31 votes
Accepted

Why does the cost of planting trees vary so much across different websites?

There are different levels of service. In itself planting a tree is very easy and cheap, of the 3 billion trees in the UK, most drop thousands of seeds each year and some germinate all by themselves ...
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28 votes
Accepted

Why don't toilets use saltwater?

The main answer is logistical. Building a network of pipes to bring water to houses is a major effort, and most places where that's been done found it extremely expensive. Providing a second set of ...
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  • 1,297
23 votes
Accepted

Most environmentally friendly mode of transport

This question is addressed in a paper by Shibahara et al, 2013 (doi:10.2208/jscejipm.68.I_285). They don't discuss walking, but they do discuss bicycling, which I suppose is a more realistic method ...
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  • 1,027
19 votes

Is buying online more sustainable than in local shop next door?

TLDR: in this particular case, where the buyer lives very close to the shop, it's likely that buying in a brick-and-mortar shop has a lower carbon footprint compared to buying online. Online shopping ...
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  • 14k
17 votes

Why don't toilets use saltwater?

Catalina Island does use salt water for toilets. It's a small community, however, and they seem to be shifting towards freshwater due to corrosion issues inherent to salt water utilization. From ...
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  • 298
15 votes

Is Linux more sustainable than Windows?

An interesting question you pose. I'm writing my answer via a computer that is 7 years old and has been using GNU/Linux for 3 or 4 years. The battery or battery charger no longer works, but everything ...
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  • 3,152
13 votes

Are plastic cups more environmental friendly than ceramic mugs?

It's correct that the production of 1 ceramic mug requires much more material and energy than the production of 1 plastic cup, but this isn't a fair comparison. Plastic cups are generally used once or ...
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  • 14k
13 votes
Accepted

Is it better to put something potentially unrecyclable in the recycling bin or to put something recyclable in the waste bin?

It may depend on your local rules, but here it's certainly better to put a recyclable thing in the bin than a non-recyclable thing in the recycling. That is, if your council doesn't have any sorting ...
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  • 763
13 votes
Accepted

Which consumes more carbon dioxide: a fully grown forest or a newly planted one that is growing?

A forest of old trees sequesters more carbon per year than a forest with the same quantity of young trees. When I first saw this question I thought I knew the answer -- trees grow faster when they're ...
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  • 11.2k
12 votes

Pros and cons of bamboo clothing compared to cotton?

Bamboo Pros Bamboo is a perennial grass. You don't need to put annual effort and energy into it's cultivation. You don't need to disturb the soil, so the soil ecosystem stays intact. NO Soil Erosion!...
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11 votes

Are there any more sustainable alternatives to conventional commercial toothpaste?

My toothpaste is made from natural materials (mainly clay, small quantities of herb extracts and essential oils) and comes in a (recyclable) aluminium tube. The cap is from recyclable plastic (but of ...
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  • 5,903
11 votes

Is buying online more sustainable than in local shop next door?

It depends on your definition of sustainable. Your question doesn't have an absolute answer as stated. Sustainable can refer to an individual, a community, a region, a country, or civilization as a ...
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11 votes

Are plastic cups more environmental friendly than ceramic mugs?

You've pictured a disposable plastic cup. If you assume that you can use it a few times, then you might consider that you get through one a day. A ceramic cup lasts until you drop it. The cup in your ...
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  • 2,037
10 votes

Should we leave all fossil fuels in the ground and not use them?

Yes, we should leave the larger part of all known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Scientists have calculated that if we want to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees C (which was agreed ...
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  • 14k
9 votes

Should I dry my hands with paper towels or a dryer?

I think it really depends. For instance, for the towels, are they recycled, composted or what? Are the trees used for the paper easily regrown? For the hand dryer, is it solar powered, or does it rely ...
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9 votes
Accepted

Impact on environment: a million horses vs a million cars

In large numbers, horses are more problematic than cars. According to Eric Morris, in 1898 delegates from around the world gathered to discuss urban planning. The issue they were "desperate" to solve ...
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  • 3,152
9 votes
Accepted

Is an electric shaver more sustainable than water-based shaving ? And how to determine so for one's context?

Your most sustainable choice is an old straight razor, but there's a reason the replacement is called a "safety razor"... you're much less likely to kill yourself with a safety razor. But these last a ...
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  • 1,297
9 votes

Should I replace existing inefficient light bulbs?

Sort of. Consider the pay back time. high efficiency lights are expensive. Expense is, at least in part, a measure of the resources used to make it.* Replacing the fixtures in the kitchen where the ...
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9 votes

Is heating with candles economically and/or ecologically worthwhile?

A related question was asked on SE Skeptics - Is this tealight-flowerpot heater more efficient than just tealights? In the third answer, it is claimed the heat produced by one tea light candle is 0....
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  • 3,152
9 votes

Are there any adverse impacts if I keep WiFi router on all time?

According to this link, an average router will use 6w. Leaving it on all the time will therefore use approximately 0.14kWh per day - about the same as using a 60W laptop for 2.4 hours, or boiling a ...
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  • 763
8 votes

Is Linux more sustainable than Windows?

I will address just a tiny part of your (great) question. It seems to me that a key factor is the simple fact that Microsoft is a huge corporation, who delivers a software used by hundreds of millions ...
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  • 598
8 votes

Is Linux more sustainable than Windows?

Definitely YES. As currently supported versions of MS Windows (7,8,10) now will have problem to run on older machines with RAM under 500MB and CPU under old Intel Core2/CoreM, you can find plenty ...
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  • 481
8 votes

Environmental impact of toner versus ink cartridges?

Unless you're into printing color photos, the laser printer is the way to go. The retail prices of toner cartridges may seem a bit steep, but there are ways to refill them. The toner lasts a long long ...
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  • 549
8 votes

How to ensure you are using efficient chargers for cell phones, laptop computers, and other electronic devices?

Power ratings -- choose level VI Take a look at any external power supply (EPS) you have lying around -- you should notice, along with all the regulatory markings, a roman numeral I through VI in a ...
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  • 11.2k
7 votes

How to account for environmental impact of second hand goods

The market value of the goods is often indicative of the remaining useful life of the goods. If you know the environmental footprint of the product when new, it seems reasonable to assume that a ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Would “Guerilla Gardening” help combat climate change and/or be feasible/legal?

I think you're up against two three at least four separate problems: The scale: rallying 1M people to plant 16k trees apiece over 20 years is no way a "guerrilla" operation; it's a mass movement. It ...
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7 votes
Accepted

What is the impact of switching to smart metering?

There is very large uncertainty on this, and one should not attach much credibility to reports that do put a specific number on it. Early work suggested that easy availability of real-time energy-use ...
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  • 14.6k
7 votes

Does responsible living leave more space to unresponsible living?

On the positive side economically you are expanding the market for sustainable products, which will help lower their price and make them more likely to be developed. Another reason to make the effort ...
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7 votes

Which consumes more carbon dioxide: a fully grown forest or a newly planted one that is growing?

As LShaver writes, larger trees sequester more carbon than smaller trees, but only if they are still growing. In a "fully-grown" forest (as per the title) that process has ended — decay and regrowth ...
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