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Bankrate's 2007 Living Green, Saving Green Guide
Personal impact
How the movement to protect the planet affects you.
Personal impact
5 worst excuses not to go green
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It may be tough to understand what it means when statistics refer to taking 25 million cars off the road, Kostigen says. But he advises looking at it like this: You're saving energy and also helping save the planet because you're not emitting as much carbon, which relates to car pollution.

"There are very simple things we can do that seriously add up to a great, great impact," Kostigen says.

Excuse No. 3: 'It doesn't fit into my lifestyle.'
It's a misconception to think you have to live out in the country to be eco-friendly, says Powers, who lives in New York City. She says urban living can be great for the environment, if you take steps such as using public transit or shopping at local farmer's markets.

"You can be green whether you are living in a concrete jungle, like I am, or you're living out in nature," she says.

Maybe you think the problem isn't where you live, but the stage of your life. She says parents can buy organic food for their kids. Suburbanites can use a rail system instead of driving to work. Tech-savvy folks can use eco-friendly gadgets, such as those with solar-powered features or batteries that can be recharged.

"It fits into all types of lifestyles," Powers says. "It's about energy use and transportation, choices at a supermarket or the mall."

Excuse No. 4: 'Green products don't work as well.'
Green products often carry negative baggage, Stafford admits. When they started being sold in the 1970s, people believed they were using "some mix of twigs and things to unclog their sinks."

"That, I think, has changed," he says. "You have a lot of green products that I think actually work better than nongreen products."

If every American who washes a car at home instead went to a professional car wash -- a single time -- more than 8.5 billion gallons of water could be saved, and the country's rivers, lakes and streams could be spared about 12 billion gallons of dirty, soapy water.

Front-load washing machines clean clothes better, use less detergent and are energy- and water-efficient. They're also gentler on your clothes, due to the technology of tumbling clothes rather than having them sit in a big pool of water and trying to shake the clothes clean, Stafford says.

Other products he identifies as being successful in offering a consumer benefit include compact fluorescent bulbs, Tide Coldwater detergent and solar-powered items. He notes that users of Tide Coldwater can also save $63 a year -- the company claims users can save up to 80 percent of the energy normally required per load.

-- Posted: Oct. 4, 2007
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