Friday, January 28, 2011

When being "green" is just "mean"

Disclaimer: This post is meant as sarcasm and humor any offense generated is purely coincidental and the responsibility of the reader.

I am all for being a good steward of the resources you are given. Be they natural resources like coal, timber, water, or more ephemeral resources like money, time, and opportunity.   I like reusing things and getting the most out of something.  Of course that is mostly because I am cheap and not from some deeper altruistic need to save the planet.  I like creative solutions to everyday problems and finding ways to use what I have rather than buying something new.  Again mostly because I'm cheap and making the most of my money resource is a pretty big priority to me.  BUT, spending my 2nd most important resource, time, to figure out a way to replace something that is perfectly good and someone else already makes just because it isn't "green" is the definition of insanity to me.  And in some cases I think it's down right mean.

My first case in point is using fabric as reusable gift wrap.  While the idea has merit and can look really pretty, it takes ALL THE JOY our of RIPPING and TEARING open ones gifts!!  Because let's admit it, that is a HUGE part of the fun right?  Especially for kids!  Now I'm not saying you have to use brand new gift wrap paper for every single gift you give, even I'm too cheap for that.  But what you can do is get new tissue paper (it's pretty darn cheap if you stock up after Christmas on just the plain white!!) and reuse the gift bags you've received! You get to save on wrapping and still give the pleasure of ripping into the gift to your friends and loved ones! Of course this means you actually have to wrap the gift inside the bag in the tissue paper rather than just shoving tissue in on top of it, but I think this is a good compromise between brand new and that silly fabric idea!  And if you have a cat like my you are depriving her of her most treasured possession:

Mah paypers!!

Recently I've found another fantastic wonderful "green" idea that has taken a lot of joy out of my daily life.  Reusable lunch boxes.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE these amazing lunch box sets that my mom got the kids back in August.  What I HATE HATE HATE is that my 2nd grader CANNOT remember to bring his home.  I send it to school with him on Monday and I'm lucky if he remembers to bring it back by the following Friday.  So because it is the ONLY one we have and I don't have any brown paper bags he's back to eating that awful crap they serve in his elementary school cafeteria Tuesday through Friday.  I was seriously so stoked to start making lunch for the kids and get them eating better (especially after counting how many days in a month their main choice for lunch is CHICKEN! UGH! Another post completely!), but now all it has done is create a big source of stress for me and my son. So I'm pretty much sold on the idea of buying paper bags and zip top baggies for his lunch from now on. This way he can just throw it away and not be all worried about bringing home his lunch box. And I will get to see this smiling face rather than the sad disappointed in himself look he gives me when he's forgotten the box yet again:


And last but not least, all natural shampoo.  This one gets TWO GIANT THUMBS DOWN from me.  Most of my friends know that I fight a daily loosing battle with my hair. It is both fine and curly. Which makes for a wonderful frizzy mess in humid weather.  Oh and I live in a temperate rain-forest, so yeah humidity is pretty much par for the course here.  So trying to be more "healthy" and more "green" I switched to some hoity-toity all plant based, cruelty-free, organic such and such that was supposed to be better for the planet and nice to animals or some crap like that.  And my hair looked HORRIBLE! Talk about stealing my joy!!  I'm not a very vain person. Really I'm not, but the one thing I've learned in my nearly 38 years is that my hair is picky and if I don't treat it right I'll look like Gilda Radner from her Roseanne Roseannadanna days.  And trust me that is just mean, both to myself and those unfortunate souls who have to view such madness.


So folks in summary, I've learned that my life is by necessity one that I have to live in balance. Not going over board with the "green at all costs" mentality so many get caught up in and keeping in mind the real benefits to myself and my family of each choice we make. Yes it's important to be good stewards, and yes I believe that making healthier choices for ourselves and our world is a good idea. But I won't give up joy, no matter what new fangled idea the enviro-crazies come up with to make our world "greener". 

How about you? What "green" ideas do you find just silly?  What about ones that you were reluctant about in the beginning, but that over time have embraced?  Inquiring minds (well okay just me) want to know!


  1. My problem with the "organic" shampoo goes even more into the realm of vanity. The stuff stinks. 9 times out of 10 it smells like compost or old men. When my kids smell my hair they want pretty not grampa.

  2. Hee hee! Too funny!

    Not sure if this stuff is considered green, but I use the Alba shampoos. I, too, have had bad experiences with the frou frou greenie green shampoos... some of them are really, really bad. LOL But this stuff is magic.

  3. I have to agree with you. I believe in living in cooperation with Mother Earth. I believe in being good stewards. But part of that good stewardship is balancing my sanity, my budget and my house.

    I can't afford all natural and organic cleaning supplies all the time. The ones I have and vinegar work just fine. Organic or recycled toilet paper would put me in the poor house with how much we go through between 3 bathrooms, 6 people and how often we have people over. (That was an eye opener when I started collecting the rolls two weeks ago for a craft for the party this weekend.) Organic food is hit or miss for me. It's expensive in the stores and I don't trust all the 'organic' labeling because it's become a fad. Sadly, I don't have the resources here like I did in Oregon to actually go to the farms and stuff.

    I love how the new light bulbs are supposed to be green and slowly everyone is being forced to use them. Yet now we've found that when they break, they are poisonous and kill us.

    I read an article about how batteries are made for Prius'. The production of those actually do more damage to the earth then a fossil fuel car!!

    While I would love to garden and learn how, I don't have the place for it right now. If we were to buy property in Oregon, I'd open it up for a huge community garden between friends. But I am a far better facilitator then doer in that regard, LOL!

    Recycling in Nevada is a joke and they make it a complete pain in the ass in Oregon.

    I have no problem with decisions people make for their families. You gotta do what you feel is best for your family. But don't judge me for not doing the same thing! Environmentalism has become the new 'cult'. People champion these causes without looking at the whole picture. That's great that you want to XYZ, but you don't see that it affects a myriad of other things in many other ways. This earth is a very complex system. We need to live responsibly and in communion with our earth and resources and that we do affect our surroundings to an extent. But believe me, Mother Earth has been doing this for much longer and will correct herself regardless of us humans. We'll just be along for the ride like fleas on a dog when she does.

  4. My two cents: you'll buy 1 battery in a Prius's lifetime (and hardly any gas), whereas we've bought 6 batteries for our small truck over its lifetime so far, and have to fill it with gas every week. That's far worse for the environment, so i'm glad we have the Prius as well.

    I think recycling in Oregon has finally gotten less complicated and quite "user-friendly" now that they've gotten rid of so many confusing restrictions.

    I like the fabric scraps as wrapping paper idea, but before you label me as one of the "enviro-crazies" keep in mind that i balance it all out by using disposable diapers, lol!

    I really wanted to cut down on the amount of ziplock baggies we use (portland rated highest in nation for use of ziplocks, even though we rated the best on essentially every other environmental cause). However, I've yet to find an alternative I like, so we continue to use them. But we do wash them out and re-use them if they only had things like crackers in them.

    I agree, Nichol, about doing something that makes you feel good (re: your shampoo). Sometimes trying to be "good" so hard can be so frustrating and sometimes we need a boost for ourselves and not feel guilty about it. For me, it's 2 pedicures a year. It's not a lot so i feel okay about it. And if i can ever find a salon that uses "green" nail products, then i'll give them my business. Until then, I need my twice a year "feel-good" boost!

  5. The most annoying thing to me about being green, is how I feel such a distrust of everything and everybody. I don't know who to trust. Everyone has an ulterior motive. Everyone is lying for monetary reasons. It makes me paranoid, and then I end up not being as good of a steward of my earthly home as I probably should be.

    It is funny the difference between folks in OR and folks here in Missouri. The few times we went to Walmart in Oregon, many people brought their own bags, and the cashiers always over packed the plastic bags and they would split and break. Here, they literally put one or two small items in a bag, and I always end up with a gazillion bags.

    In Oregon I feel barely pastel green. Here, I feel deep emerald green. :)

  6. Hahaha!! Well said everyone!
    @Sandy I agree with you! Most of the stuff in the "au natural" aisle makes you smell a bit too "au natural" for my tastes.
    @Hedy Yes, I do like Alba, but I've not had the $$ to go there in a while.
    @Nicki you know we've had this covno many times! And the light bulb thing is a great one that you bring up!! OMG that is a such a total fail from a "green" perspective. Great for saving money on energy, but terrible for the environment. Not to mention the fact that the quality of light they produce sucks.
    @Hannah I completely understand what you mean! I'm from the Midwest too and it's the same when I go home. People look at me like I'm some sort of hippy freak, and here I'm an uneducated heathen.

  7. @LL Zenana Day Spa uses great products and they are owned by some awesome folks who support the birthing community here in Portland.
    I'm with you on zip locks, although I don't wash them out if I've used any raw meat, tomato products, or greasy food in them. That's just too much work for me and is kind of gross.
    As for the Prius the new ones have batteries that last longer. The first ones that were made only lasted 5-10 years (barely enough time to pay of the loan for the car!) But it's not just the disposal it's the actual process of how the battery is made that is a fail for the environment. It's similar to the CFL bulbs. I would still be all for it as a commuter vehicle from a saving money on gas perspective if they weren't so tiny!! (remember I'm cheap!) LOL