my house with ceiling/floor fans on.

I don’t think so. There was no “relative comfort” at all. I’ll keep my A/C.

    Tori - July 11, 2012 Reply

    Thank you, Alex. I live in Fort Worth. A fan or a “breeze” would not only NOT suffice in 100 degree heat, but could also be dangerous. Instead, I live in a small home with LOTS of insulation. It seems that sometimes green advocates can be both delusional and sanctimonious. Maybe they all live in Portland.

      justin - July 11, 2012 Reply

      using only a fan in Texas is jst like convection cooking.. your dead in half the time

      walter - July 11, 2012 Reply

      Two questions:

      How many centuries have people lived in Texas?

      When was air conditioning invented?

        Sarah - July 11, 2012 Reply

        No one these days seems to understand that humans once lived, and lived well, with much less and that, one day, we all might be in that position again.

          justin - July 13, 2012 Reply

          you right we did live without a/c for thousands of years . we also lived without antibiotics .. give that a try for a few years and let me know how it goes for you.. before that people who could not take the heat or had diseases or were born with defects of some sort, or were possibily not that smart usally died.. in short its not survival of the strongest and smartest for humans anymore. obviously

          Sarah - July 13, 2012 Reply

          My family has lived in Louisiana since about the time of the American Revolution, so the whole “you have no idea” argument you are working proves to be an incorrect assumption on your part.

          Additionally, your comment about it getting hotter isn’t quite accurate–after all, the heat records we have broken this year beat records set well over a hundred years ago (1895). Global warming refers to a degree or two change. We’ve always had cycles of hot weather.

          Of course life used to be harder, life expectancy shorter, etc. Your comments about Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” really aren’t worth taking the time to parse. Obviously.

      Charlotte - July 11, 2012 Reply

      Every year, people in my Midwestern city die from heat stroke due to not having air conditioning. It’s all very well for people to snark that “we survived in the old days”, but the truth is that people didn’t always – and don’t always today. We just got through two weeks of 100+ degree weather, in which many of those without air conditioning were evacuated to community centers. I’d really love to see some air-conditioner crusaders drop by one of the temporary shelters and tell folks that it’s perfectly fine to go back home. Don’t worry about grandma, kids! If she’s slumped over, it’s just because she’s enjoying “the breeze.”

        Diggs - July 12, 2012 Reply

        First of all, there is no “snarking.” It is a simple fact that people once lived good lives without air conditioners (every last human on the planet). When I was a kid in the early 1970s we lived in Florida without air conditioning. We used a fan and wore wet clothing to keep cool. It was miserable at times. My relatives in southern Kansas lived and farmed their whole lives without air conditioning and mostly lived into their 90s. Now, I’m not saying air conditioners aren’t an absolute wonder, I’m saying that if we had to live without, and we might one day, we’d get by and, indeed, thrive.

        Tim Wells - July 12, 2012 Reply


        Are you elderly, or part of some other group at high risk for heat stroke?

        If your answer is “no,” I’d like to see you go down to the community center and offer some respite from the heat to the less fortunate by offering them a cool afternoon in your air conditioned apartment or home.

        Phil Taccetta - July 14, 2012 Reply

        People, especially the elderly, die during “heat waves”. If they can’t get in a shower and spray themselves with a little cold water, they can take a “sponge bath” with a basin of water to keep cool.
        And remind them to keep hydrated!

    Timmy - August 5, 2012 Reply

    If it weren’t for all these damned incandescent light bulbs heating up my house, the A/C could keep it at a reasonable 68 degrees.

    Oh well.

Will Morgan - July 11, 2012 Reply

What’s with the false dichotomy? Why dont I incorporate a little of both sides??? Can we put a third part titles “Being green” for people actually care? And ditch the superficial gestures to participate in reducing carbon foot prints?

justin - July 11, 2012 Reply

i use an old school top load washer on the second floor of the house.. the water drains into a 300 gallon cistern that is used to flush the potty and water the garden and fruit trees.. ( we dont use soap in the washer . never have.)

Nan - July 11, 2012 Reply

And it was even that long ago. As a kid, we visited my grandparents in Houston on our summer vacation. A breeze and a fan was all we had. We survived.

Becky - July 11, 2012 Reply

I have to agree with most of the comments above. I live in Eastern Washington and instead of buying new, I buy use and use carefully. How wasteful to buy new appliances just to justify using the items more. Wear today’s outfit twice? Hell yeah! The only thing I wash every day are the underclothes and socks unless I had a dirty work day.

It got over 100 out today and my house stayed below 80 with just a home made good old fashioned “swamp cooler” aka evaporative cooler. It cost me about $20 and took an hour or so to make and keeps the house plenty cool enough for me.

Chris - July 11, 2012 Reply

Humans long ago roamed the land on foot, wiped their ass with leaves, and hunted and foraged for 100% of their food. You suggesting we go back?

    Sarah - July 12, 2012 Reply


    Living without air conditioning is hardly comparable to living the life of a hunter/gatherer.

    I’m suggesting the possibility that our current lifestyles may not be tenable in the future. Since the Industrial Revolution we have been in a constant state of progress, with regard to material comfort/technology. There is no guarantee that this will always be the case.

    When you consider the mass migration to the Southwestern states that has been going on for over a decade, there is a great likelihood that that area will experience shortages of water and electricity. In light of this, especially with growing evidence of global warming, it might be wise for folks living/moving to an area where problems are likely to explore other cooling strategies in advance. Preparedness never hurts.

      justin - July 13, 2012 Reply

      Sarah,, wondering what the average temp is where you live? i have lived here in TX all my life. no a/c till i was about 25 and moved into the city.. it is hotter here than it was when i was a kid.. and very humid.. sweat dosent evaporate and cool you due to that fact.. im assuming you are a person that agrees that global warming is real.. so isnt it possible that its getting hotter. we also like most places in the world have the heat island effect in the cities.. where the massive amounts of paved roads capture and retain the heat so most nights are still in the mid 80’s all night.. until you have lived here you have know idea..

Julian Greene - July 12, 2012 Reply

Glad to see all these comments. I was a little worried if the poster was taken seriously. I say combine a little of both. I agree wholeheartedly, though, on the AC. If you live in the city that makes AC imperative, get out! And as far as the toilet, try a composting toilet. That solves it all together.

alice h - July 12, 2012 Reply

Acting green (not necessarily as depicted on the poster!) should be a full time situation, buying green only when new or replacement items are actually needed.

Tanja - July 12, 2012 Reply

I love Diggs comments. I have been reading Laura Ingalls books to my kids to help them understand the difference between need and want, and how people used to live not so long ago. We also talk about what it’s like to live now in places like Haiti and Yemen. We live in a small apartment and try not to buy too much, but my kids don’t feel deprived, and I hope that they are getting a sense of the social amd environmental impacts of the choices we make.

susan - July 16, 2012 Reply

When my old washer broke, i shelled out more than I should have for a Fisher Paykel high efficiency washer. 6 mos later the board shorted out because the thermoshnook or the whatsis got wet. Cost to repair: $200. Did I repair? No. It’s still sitting in the basement while I use a water guzzling old washer from Craigslist. You know what you can do with your green stuff…

Henry - July 16, 2012 Reply

Form follows function–a design rule that is all too often ignored because of technology. I put a white roof on my house and the increased comfort level is quite noticeable, and very comfortable without air conditioning, even during the worst heat waves (100+ heat index). I have mentioned this to others in the market for a new roof and they say that their house would not look right without a dark roof. There are many other design choices that can reduce or eliminate the need for air conditioning (and other appliances) but we make design choices for reasons other than function, such as preconceived notions of aesthetics. If you can’t redesign, then acquiring more efficient technology may make sense; but designing in order to eliminate the need for technology does not mean that you have to live in unsafe or uncomfortable surrounds.

Rick - July 18, 2012 Reply

The marketing wolf’s hair is showing through the sheep skin on this one. Clearly this is created by someone wanting to SELL MORE JUNK. The greenest option is to take a short shower, turn off lights when not in use, get a couple wears out of unsoiled clothing but most importantly, DO NOT keep buying more and more expensive imported products. It not only hurts the ecology, but also the economy. Lets make do with what we have and let them keep their expensive-made-to-wear-out-in-a-few-years-and-end-up-in-a-landfill-products.

Mitch - July 21, 2012 Reply

I find one thing that saves energy for me compared to other places I live is that I have a 10 gallon electric (I don’t advocate it over gas — it’s just my house doesn’t have gas) hot water heater, with only a few feet of pipe from both bathroom and kitchen sink/shower. That way, during the summer, hot water isn’t wasted sitting in the pipes cooling down.

The other thing I like is have a 23″ LED monitor that is only 25 watts, which I use with my laptop. I will never go back to using a desktop computer because of the noise and the power consumption.

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