The Official PPRC P2 Quiz

So, how ingrained is pollution prevention in your daily living? Take the Official PPRC P2 Quiz to assess what you do and how much you know in regards to energy, transportation, water, solid waste, cleaning, yard and lawn care, and painting. After you answer each of the 16 questions in this multiple choice quiz, you'll see an answer key immediately below (no peeking!) that will provide background information and help you tally your score. You'll get one point for a great answer and half a point for a good answer. No points are awarded for answers that are only fair to middlin'. And if you pick an answer only a wastrel could love, you get a one-point deduction. We hope this quiz is informative and entertaining. Watch for the trick questions. Now, let's get started and have fun!

 

ENERGY


1. Do you turn your computer off when you're done working on it?

A. Never. It's bad for the computer to turn it off.
B. Sometimes
C. Always
D. I don't have a computer, because they're all going to crash in the year 2000 and we'll end up living in caves, so it doesn't matter.

Answer Key

Computers and other electronic office equipment are among the fastest growing sources of energy consumption, accounting for 7 percent of commercial electricity usage. A typical business with 100 computers, 10 laser printers and three copiers will spend about $4,700 per year to power the equipment. Unfortunately, much of that money is wasted running machines at night and on weekends Turning computers off before prolonged inactive periods will save money, reduce the load on air conditioning equipment, and prevent pollution caused by generating wasted electricity. Turning computers off wonít damage the equipment. Donít count on screen savers to save energy because they wonít. Just turn it off. There, that wasnít so hard, was it?
Source: EPA-Energy Star Office Equipment
http://www.epa.gov/office

Which answer did you select?

A. Subtract one point
B. No points
C. Add one point
D. No points. When youíre in the market for a computer or other office equipment, get a model with an EnergyStar label. The average home office spends $135 per year on energy. An EnergyStar computer, monitor and fax machine could cut that bill by 45 percent. Check it out at http://yosemite1.epa.gov/estar/consumers.nsf/content/officeequipment.htm.

 

2. How many compact fluorescent light bulbs do you have in your house?

A. One or two
B. Three or more
C. I won't use them. I don't like the flickering.
D. I don't know. Is this one of those dumb light bulb jokes?

Answer Key

Compact fluorescent light bulbs can last 10+ times longer than conventional incandescent bulbs, and use only about one-fourth the energy consumed by incandescents with equivalent light output. They produce warm, natural light and turn on without flickering. Use compact fluorescents in places where the lights are on three or more hours per day to obtain maximum savings.
Source: Seattle City Light, LightWise Program
http://www.ci.seattle.wa.us/light/conserve/resident/cv5_lw1.htm
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network
http://www.eren.doe.gov/erec/factsheets/eelight.html

Which answer did you select?

A. Add half a point
B. Add one point
C. Subtract one point. Newer lamps contain electronic ballasts that eliminate flickering.
D. No points. If you're spending too much money on lighting, the joke's on you.

 


3. What kind of refrigerator is the least energy-efficient?
A. Top freezer
B. Bottom freezer
C. Side-by-side
D. The kind found in houses with teenagers who make repeated trips to the refrigerator and hold the door open indecisively, usually on the hottest days of the year.

Answer Key

Side-by-sides typically use 7-13 percent more power than similarly-sized models with top or bottom freezers.
Sources: Rocky Mountain Institute
http://www.rmi.org/images/other/E-HEB-Refrigerators.pdf
Appliance Buyers Guide
http://www.appliance.com/cc/fridge/index.html

Which answer did you select?

A. No points
B. No points
C. Add one point
D. No points. There's not much we can do about your teenagers. But you could get yourself an EnergyStar refrigerator, the most efficient of which are a third more efficient than models produced as recently as 1990. Search for one at http://www.energystar.gov/products/refrigerators/.

 


4. Do you use rechargeable batteries for portable electronic devices?
A. Sometimes
B. Always
C. Why bother? What's a few more batteries in the landfill?
D. What are rechargeable batteries?

Answer Key

Energy from the wall socket is far cheaper than energy from a battery. When battery power is necessary, rechargeables can reduce solid waste and save money. You'll recoup your investment in a recharger and batteries over an approximately two-year period. "Ni-cad" rechargeables, which can be reused hundreds of times, contain nickel and cadmium, so they need to be recycled when they're used up. Call 1-800-822-8837 to find a ni-cad battery recycler in your area. Other types of rechargeable batteries are rechargeable alkaline, nickel metal hydride and lithium. Different types of rechargeables have differing performance characteristics.
Source: Rocky Mountain Institute
http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid327.asp

Which answer did you select?

A. Add half a point
B. Add one point
C. Subtract one point. With a rechargeable, you get much more work out of the battery's "embodied energy," the energy which was consumed in making the battery.
D. Subtract one point. Energy from a disposable AA battery costs about $530 per kilowatt-hour. Battery recharging energy from the Northwest grid costs pennies per kilowatt-hour. Do the math.

 

TRANSPORTATION


5. How often do you use public transportation during the work week?

A. Every day
B. A couple times a week
C. Occasionally
D. Never. My car makes me sophisticated and glamorous.

Answer Key

Nationwide, traffic congestion wastes $40 billion annually in fuel and time. An average bus carrying seven or more passengers is more fuel-efficient than a single-occupancy vehicle. Burning one gallon of gasoline sends about 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. Other benefits of busing it include avoided parking fees, less wear and tear, less aggravation, and time for activities more productive than staring at some guy's taillights.
Source: Transportation Choices
http://www.transportationchoices.org

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point
B. Add half a point
C. No points
D. Subtract one point. Take the bus. Trust us, you'll still be sophisticated and glamorous.

 


6. Do you use your car to travel to places within walking distance?

A. Never
B. Rarely
C. Sometimes
D. Always. I belong to a health club, so I don't need any more exercise.

Answer Key

More than 25 percent of auto trips are less than one mile in length. In a seven-mile trip, 90 percent of auto emissions are spewed out in the first mile, before the engine has had a chance to warm up. Walking and bicycling are practical alternatives to short auto trips.
Source: Worldwatch Institute
http://www.worldwatch.org/alerts/pr980826.html

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point
B. Add half a point
C. No points
D. Subtract one point. Take a walk and meet your neighbors. They may have tools you can borrow.

 

WATER


7. Do you leave the water running while brushing your teeth?

A. Never
B. Occasionally
C. About half the time
D. Yes, but I also roll up the toothpaste tube from the bottom, so I'm not all bad.

Answer Key

Letting the water run while brushing your teeth can waste up to 10 gallons of water per brushing. Why pour money down the drain?
Source: Clark Public Utilities, Vancouver, Wash.
http://www.clarkpublicutilities.com/Homework/Residential/waterServices/waterConsIndoors_html

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point
B. No points
C. Subtract one point
D. Subtract one point. Turn off the water, use a little less toothpaste and make the tube last longer. They're made of aluminum and plastic.

 


8. Whatís the most efficient way to wash clothes?

A. Conventional top loader on warm wash and warm rinse.
B. Conventional top loader on hot wash and cold rinse.
C. EnergyStar washers on cold wash and cold rinse.
D. Bar your teenagers from the washing machine until they stop laundering one pair of socks in hot water at the large load setting.

Answer Key

Heating water accounts for 80 to 85 percent of a washing machineís energy consumption. With a gas water heater set at 120 degrees, the energy cost of a hot wash, hot rinse cycle is five times the energy cost of a cold wash, cold rinse cycle. The most common type of washer used in the U.S. is the top loader, and a conventional large model will use 30 to 40 gallons of water for the wash and rinse cycles. In contrast, front loaders and water-efficient top loaders will use 30 to 40 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than conventional top loaders.
Sources: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network
http://www.eren.doe.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers/appliances.html
EPA-EnergyStar Clothes Washers
http://www.energystar.gov/products/clotheswashers/
"Consumers Guide to Home Energy Savings," by Alex Wilson and John Morrill

Which answer did you select?

A. Subtract one point. Warm rinses won't get clothes any cleaner than cold rinses
B. No points
C. Add one point. EnergyStar washers are more efficient than conventional top loaders.
D. Canít help you with your teens. See how much an EnergyStar washer could save you by trying out the clothes washer savings calculator at http://www.energystar.gov/products/clotheswashers/calculator.asp.

 


9. How much water do you put on your lawn during the summer?

A. One inch per week
B. Three inches per week
C. Three or more inches daily. Unless the lawn is iridescent green, the neighbors will turn me in to the homeowners committee.
D. I don't. I hate mowing, the lawn is brown, and I don't care what the neighbors say.

Answer Key

Watering deeply but infrequently will keep your lawn healthy. One inch per week in the summer, less in the spring and fall, is recommended.
Source: Seattle Public Utilities Natural Lawn Care
http://www.cityofseattle.net/util/lawncare/6steps.htm

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point
B. Subtract one point
C. Subtract one point. Cut back to the recommended level. When the homeowners committee comes to arrest you, explain that overwatering wastes water, leaches nutrients that pollute surface and groundwater, and encourages lawn disease.
D. Add one point. Letting a lawn go dormant will save lots of water. Watering a dormant lawn deeply once per month in the summer will help it recover more quickly when the fall rains arrive. Plus, if you have a gasoline-powered mower, you can put it away and help keep the air clean.

 


10. What's an easy way to check your toilet for leaks?

A. Listen for gurgling sounds
B. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank
C. Look for icky puddles on the floor
D. Call a plumber and hope your credit card isn't maxed out.

Answer Key

Leaky toilets can waste more than 50 gallons of water per day, and are a common cause of high household water bills. Put about 12 drops of food coloring in the tank and wait an hour. If you see the coloring in the toilet bowl after the hour is up, you have a leak.
Sources: Minnesota Environment and Energy Resource Center
Toiletology 101
http://www.toiletology.com/leaking.shtml

Which answer did you select?

A. Add half a point. Gurgling is a sign of a leak, but toilets can leak silently too.
B. Add one point.
C. No points. Puddles are a sign of other problems, such as a decaying wax ring.
D. Add half a point. Save some money and do the test yourself.

 

SOLID WASTE


11. What items does your company recycle?

A. Vacuous corporate slogans
B. Through our donation program, we provide old magazines to schools, libraries and dentists' offices.
C. We use a lot of stuff, but we recycle paper, plastic, metal ... the works.
D. We practice source reduction and reuse, then recycle what's left.

Answer Key

Of the 208 million tons of solid waste generated in the U.S. in 1995, nearly 60 million pounds were recycled. But recycling is not a complete solution. The amount of waste Americans produce continues to rise. Per-capita waste was 2.7 pounds per day in 1960. By 2000, the per-capita number is expected to be 4.4 pounds per day. Waste that isn't created doesn't have to be managed later. For more ideas on greening up your office, visit http://p2.unl.edu/p2/office.html
Source: EPA Municipal Solid Waste Factbook
http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/factbook/

Which answer did you select?

A. No points. Now quit reading Dilbert and go back to work.
B. Add half a point. Sharing publications helps reduce paper waste. Consider subscribing to on-line publications.
C. Add half a point. That's nice. But start with reducing waste at the source.
D. Add one point. Your company has the sequence right.

 


12. Which is a better environmental choice for carrying groceries, paper or plastic?

A. Paper
B. Plastic
C. Both are about the same
D. A pox on both houses. Use reusable totes.

Answer Key

It's a mixed bag. The answer depends on whom you ask and what assumptions they use. It gets complex, with energy, water, resource depletion, and hazardous chemical use among the considerations that must be taken into account. There's not enough time to do a comparative life-cycle analysis when you're in the checkout line. You can avoid the question entirely and still come out right — bring a long-lasting reusable bag. Cloth will do the job.
Sources: Paper vs. Plastic?
http://www.grrn.org/resources/paper_plastic.html

Which answer did you select?

A. Subtract one point
B. Subtract one point
C. Subtract one point
D. Add one point. It pays to think outside the bag.

 


13. What kind of cup do you use for your morning coffee at work?

A. Disposable paper
B. Disposable polystyrene foam
C. Reusable mug
D. I don't drink coffee. Yes, there are a few of us in the Northwest.

Answer Key

This is another case in which comparing different products using varying assumptions can give you the jitters. In general, manufacturing disposable paper and polystyrene foam cups creates a series of impacts, from habitat disturbance at the point of extraction to final disposal in a landfill. Both paper and foam production are energy and chemical-intensive processes. Bleaching paper with chlorine compounds creates dioxins. Polystyrene foam litter in the ocean endangers marine creatures such as sea turtles. While reusables are not perfect, because of manufacturing resource consumption and wash water impacts, reuse can help you get more work out of a product's "embodied energy," the energy which went into making it. Put that in your coffee and drink it.
"50 Simple Things Your Business Can Do to Save the Earth," by Earth Works Group
Center for Marine Conservation
http://www.cmc-ocean.org/3

Which answer did you select?

A. Subtract one point
B. Subtract one point
C. Add one point
D. Add one point. Sometimes it pays to do nothing

 

CLEANING


14. Do you use baking soda for household cleaning?

A. Frequently. It works great for cleaning bathroom surfaces.
B. Sometimes, if I run out of commercial cleaning products
C. Never. I love the smell of chlorine in the morning.
D. Huh? I use baking soda for cookies.

Answer Key

Many commercial cleaning products contain hazardous ingredients, such as chlorine, silica, ammonia, acids, or lye. Baking soda is an adequate substitute for general kitchen and bath cleaning.
Sources: King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program
http://www.metrokc.gov/hazwaste/house/cleaners.html

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point
B. No points
C. Subtract one point. One of the hazards of using commercial cleaners is that chlorine in one product can react with ammonia or acids in others, creating toxic gases.
D. No points. Baking soda has many uses besides baking. You could look it up.

 

LANDSCAPING


15. Do you use any of the following practices to maintain your yard responsibly?

A. Invite slugs over for a few microbrews
B. Control aphids with ladybugs
C. Plant Northwest native species such as ocotillo
D. Add about 10 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Answer Key

The keys to having a healthy yard with minimal use of fertilizer, chemicals and water are building healthy soil with organic supplements, having the right plants in the right location, and trying non-toxic pest management solutions first instead of reaching first for sprays.
Sources: King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program
http://www.metrokc.gov/hazwaste/house/gardening.html
Seattle Public Utilities Natural Lawn Care
http://www.cityofseattle.net/util/lawncare/6steps.htm

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point. Put a few pans of beer in your garden. Slugs will belly up, fall in and drown.
B. Add one point. Ladybugs will make a meal of aphids
C. Add half a point. Gotcha! Native plants are great. But don't plant ocotillos here. They're Southwest natives.
D. Subtract one point. Only 3 to 4 pounds of fertilizer are recommended per 1,000 square feet, and leaving grass clippings on the lawn will supply at least a quarter of that amount. Medium green is the healthiest color. Overfertilizing will leave lawns prone to disease.

 

PAINTING


16. Do you measure wall surfaces to make sure you buy the right amount of paint?

A. All the time. Paint is expensive.
B. Sometimes. If I have leftover paint, I keep it for touch-ups, or give it away.
C. Never. I watch Home Improvement reruns, so I don't need to ask for help.

Answer Key

Buying the right amount of paint is the first step to avoiding paint waste. A rule of thumb is that one gallon will coat 300 to 400 square feet. The next step is to choose the right paint in order to minimize use of coatings and thinners that have high levels of hazardous ingredients and VOCs. Then, use up what you buy, recycle or give away the surplus, or, if necessary, dispose of the surplus properly.
Source: King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program
http://www.metrokc.gov/hazwaste/house/paint.html

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point. Hey, you're pretty smart.
B. Add half a point. Using up or giving away surplus paint is better than disposing of it, but it's best to buy the right amount in the first place.
C. Subtract one point. Ask for advice. You've heard the line about what assuming does.

 

TOTALS

13-16 points — Great work! You're the Dean of Green!
8-12 points — You're doing OK, but try to pick up the pace.
4-7 points — You're looking at a big PR problem.
0-3 points — Put yourself on the Superfund list for immediate remediation.

 

© 1999, Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center
phone: 206-352-2050, e-mail: office@pprc.org, web: www.pprc.org