Do you always make the eco-friendly choice? Answer these 10 questions to find out how green you really are. (You may be surprised by the answers.)
Illustration of Earth

1. Recycling Glass or Recycling Plastic?

2. Upgrading Your Fridge or Upgrading Your Washing Machine?

3. Carpooling to Work One Day or Biking to Work One Day?

4. Books or e-Reader?

5. Organic Cotton or Bamboo Fabric?

6. Non-Stick Pans or Cast Iron Pans?

7. Returning Hangers to Dry Cleaner or Switching to an Organic Dry Cleaner?

8. Flying During the Day or Flying at Night?

9. Take a 5-Minute Shower or Install a Low Flow Showerhead?

10. Cloth Napkins or Linen Napkins

Answer 1: Recycling glass is more eco-friendly (than recycling plastic).
Unlike plastic, glass can be recycled indefinitely. Plastic gets downcycled, which means less and less of it can actually be reused every time and the results are of poorer and poorer quality.

Answer 2: Upgrading your fridge is more eco-friendly (than upgrading your washing machine).
Did you know that the fridge uses more energy than nearly every other appliance in the home? New refrigerators are so much more efficient than old ones that Energy Star says it's a good idea to replace any that are older than a decade.

Answer 3: It’s a tie between carpooling to work one day and biking to work one day.
By choosing to bike, you take your car off the road and save fuel. That's the same fuel savings as if you carpool with a neighbor who is still planning to drive to the office. While you don't get the same health benefits, carpooling can be more convenient and safer depending on your roads. Encourage everyone to bike every Friday and you’ll be saving fuel and making the most eco-friendly decision.

Answer 4: Books are more eco-friendly (than an e-Reader).
The impact of manufacturing and eventually disposing of an e-Reader is greater than a regular old book. Caveat: Bookworms (that’s anyone reading more than 40 books a year) will tip this scale in favor of the e-Reader.

Answer 5: Organic cotton is more eco-friendly (than bamboo fabric).
Bamboo has eco-cred because it’s a rapidly renewable resource and an excellent choice for things like flooring. However, the process used to turn bamboo into fabric is both chemical and energy intensive—hardly eco. Conventional cotton farming uses about twenty-five percent of the world’s pesticides. By choosing organic, you drive demand for the pesticide-free version, and reduce demand for conventionally grown cotton—better for you, the farmers, and the earth.

Answer 6: Cast iron pans are more eco-friendly (than non-stick pans).
Non-stick pans are coated with a chemical (PFOA) that the EPA considers a likely human carcinogen and it’s slowly being phased out by 2015. Cast iron has been around for hundreds of years—a tried and true material that can even impart iron into your diet.

Answer 7: Switching to an organic dry cleaner is more eco-friendly (than returning hangers to the dry cleaner).
Hangers are well worth reusing and recycling, but the EPA says the main chemical used in conventional dry cleaning, perchlorethylene (aka perc), which the EPA claims causes cancer in lab animals, and is a possible carcinogen. The best bet: Return your hangers to a green cleaner near you.

Answer 8: Flying during the day is more eco-friendly (than flying at night).
Daytime flights have less than half the environmental impact of red-eyes. Contrails, those vapor trails that look like clouds, have at least as much negative impact on the climate as carbon dioxide airplane emissions. They’re formed by jet emissions and capture heat. During the day these contrails also reflect sunlight, so the impact is somewhat offset. At night, however, there’s no sunlight to reflect.

Answer 9: Taking a 5-minute shower is more eco-friendly (than installing a low flow showerhead).
The typical shower is about eight minutes, so by cutting it down to five, you’ll be saving water. A low flow showerhead bearing a WaterSense label saves you at least 20 percent of the water coming through a standard showerhead—two gallons of water per minute rather than two and a half gallons. Dropping your two and a half gallon per minute showers from eight minutes to five minutes saves more water than installing a low flow showerhead. Want more savings? Install the showerhead and set the timer on your shower.

Answer 10: Linen napkins are more eco-friendly (than cloth napkins).
Cloth napkins, even when you factor in running an extra load of laundry, have about half the impact of paper napkins, provided that you get more than one use out of each napkin. But do you know that the fabric counts? Linen, made from the fibers of the flax plant, is an eco-friendlier choice than cotton, which is highly irrigated and heavily sprayed.