Challenge: Reporter vs. the Web on 'going green' questions

I recently accepted a challenge from who saw an earlier article I did on finding companies that do no harm. They e-mailed me their "going green top 10 questions" and their answers and suggested I try to find answers, too. So here are my f...

Going green?
Considering "going green"It's a reporter vs. the Web answering the top 10 questions about living in a more eco-friendly fashion. (Doug Griswold/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)

I recently accepted a challenge from who saw an earlier article I did on finding companies that do no harm. They e-mailed me their "going green top 10 questions" and their answers and suggested I try to find answers, too. So here are my findings and's.

1. Why should I recycle?

Me: More importantly, as my 6-year-old daughter asked the other day, "why don't people recycle?" The National Recycling Council has its own top 10 reasons to recycle: Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources.

2. How do hybrid cars work?


Me: A hybrid car attempts to merge the best of gasoline- and electric-powered vehicles for reduced energy waste, while overcoming the environmental problems of gas and short use span of batteries. A hybrid car has elements of both gasoline powered engines, and electric powered engines, which are combined in such a way that gas mileage is increased and pollution is decreased.

3. What was the recycled material used to make the 2010 Olympic medals?

Me: "Each medal was made with a tiny bit of the more than 140,000 tons of e-waste that otherwise would have been sent to Canadian landfills," according to Olympic medals have been made of gilded silver since the 1912 Games.

4. What is energy conservation?

Me: Reducing the amount of everything we use because everything takes energy to make, create or build. It takes energy to pull the bauxite out of the ground to make foil, even though foil can be recycled. It's turning off lights, unplugging things when you aren't using them, and switching to energy-saving equipment and electronics, if not outright doing without them. And don't forget the CFL bulbs, washing and cleaning full loads (clothes or dishes) and the like. It takes every piece of that and more to reduce the energy we use to save energy and the environment. Energy conservation is simply using less energy.


5. Where can I recycle batteries?

Me: In Kentucky, go to: for a list of places that take recycled batteries and electronics. Go to to find battery recycling centers in your area.

6. What is the cheapest way to go green?

Me: Check out the queen of saving money's suggestions for going green at: Suze Ormans Guide to Making Low Cost eco-upgrades: . She makes a lot of sense. The best way to go green is also the best way to save money _ use less!

7. What percent of people recycle?

Me: According to a 2009 article on, "While 87 percent of people surveyed say they recycle, the U.S. EPA reports only 33 percent of our waste is diverted from landfills." Makes me question how much that 87 percent is actually recycling or if they really do recycle. Our garbage has dropped more than 75 percent between recycling everything we can, composting even more and using fewer things like plastic bottles. Packaging matters.

ADVERTISEMENT It is estimated that only 70 percent of the U.S. population recycles.

8. Which city recycles the most?

Me: OK, I wasn't expecting this: Lexington, Ky., was the only city, of those with more than 100,000 people, to score 5 out of 5 in the recycling/green perspective category of a survey by in 2008. "Lexingtonians recycle everything from surplus electronics to scrap metal, and they listed the environment as their third most important concern (behind only employment and public safety) and the highest ranking in our survey." San Francisco ranks the highest on many survey-based studies on recycling and sustainability.

9. How does wind power work?

Me: "Breaking it down to its simplest components, a wind turbine operates as follows: the wind turns the blades; the blades spin a shaft; the shaft connects to a generator; the generator produces electricity." Source: The wind turns the blades of a turbine, which in turn spin a shaft that is connected to a generator. This produces kinetic energy, which the generator uses to produce electricity.

10. How will future generations be affected if we don't recycle?


Me: Read question one again and then ponder this: If we don't recycle, we lose jobs, waste energy, create more pollution, greenhouse gases and more. Higher fuel prices, increased consumer debt, dirty air and decreasing wildlife population.

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