Category Archive: Myths

Myth: Plant-Based Fake Meat Is Better for the Environment Than Real Meat

With a title like “plant-based,” it’s easy to assume a product is good for the environment. But that’s not always the case. Synthetic meat is a prime example. The production of “plant-based” meats creates five times more emissions than just eating the raw legumes and vegetables in some of the patties. Plant-based patty production also creates roughly the same amount of emissions as the production of real chicken.  Lab-grown meat is even worse. Cell-based meat production generates five times the emissions of real chicken and roughly the same emissions as real beef. But either way, consumers probably shouldn’t put too much...

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Myth: All the Trash in the Ocean Is Plastic

There is plastic trash in the ocean, but it is certainly not the only trash that finds its way into the sea. As much as 40 percent of the trash in the ocean is something other than plastic: glass, aluminum, cigarettes, or other items that were improperly disposed of.  Of the plastic in the ocean, not all of it is small, single-use items either. In fact, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- a floating mass of trash near Hawaii -- consists predominantly of abandoned fishing gear rather than the small items we typically think of as trash.  This post is part of...

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Myth: Cows Are the Worst Contributors to Climate Change

Cows often field a lot of blame for climate change. The environmentalist movement has encouraged people to go vegan to stop climate change. While cows do pass (greenhouse) gas, their role in the big picture of climate change is actually quite small. All American livestock are responsible for just one percent of the global emissions.  In fact, one study found that if the entire country went vegan, total emissions for the United States would only drop 2.6 percent, only a fraction of a percent of total global emissions.  This post is part of a weekly series on environmental myths. You can find...

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Myth: Plastic Bans Are Effective at Reducing Plastic Waste

One would think that banning plastic would guarantee less plastic waste, right? That’s not actually the case. Studies have shown that plastic bans are sometimes ineffective and can even make some problems worse.  One such study, conducted by researchers from the Australian National University, found that a ban on plastic bags resulted in the use of larger, thicker plastic bags. It also did not affect the total amount of plastic bag litter in the area. Another study from the University of Sydney found that a bag ban resulted in the consumption of 12 million more pounds of plastic garbage bags, which...

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Myth: Organic Food Production Is Better for the Environment

Foods labeled as organic are often marketed as eco-friendly options, but organic food production is anything but eco-friendly. Organic foods are supposed to be grown without the use of pesticides, but pesticides help farmers grow food more efficiently, with fewer plants yielding more food.  When organic foods are grown without pesticides, they tend to have lower yields and require more land. The need for more land results in deforestation, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and increased food waste as organic produce tends to rot more rapidly. One study found that organic produce emits 21 percent more greenhouse gases because of the need...

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Myth: Biodegradable Products Quickly Decompose

Many believe that products dubbed “biodegradable” are automatically good for the environment. But the reality is that the term “biodegradable” only means that the product will break down in nature at some point. It does not mean that the product will decompose rapidly. Most biodegradable products have their decomposition abilities tested under ideal conditions -- just the right amount of sun, water, oxygen, and soil conditions. Nature rarely provides ideal conditions. One study found that a “biodegradable” grocery bag could still carry several heavy books more than three years after being buried in the ground or drifting at sea.  This post is...

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Myth: The U.S. Is the Top Producer of CO2 Emissions

Environmentalists like to place the blame for climate change on the United States, but the U.S. does not lead the globe in CO2 emissions. China is responsible for more than a quarter (28%) of the globe’s CO2 emissions. And while the United States leads the world in reducing CO2 emissions, China continues to develop coal power plants -- a main driver of CO2 emissions.  This post is part of a weekly series on environmental myths. You can find more myths here.

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Myth: Glass Can Be Recycled Everywhere

The only environmental selling point of glass is that it is recyclable. (Glass production is the most carbon-intensive of any beverage container.) But many cities have stopped accepting glass for recycling.  The main reason glass recycling is being halted is that it can be dangerous and difficult to sort from other recycled materials. The fragility of glass is the main problem. Sharp broken pieces make it dangerous for workers to collect and sort while tiny shards can be difficult to separate from other large recyclable items. These two factors are the main reasons why many cities have stopped glass recycling altogether.  This...

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Myth: All Fossil Fuels Are Equally Bad for the Environment

The foundational element of life is carbon. Burning any fossil fuel will result in the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which scientists believe is the main driver of climate change. But not all fossil fuels are equally harmful to the environment.  For example, if the same amount of energy is created by coal and natural gas, the coal will emit nearly double the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In fact, the broad transition away from coal to natural gas in the United States is one of the main reasons the U.S. led the world in carbon emissions...

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Myth: Biofilm Only Grows in Old Pipes

Biofilm is a plaque-like sludge that can grow in damp environments. Biofilm is especially concerning for public health experts because it can grow inside tap water pipelines if they are not properly maintained. The pathogen-filled sludge is often credited for causing water-borne illness outbreaks, including E. coli infections. Biofilm growth is common in old household pipes, but that is not the only location where it can grow. Biofilm can also grow on containers that are not properly washed including in reusable water bottles and straws.  This post is part of a weekly series on environmental myths. You can find more myths here....

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