April 22, 2008 -- To help celebrate Earth Day, "Good Morning America" decided to help bust some environmental myths.
Heather Stephenson and Jennifer Boulden, the founders of the green-living Web site, IdealBite.com, joined Sam Champion live at Battery Park in New York City to share their tips for what you can do to protect the planet, and save some green.
Myth 1: You shouldn't keep turning your computer on and off because you'll wear it out.
Computers purchased in the last 10 years will not be damaged by lots of powering on and off. Today's PCs are designed to handle 40,000 on/off cycles before a failure, and that's a number you likely won't reach during the computer's typical five-to-seven-year life span.
Myth 2: Online banking might save paper, but it increases the chance of identity theft.
Internet banking actually reduces the threat of identity theft and banking fraud. In fact, a study by Javelin Strategy & Research found the average time to detect fraud for online banking users was 18 days; for non-online users it was 114 days. Online banking also uses 128-bit encryption, one of the most advanced technologies available for safeguarding sensitive information.
Myth 3: Compact fluorescent light bulbs might lower your energy bills, but they contain too much mercury to make them good for the environment.
CFLs have a very small amount of mercury, but nothing compared to the mercury created by mining coal for electricity, which incandescent bulbs use 10 times more of. Thus, using compact fluorescent bulbs actually reduces mercury pollution, because CFLs use far less electricity than incandescent bulbs.
Myth 4: Alkaline batteries are recyclable.
Most alkaline batteries collected through household battery collection programs are disposed of in hazardous waste landfills; even stores that have take-back programs admit they often end up in the trash. Ideal Bite recommends buying re-chargeable batteries, which can be used dozens or even hundreds of times (depending on the type of battery), but they can also be recycled.
Myth 5: Plastic bottle lids can be recycled just like plastic bottles.
If the lid is of type 1, 2, or 3 plastic (visible in the triangle on the inside of the lid) the lid may be placed in the recycling bin separate from the bottle. All other lids are not recyclable and should be placed in the trash. If these lids do end up in recycling, workers have to sort through and remove them. For efficiency's sake, remove your lids and properly dispose of them — it will make the recycling program more cost efficient by requiring fewer employees to sort.
Myth 6: Beauty products labeled "natural" and "organic" follow strict guidelines ensuring they really are natural and organic.
There are no federal certifications for the labels "natural" and "organic" when it comes to beauty products. Anyone can claim their product is natural or organic. The best thing to do is carefully read the list of ingredients, or consult the cosmetics data base Skin Deep (www.cosmeticdatabase.com ) which analyzes many beauty products for safety.
Myth 7: You can really save gas by rolling down your car windows instead of using the A/C.
This is only true if you are going 45 mph and under. Kick on the A/C if you are going more than 45 mph, then the air drag from the windows ruins the fuel savings from not using the A/C.