Trust Me, We’re Not As Green As You Think We Are.


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It’s easy for some of us to sit up on a throne and dictate all things green, but make no mistake about it – most of us are not so green as to think we are better than anyone else who is trying their best. (Save for No Impact Man, who may actually be the greenest person I know.) I get emails asking how I live so “green” all the time, and while I feel bad bursting their bubble, I have to tell the truth – I don’t and I can’t. I don’t live near as green a lifestyle as someone living in an off-the-grid house or someone who grows their own food; it’s just not a possibility for me at this point in my life. Maybe someday, but not today. And most everyone else who does the “green” thing for a living isn’t perfect either. As for my habits, well, chances are that I am just like most everyone else:

– I drive a non-hybrid car like most people
– I am a big car buff/nerd, and if only I had the money to buy what I wanted…
– I eat meat
– I buy my food at a grocery store, and some of it is NOT organic
– I forget my reusable mug and reusable bags sometimes
– My jeans are from the Gap, not some eco-friendly boutique where jeans cost $200
– I like electronic gadgets. A lot.
– I always have a roll of paper towels in my house
– I eat fast food from time to time (GASP!)
– I shop at Target, a big box store.

I try very hard to be as eco-conscious as I can be, but I don’t always succeed – and neither does any other environmental writer or commentator. We all have our vices, our slip-ups, our wants in life that supercede our environmental concerns. Some fly around the globe to check out “green” stuff, some smoke while talking about better eating habits, and others work for “non-green” companies at their day jobs. So when you start feeling like you aren’t doing enough or you cannot keep up with what you “should” be doing for the health of our planet and our people, keep this post in mind – we are doing the best we can, and we are always striving to do more, but we are not perfect. No one is.

All we ask is that you try your best too.

Photo from Shutterstock

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  1. Thanks for writing this David.

    As an eco-blogger I worry that people might think I do all the stuff I write about.

    Like you, I shop at Target. I do try to buy for my needs though rather than my wants. I drive a non-hybrid, but I try to drive as few miles as possible. I buy non-local organic veggies and fruit from the closest grocery, but I also subscribe to a CSA, eat no more than 4oz of meat a day, and get my meat direct from a farm rather than a feedlot. And I use electricity to dry laundry, but I also air-dry laundry as much as I can.

    I’m not perfect, but in the words of one of my favorite bloggers, I’m working to be a Little Greener Every Day.

  2. We’ve had this conversation before. No one is 100% green. It’s not possible, unless maybe you are homeless, living on the street, by choice or not. I don’t know. I have to look into that more.

    As long as the collective ‘you’ is doing something, that is helpful. All the little actions add up to a big action. Imagine if no one was doing anything, nothing would be improving.

  3. Thanks for saying this. I think that there are plenty of people who are put off by the holier-than-thou attitude some proponents of “green” exude without even meaning to. No one likes to feel judged or compared with a standard they have no hope of meeting.

    I can’t afford to pay the fee to use the recycling center in our community.

  4. I feel like I am less green living in London than I was in Northern California. The title of my next post will be “From Pure Mother to Compromising Mum”! Who can be a locavore here? At least I walk more now, but our washing machine takes 2 hours to do a load and the dryer takes 3-4! So I line dry some, but in the house b.c it’s raining all the time! So I am sucking some energy now.
    But, dude, you live in New Mexico. Next time you’re in Home Depot pick up a big bag of rags (or find some old t-shirts at home) and ditch the paper towels. You’ve got good weather to line dry rags after washing.
    I only keep a couple of rolls that last a long time and only use them for cleaning up my cat’s hair balls and really gross stuff I don’t want in my washing machine. πŸ™‚
    It was easier to cut back on paper towels than I thought. Have you tried?

  5. Thank you for this! I feel really guilty sometimes bc I don’t live as lightly as I wish to. You’re so right…it’s about trying to be your very best self. It’s nice to be reminded of that.

  6. I just scored Edun jeans for 40$ and my old pair I bought at 50$. They do go on sale :).

    Honesty is better than those people who jump on the trend and shop at Whole Foods cos it’s trendy and can’t dream of shopping elsewhere. Thanks for educating us!

  7. Great post for so many reasons. If everyone just lived a little greener but helped educate others, the world would would greatly change quickly.

  8. Great post, sir. A lot of folks get scared by people and organizations (such as PETA, in-your-face militant environmentalists, etc.) that try to manhandle them into being green, not eating meat, etc.

    A better, more positive difference can be made by encouraging people to do what they can, not yelling at them, and perhaps put just a little more effort when and where they can.

  9. I love this post. It’s refreshing to hear such honesty!
    There is nothing worse than someone making you feel that your own efforts to living a greener lifestyle are inadequate. It”ℒs all the small things that collectively make a difference.

  10. The only way to be “green” is to be dead and had an eco-friendly burial.

    I don’t like holier-than-thou, militant, and fundamentalist types when it comes to anything including living a green lifestyle.

    I too drive a car every now and then, shop at grocery stores (mostly Whole Foods and New Seasons), eat meat (never factory farmed) and a few other sins that should land me in PITA hell.

    We all need to make sure we are doing the best we can. Just as another poster stated: baby steps.

  11. Thank you for sharing this. Honesty goes such a long way in helping the cause. If you are honest & someone sees an area you haven’t yet addressed, it won’t ruin their faith in the possibility of improving/living more responsibly.

  12. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has nothing to do with shopping at grocery stores or driving a car. They support alternatives to animal testing and promote vegetarianism -or veganism – which are greener alternatives to meat-eating. Just switching from factory farmed (cruel) meat to organic, free-range is a kinder alternative. Peta is only in your face (in my opinion) when it comes to wearing fur and lab testing on animals- and I am with them on those!

    1. PETA has everything to do with “doing the right thing”, and I am with Noah on this – I pay NO attention to them because of their ridiculous behavior. I used to be against Greenpeace for the same reason, but they finally realized that being obnoxious doesn’t help the movement at all. And regarding your earlier comment, dude, I live in Colorado and I have a single roll of paper towels in the house to take care of my sick cat.

  13. Whoa. I just shared my experience of and opinion about PETA. You and Noah may have your own experiences. And your ABOUT page has a photo of you labeled Taos, NM, so I thought you lived there. I use paper towels for the same reason you do, if you didn’t fully read my post.

  14. David- you set a great example for us with your honesty! Doing nothing is no longer acceptable, everyone can do something…but it will be a long journey toward a truly greener society.

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