1. (a) 2 points; (b) 1; (c) 0. Fuel efficiency decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. For every 5 mph you drive over 60, you pay an additional 31 cents a gallon.
2. (a) 0; (b) 1. Washing your car at home creates a toxic brew of oil, gasoline, and detergent that enters storm drains and flows directly into rivers, lakes, and streams. Most professional car washes use recycled water and drain their H2O into a sewer system, so sludge gets treated before reentering nature; they use 60% less water.
3. (a) 0; (b) 2; (c) 1. Aggressive acceleration, speeding, and hard braking at traffic lights or stop signs can deflate your highway gas mileage by up to 33 percent, according to the EPA.
4. (a) 0; (b) 1. Idling for 10 seconds or longer burns more gas than restarting the engine, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
5. (a) 0; (b) 1; (c) 2. According to a study from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, when in use for one hour, a gas grill emits 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide, and charcoal 11 pounds; an electric grill doesn’t emit CO2 directly but accounts for a whopping 15 pounds owing to the production and transmission of electricity.
6. (a) 1; (b) 0; (c) 2. For big bashes, buying a keg and serving beer in reusable cups creates the least waste. Aluminum is the next-best choice—it’s lightweight and easily recycled, landing back on shelves in 60 days or less. Glass, while also recyclable, is heavier, which means more fuel is needed to transport it.
7. (a) 0; (b) 1; (c) 2. Canned salmon comes mainly from wild Alaskan waters; many salmon from other U.S. states are considered endangered or threatened. And “Atlantic” usually means “farmed,” a process that uses chemicals and unsustainable fishing practices.
8. (a) 1; (b) 2; (c) 0. The average meal can travel 1,500 miles to reach your table. You can cut down on emissions by buying local produce which is usually organic or grown with sustainable farming practices.
9. (a) 0; (b) 1; (c) 2. Running a fully loaded dishwasher may use half the energy and one-sixth less water than doing dishes by hand, according to a study by the University of Bonn in Germany. And research found that prerinsing can waste up to 6,000 gallons of water per household each year.
10. (a) 1; (b) 0. Every year, Americans produce millions of tons of leaf and grass clippings; some end up in landfills. In most cases, leaving the grass on your lawn is not just greener; as the clippings decompose, they actually make the soil healthier.
11. (a) 0; (b) 1; (c) 2. Super-efficient LED bulbs are expensive—you can end up paying over $20 a pop—but they last three times longer than CFLs and more than 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
12. (a) 0; (b) 1; (c) 2. Flushing pills can send them into waterways. Recycling the container is a good move, but it’s best to return medications to your pharmacist, who will dispose of them properly.
It’s time to get more eco-conscious. Start small—for instance, by replacing just five regular lightbulbs with low-energy bulbs. When you shop, look for products with minimal packaging (read: less waste), and try to shave one minute off your daily shower—you’ll save up to 1,000 gallons of water each year.
8–14 points: Bright Green. The planet’s health is on your radar, but it’s not always your top priority. Want to take your good intentions a step further? For better gas mileage, use cruise control whenever possible and remove unnecessary weight from the trunk. Install low-flow showerheads and toilets in your bathroom. And buy power strips you can easily switch off when appliances are not in use.
15–21 points: Fluorescent Green. For an environmental expert like you, it is easy being green. So share your knowledge. Launch a reusable lunch box campaign at your kid’s school in which you ask parents to replace plastic baggies and forks with washable Tupperware and cutlery. Or start a neighborhood carpool for weekend errands—like a trip to the farmers’ market.