The Official PPRC P2 Quiz: Episode 2, The Pollution Menace at Home

Yes, we know ... The title of our newest quiz is a hoky parody of the latest Star Wars movie. But we always think of the P2 angle. Why consume neural energy making up a new title when you can remanufacture an existing one?

OK, hereís the deal: Like last yearís edition, P2 Quiz Ď99 tests what you do and how much you know about pollution prevention in your daily living. But wait! Not only do we have questions about P2 stuff around the house (below), but weíve added a section about P2 at your workplace. You can take either or both sections of the quiz. The format is the same: click on the button next to your answer for each question.

As for scoring, you better get it right the first time because the quiz will only tally your first answer for each question. If you decide to change your answer, the computer won't count it. To allow the computer to count all your answers, complete all the questions before exploring the outside links to related web sites. If you decide to start over, hit the refresh button on your browser and you'll get a clean slate. You get a full point for a great answer, half a point for an OK one, no points for a so-so answer, and a one-point deduction for answers with little or no redeeming environmental value. There might be a few trick questions scattered around the quiz. Above all, we hope the quiz is a fun way to learn about pollution prevention. Letís go!


Prelude: The Giveaway Question

Because weíre so Northwest nice, weíll get you started with a cream puff question. Youíll have to go out of your way to blow this one.

brain1. What Is Pollution Prevention?

Turning off your TV set.
Pollution controls such as catalytic converters.
Changing habits to avoid creating waste in the first place.
Buying products labeled ďenvironmentally friendly.Ē

Answer Key

     Remember the old saying, ďan ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?Ē Pollution prevention, or ďP2,Ē means avoiding creation of pollution at the source. Itís a proactive way to protect the environment. If you donít create waste and pollution in the first place, there is no waste and pollution to deal with afterwards, we can live healthier lives, and take better care of natural resources. Prevention has economic benefits too, because it gets at the inefficiencies that are the root causes of waste and pollution.
     Source: PPRC (thatís us)

Which answer did you select?

A. Add half a point. We donít work the cultural pollution side of the street, but we can tell you that turning off the TV for one year will save $7-$17 worth of electricity (assuming Northwest rates).
B. No points. Controls deal with pollution after itís been created. P2 means donít create pollution in the first place. Itís an important distinction.
C. Add one point. The three Rís: rethink, reduce, reuse.
D. No points. Be wary of vague, feel-good labels that donít say much. Eco-labels can provide useful information to help you make good purchasing decisions, but itís important to be informed about who issues product labels and what standards they use to back up their labels.


That Warm, Fuzzy Feeling


2. Do You Plan a Windows Upgrade at Your House?

We are a Mac household, thank you very much.
No, we can see fine outside the windows we have.
At some point, weíd like to install double paned windows.
Look! Up on my wall! Itís Superwindow from the planet Krypton!

Answer Key

     Your house works as a system, so itís important to think of the spinoff effects of building component choices. If you install inefficient windows that let a lot of heat escape, you can expect to pay higher utility bills. Todayís efficient windows use extra glazing, special coatings and fill gases to prevent expensive heat loss and uncomfortable drafts. If youíre planning to replace windows, think of the savings on your electric or gas bill that efficient windows can bring. For example, a 2,000-square-foot Seattle home would cut its winter heating bill more than a third by replacing 300 square feet of single-pane windows with double-glazed ďlow-EĒ windows. In a gas-heated home, that would save roughly 24,000 cubic feet of gas a year and avoid the environmental impacts of producing, processing, transporting and burning it. Efficient windows may be more expensive up front, but theyíre a better buy over the long run when you consider energy savings.
     Tips: When shopping for windows, note the ďU factorĒ on the label. That tells you how well the window prevents heat loss. Itís like a golf score: the lower the number, the better. Youíll also want to note the solar heat gain rating and how well it brings in visible light. In inland areas where summer cooling is desired, consider windows that prevent unwanted heat gain. If youíre not in the market for new windows, caulk and weatherstrip windows to prevent heat loss.
     Sources: Efficient Windows
     Rocky Mountain Institute Home Energy Brief

Which answer did you select?
A. No points. Thatís nice. We hope itís an Energy Star computer. Now pay closer attention.
B. No points. You may not like what you see on your winter utility bill.
C. Add one point. Having that extra glass pane can cut heat loss by more than half.
D. Add one point. Superwindows are super performers in very cold climates because of their exceptional insulation value. Superwindows hold heat in so well, they may allow you to get by with a smaller furnace than youíd need with conventional windows. (And there really is such a thing as krypton. Itís a gas used in high performance windows to keep the heat at home rather than let it go up, up and away.)


duct 3. Whatís a Good Way to Improve Heating Duct Performance?
Clean them regularly.
Tape some old T-shirts around the joints to prevent heat loss.
Who cares? If they leak, just crank up the thermostat.
Seal and insulate them.

Answer Key

     Heating ducts are usually out of sight and out of mind. But you donít want to ignore the money they can cost you. Leaky ducts can reduce the efficiency of your heating system by 20 to 40 percent, and result in cold outside air being pulled into your house. In addition to wasting energy, leaky ducts put more wear and tear on your furnace by forcing it to work harder, and could even result in combustion safety hazards.
     Tips: Before insulating your ducts, seal joints, seams and connections in supply and return ducts with water-based mastic and/or tape. If your house uses building cavities as ducts, seal those first, because they draw in a lot of outside air. Be sure to check for backdrafting problems before, during and after sealing. Consider using a licensed, insured contractor for sealing and insulation.
     Source: The Energy Outlet

Which answer did you select?
A. No points. Cleaning that is done properly may improve your homeís indoor environment, but first get some advice to determine whether itís necessary. See EPAís guide to duct cleaning at
B. No points. Nice try, but if you canít do a home maintenance project right, hire someone who can.
C. Subtract one point. Not smart. Leaky ducts can result in unhealthy particles, dusts or gases being drawn into your house.
D. Add one point. Everything will be just duct-y.


Applied Knowledge

4. Do You Vacuum Your Refrigerator?
I like a clean house, but isnít that a little obsessive?
Our kids do. You should see how fast they can suck ice cream out of the freezer.
Iíd like to, but what if someone sees me and makes fun of what Iím doing?
Yes. It sounds goofy, but itís good for the refrigerator.

Answer Key

     Your refrigerator accounts for about 15 percent of your household electricity budget. The condenser coils serve to dissipate heat from the refrigerant, the gas that removes heat from inside your refrigerator. When dust and grime collect on the coils, they canít work as efficiently, so your refrigerator has to work a little harder to get your food cold.
     Tips: Vacuum or wipe dust off the coils every few months. Keep your refrigerator away from heat sources. When your refrigerator is about to give up the ghost, replace it with an Energy Star model ( Youíll have your new refrigerator for a long time, so a more efficient unit is a better buy in the long run.
     Sources: California Energy Commission
     Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network

Which answer did you select?

A. No points.
B. No points. Make sure they donít leave the freezer door ajar after their ice cream raids.
C. Add half a point. Tell the busybodies youíre removing microscopic mind-reading devices installed by agents of a global conspiracy. In nine out of 10 cases, that should get them to walk quickly away and leave you alone.
D. Add one point. Good job. You can skip the white glove test.


5. Does Your TV Leak?

Excuse me, you meant to ask about the toilet, right? No, it doesnít, I replaced the flush valve after I took last yearís quiz and found a leak. May I have my one point now?
Yes, it opens a hole in my checking account when the cable bill arrives.
You mean there are TVís that run on water? Arenít you P2 people going too far pushing water-based materials?
Yes. When itís time to get a new TV, weíll get an efficient model that reduces ďleakage.Ē

Answer Key

     Believe it or not, many electric appliances around your house ďleakĒ electricity, even when they are switched off. Examples include televisions, VCRs, and telephone answering machines. The term ďleakingĒ actually refers to standby power losses. Whatís happening is that certain components serve standby functions that need power. For example, a TV that can be switched on by remote control needs a continuously available sensor operated by a power supply. Nationwide, leaking electricity accounts for about 7 percent of U.S. residential power consumption and costs U.S. households $4 billion annually. ďLeakingĒ can be reduced by improved component design.
     Tip: The Energy Star home electronics program ( helps consumers find TVís, VCRs, audio equipment and DVD players with reduced standby power losses.
     Source: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Leaking Electricity Page

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point. We werenít talking toilets (see below), but since you fixed the leak, you can have your point.
B. No points.
C. No points. No, TVís donít run on water, but in the very early years of television, there were mechanical TVís that used motor-driven rotating discs to bring in the picture. They never caught on because of poor image quality. Just thought youíd be interested.
D. Add one point.


Water, Water is Not Everywhere

6. How Should You Shop for a New Toilet?

Theyíre all the same. Buy a cheap one at a big box store.
Save water. Get a composting toilet.
Do some research. Talk to plumbers and read up on toilet performance in consumer magazines or on the web.
Make sure the color will match your towels.

Answer Key

     Inefficient toilets are the leading source of household water consumption indoors, accounting for about one-fourth of usage. New toilets are required by federal law to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. Low flow toilets have been a loo loo of a controversy because of complaints about performance, such as having to double flush. However, there are many variables that affect toilet performance, including user habits and installation. In recent years, manufacturers have come out with improved designs that correct problems reported in early low flow models. Finding a well performing low flow model that, ahem, fits your needs will return water cost savings, help defer water and sewer system capacity expansions that show up on your bill, and help conserve water for people, salmon and other living things.
     Tips: A toilet is a major appliance, so shop around. As with any consumer purchase, you want to find a product that works for you and avoid those which donít. Ask plumbers for their recommendations. A Northwest plumber has put his recommendations on the web at Read up on new developments in toilet technology in magazines such as Consumer Reports.
     Sources: City of Austin: FAQís About Low-Flow Toilets
     Water Efficiency: Shopping for a Good Toilet or Showerhead

Which answer did you select?

A. No points. No, theyíre not all the same. Ask around to identify the best performing models.
B. Add one point. A composting toilet can be a practical alternative for waterless disposal of human waste, especially in remote locations lacking sewer service. Shop carefully to find the model that suits your needs and is appropriate for your climate.
C. Add one point.
D. No points. Not our department. Check with Martha Stewart.


7. Whatís a Good Way to Reduce Water Use in the Shower?

Give yourself a five-minute time limit.
Pound on the bathroom door and warn your teen-agers that the water bill is coming out of their allowance.
Install a low flow showerhead.
Take a bath instead.

Answer Key

     Showers can account for 18 to 20 percent of home water use indoors and more than a third of home hot water consumption. Federal law requires new showerheads to use no more than 2.5 gallons per minute, twice or more as efficient as older showerheads.
     Tips: Low flow showerheads can pay for themselves in as little as four months through water and energy bill savings. A top quality, low flow showerhead is designed to deliver a strong, satisfying spray. Consider installing a showerhead with a filter that removes chlorine.
     Sources: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network
     Rocky Mountain Institute Home Energy Brief

Which answer did you select?

A. Add half a point. Thatís a start. But with an inefficient showerhead, youíre still using more hot water than you need to.
B. Add half a point. Money doesnít just talk. It speaks volumes.
C. Add one point.
D. No points. It depends on your habits. A bath that consumes 30 to 50 gallons might be more frugal if youíre in the habit of taking really long showers with an inefficient showerhead. With an efficient showerhead, a bath will likely use more hot water.


Getting Around

8. Do You Consider Fuel Mileage When Shopping for a Car?

Never. I have a constitutional right to use unlimited quantities of cheap gas.
Sometimes, after we choose the color and CD player options.

Answer Key

     Transportation accounts for 30 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions arising from fossil fuel combustion, and two-thirds of that amount comes from burning gasoline. In Washington, motor vehicles account for more than half of unhealthy pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and low-level ozone smog, that dirties air in our cities. Average fuel economy for passengers vehicles is at its lowest point since 1980, because larger, heavier vehicles have become more popular.
     Tips: To find a guide to clean, fuel-efficient cars, visit the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy at And in the next few years, keep your eye out for alternative fuel vehicles in dealer showrooms.
     Sources: EPA Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions
     Washington State Air Quality Annual Report

Which answer did you select?

A. Subtract one point. Thatís not in the Constitution. You can look it up.
B. No points.
C. Add one point.
D. Add one point.


9. Which of the Following Transportation Modes Would You Most Likely Take to a Destination One Mile Away (Assuming All Are Available): Walking, Bicycle, Bus, or Car?

Walking is healthy exercise.
Biking is the only way to ride.
Drive. I have to think of my image, you know.
My bus is bigger than your SUV.

Answer Key

     By walking or bicycling instead of driving for short trips, you avoid the high quantities of pollution your car emits during the first mile of operation. Bicycling is the most energy-efficient transportation mode around. A bus emits less carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and reactive hydrocarbons than your typical single-occupancy vehicle (measured in grams per passenger-mile.)
     Tips: Walk or ride a bicycle for short trips. If you must drive, combine errands into one trip. Consider joining a car sharing service if one is available in your area. (Find out more about car sharing at
     Sources: ďStuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday ThingsĒ
     Northwest Environment Watch
     American Public Transit Association
     California Air Resources Board

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point. Walking reduces blood pressure. Driving increases it.
B. Add one point. Keep on re-cycling. Donít forget your helmet.
C. Subtract one point. You watch too many TV car commercials.
D. Add one point. And you donít have to park it either.


That Big Project You've Been Talking About

10. How Can You Minimize Impacts of Your Home Construction or Improvement Project on Natural Forests?

Make like the first little pig and build it out of straw.
Buy certified wood.
Use a different ďframeĒ of reference.
Consider using recycled plastic products for non-load bearing applications such as deck planking.

Answer Key

     Home construction and improvement projects can require large quantities of wood and generate large amounts of waste, especially with todayís larger homes. A typical 2,085-square-foot home contains more than 13,000 board-feet of framing lumber, roughly equivalent to the amount of wood found in 14 logs 25 feet long and two feet wide.
     Tips: If youíre building a home, the Residential Construction Waste Management Guide can help you reduce construction waste and landfill tip fees. Available for $12 at
     Sources: National Association of Home Builders
     Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development
     City of Austin Green Building

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point. No kidding. If the first little pig had built his straw house right, the big bad wolf would have been left huffing and puffing to no end. Read about straw-based construction materials in Environmental Building News at
B. Add one point. Certified wood is lumber that has originated in a forest managed in accordance with sustained yield, habitat protection, soil conservation, watershed management, and other environmental standards. To find certified wood products, visit WoodWise at
C. Add one point. Conventional stud and joist spacing is 16 inches on center. With advanced framing, you can spread spacing out to 24 inches and thereby reduce wood use. Find out more about advanced framing from the National Association of Home Builders Research Center:
D. Add one point. Find out more about plastic lumber products from King County:


Greening Your Garden

11. Which of the Following Lawn and Garden Practices Will Help Salmon?

Use a soaker hose to water your vegetable garden.
Control crane fly larvae with diazinon.
Apply fertilizer just before it rains, to help it soak into the soil.
When applying used motor oil for weed control, make sure none of it spills into a storm drain.

Answer Key

     Salmon runs are declining across the Northwest. One of the causes is poor water quality. In urban areas, pavement increases storm runoff. Stormwater, whether flowing overland or into storm drains, is a conveyance mechanism that carries pollutants directly into streams. Lawn and garden chemicals that are toxic to fish and fertilizer nutrients that encourage oxygen-depleting algae growth are examples of such pollutants. Another problem is water temperature. Pavement prevents storms from replenishing groundwater that feeds streams. Add that to inefficient water use and you get streams diminishing to a trickle in summer, when flows are naturally low anyway. The result is water temperature rising to levels unhealthy or even lethal for cold water fish like salmon.
     Tips: You can cut back on water, fertilizer and chemical use by building up healthy soils and planting vegetation native to your area. Minimize or eliminate toxic pest controls. Water infrequently, but deeply near the root zone. Consider downsizing your lawn. If you live along a fish-bearing stream, keep the stream bank well vegetated, to prevent erosion and to cool the water.
     Source: King County Salmon Conservation and Recovery

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point. Soaker hoses keep plants healthy by directing water to the root zone. Plus, they can save up to 70 percent on water consumption compared to overhead sprinkling.
B. Subtract one point. Diazinon is a powerful synthetic insecticide commonly used to control crane fly larvae on lawns. It is toxic to birds, which feed on crane fly larvae. Diazinon running off yards has been found in Puget Sound area streams at levels that exceed standards for protecting aquatic life. Parasitic nematodes are an alternative crane fly larvae control method.
C. Subtract one point. Never apply fertilizer before or during a rainstorm. The stuff will run right off your lawn and find its way to a stream.
D. Subtract one point. Used oil is full of toxic contaminants. Never pour motor oil onto the ground, into a storm drain or anywhere else except into a recycling container. Many auto parts stores will accept your used motor oil for recycling at no charge. Make sure your car isnít dripping oil; stormwater will carry it into streams.


Cleanliness Counts

12. Which of the Following Alternative Cleaning Formulas Have You Used?

Boiling water to prevent clogged drains.
Vinegar and water to clean windows.
Cold cream and shortening to remove lipstick stains.
Soy sauce to remove fruit juice stains.

Answer Key

     Many commercial household cleaners and stain removers contain hazardous ingredients that are corrosive, flammable, dangerously reactive, or can cause health problems such as respiratory irritation. Examples of such ingredients are acids and lye, chlorine, ammonia, petroleum distillates, solvents, and silica particles. In some cases, such as glass cleaners, Consumer Reports has found that many commercial products donít work all that well anyway.
     Tip: For general purpose cleaning, less-toxic or non-toxic substitutes are available. Among them are baking soda, vinegar, club soda, lemon juice, and soaps. You can even make your own soaps at home for cleaning and laundry.
     Sources: King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program
     Toronto Household Hazardous Waste Program

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point. If you have a clog, try a plunger, snake or hose-end bladder instead of reaching for hazardous chemicals.
B. Add one point. Another alternative is lemon juice and water.
C. Add one point.
D. No points. For fruit juice stains, boiling water and lemon juice should do the trick. Save the soy sauce for teriyaki dishes.



9-12 points — Great work! You're a Dean of Green!
5-8 points — Not bad, but it's time to break out of the pack.
0-4 points — Can we talk?


Try the P2 at work quiz!


© 1999, Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center
phone: 206-352-2050, e-mail:, web: