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The Truth About What I Don’t Do

I had another post in mind for today, but as soon as I read Tsh’s post on Simple Mom this week about imperfection, I knew I wanted to the address the issue over here as well.

Just like on Pinterest, where it’s easy to get caught up in all the inspring things we pin to our To-Do boards, I feel like we can get carried away with our dreams for more natural living.

But let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t feel like making green choices. Sometimes we get tired of it, or sometimes the cost is too great– whether in terms of time, money, effort or availability. We’re not perfect, and it’s time to embrace that.

One of the best things about the blogosphere is its ability to encourage. I love what Tsh said,

In large part because of the Internet, women are slowly chipping away at the lie that we need to be perfect. We more or less believe we don’t have to work full-time and have a spotless house and have children that never argue and don a cookie-filled plate in a moment’s notice.

Or over here on our blog, we might say something about how we are finding out that it’s okay to take baby steps instead of giant leaps on our natural living journey. That every little change we make does make a difference and that we don’t need to give up just because we can’t (or don’t want to) do it all.

Green Imperfection

So for the record, here’s a list of (some of) the things I don’t do in the realm of “green living.” I’d love to hear what you don’t do in the comments!

  • I don’t have a garden.
  • I don’t cloth diaper my toddler.
  • I don’t make everything from scratch that I could despite some great recipes that I at one time employed regularly.
  • I don’t drive a hybrid, or heck, even a fuel-efficient car!
  • I watch TV pretty regularly at night.
  • I don’t eat grass-fed beef.

I hope to have a garden of some kind next year. I used to cloth diaper my son but when the baby came along, I decided one was enough, and besides, breast milk poop is much easier to deal with. I would love to buy exclusively grass-fed beef, but it’s not readily available/affordable where I live.

This where I’m at in this season, and you know what? I’m okay with it! 

Let’s hear from you now, readers, if you so desire to share.

From Tsh:

Let this be a freeing exercise, if you choose to participate. Do it for fun and for encouragement, and not to feel guiltier. Share simply out of a desire to encourage other women, and perhaps to lessen a bit of your burden today. You already know what’s on your list. You can simply choose to etch it out with your fingers.

It really is freeing to list out the things you don’t do. If you feel so inspired, share your list in the comments. I know I’d be encouraged to read what you don’t do, and I’m sure other readers will as well.

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Kim

    I watch tv, I dont drive a hybrid, I dont have a garden or do any composting… list could go on. I do, however, eat grass fed beef but only because I found a semi-local farmer who sells it for less than the regular stuff at the grocery store. I will tell you this. It is worth every penny!!! I would pay more for it if I had to. But, I know not everyone is that fortunate.

  2. brie

    i don’t always walk to work. i don’t floss everyday. i don’t buy organic food all the time. i don’t recycle everything that could be. i’m not always eco-friendly in my cleaning purchases. but all of this is ok. burden is lighter – you’re right!

  3. Bernadette

    I recently got “beaten up” in another discussion thread elsewhere over refusing to eliminate “phantom/vampire energy” stealing throughout the house. The start of a new day is always hectic and the thought of repowering everything every morning (computers, TVs, networks, DVD players, etc) just seemed way too impractical! Ok, so i disconnect my coffeemaker everyday now because it has a clock and preprogrammer that I don’t even use and that’s simple. But quite frankly, all the outlets in the house (even with power strips) are not easily accessible! Most are behind furniture. Bah!

    I love to do all I can to be green, but I have a life!

    Thanks for letting me rant, lol.

  4. Katie Mae

    Thank you for this post! I’ve been having trouble fitting everything into my days (I don’t even have kids, but my job is pretty busy and my husband just started a business and we have a new house) and feeling guilty every time I buy food instead of cooking, take the car instead of biking, or turn the heat up when I haven’t stopped all the drafts yet. It is so reassuring to be reminded that everyone has trouble balancing it all.

  5. Lucy

    @ Bernadette — I’m sorry that you got flamed for not being a 100% super perfect person! We all can only do so much. And honestly, vampire energy is not the world’s largest problem, you know? Sure, it’d be great to eliminate, but no one should be harassing others over it, IMO.

  6. Alison

    Ahhh thank you. I can’t honestly remember what it was about a few days ago but i just thought to heck with it! I don’t feel like being environmentally responisble this time! It’s nice to know even those who inspire us are normal too.

    On that note, i love a hot shower, i let the kids get a tonne of halloween candy (which i will have to deal with), i love to keep up with the latest tech phone or computer…. I know there is more…

  7. Lucy

    I’m not sure I feel freed by thinking about what i don’t do….but maybe writing out the list will help me get to that mindset! I haven’t eliminated chlorine bleach; i don’t carpool everyday when i can; i don’t have a plastic-free kitchen; i don’t use only natural cleaners; i haven’t greened my makeup/beauty routine; i don’t buy local meat (this one worries me more than most other items, due to animal treatment concerns). That’s not the whole list by ANY means. I could go on for pages! Thanks for this post reminding us that we can’t do it all.

  8. Elizabeth E.

    I have been suffering from some serious green-fatigue lately, so thank you. It helps me to let go of the guilt over the things I don’t do if I remind myself of the things I do do.

    Things I don’t do:
    I don’t drive a hybrid car (or even fuel efficient)
    I don’t have a vegetable garden
    I don’t buy all organic foods/products
    I don’t use cloth diapers
    I don’t unplug everything at night
    I reuse plastic take-out food containers for food storage
    I don’t do all my shopping at farmer’s markets/co-ops/CSAs
    I use traditional shampoo/deodorant/soap

    Things I do do:
    I buy mostly organic
    I buy fresh fruits and vegetables only in their seasons
    I shop at farmer’s markets as much as I can
    I don’t subscribe to paper made magazines or newspapers
    I recycle every thing I can
    I buy products with the smallest amount of packaging possible
    I buy only what I need or will use
    I swap children’s clothing with friends and only buy new if there are gaps
    I take care of my things so that I don’t have to replace items frequently
    I gave up non-stick pots and pans
    I am transitioning to only glass jars for food storage
    We do non-chemical and organic lawn care
    I keep the heat low in the winter and only on when needed
    I keep the air conditioning off during the summer unless someone is home

    I like to mention the things I’m doing to remind myself that although I’m not perfect, I am trying and that I am succeeding in making my, and my family’s, eco-footprint smaller. At the same time I think it’s also important to remember that there are a lot of things we do everyday and don’t even think about that are helpful to our planet and we need to give ourselves credit for those small things too. It’s nice to let ourselves off the hook AND pat ourselves on the back once in a while!

    Great post, and a great reminder! Thank you!

  9. Liz

    Love this thread!!

    Things I don’t do:

    1) Take long, hot showers
    2) Buy (locally made) bread in plastic bags
    3) Don’t have a garden
    4) Don’t unplug all of my appliances
    5) Don’t bring my own take home containers to restaurants

    I’m sure there are more, I just can’t think of them right now. We can’t be perfect or we have nothing to work towards!

  10. Maria Bardet

    Thank you for this post! I don’t make my own house cleaning products or haven’t put the time into finding good brands. I also haven’t made the switch from paper towels and use way too many out of convenience. I decided to go vegan about a year ago, but I still eat fish. Very rarely, but I do. The list can go on and on! It’s encouraging to know that we all struggle with our daily to-do lists and often feel overwhelmed. This post really is inspiring and makes me appreciate the fact although we are not perfect, all the little changes we make every day, go a long way.

  11. Tiffany

    My biggest offender is probably that I drive a big SUV. It’s not fuel efficient at all. But it allows me to drive all over the state with husband and 2 kids, packed full of skis, bikes, boats and camping gear exploring the great outdoors. And frankly, that’s worth it to me.

  12. Breanne

    My husband and I were just having a conversation about this very topic last night. And I actually wrote a bit on my blog after being inspired and refreshed by what Tsh wrote….

    I don’t cloth diaper my toddler just my baby.
    I like to order in pizza and eat it. On the floor. After my littles are in bed.
    I burn regular candles because the soy/beeswax ones are too expensive.
    I like driving my van rather then walking, it just seems easier sometimes.
    I don’t like drinking raw milk though I give it to my toddler and use it in baking.

    It’s all about baby steps and finding the balance, isn’t it?

  13. Sarah

    hey nicole-

    i think you live in san diego if i remember correctly… if so, if there is a sprouts/henry’s farmer’s market near you, they have grass-fed ground beef on sale for $3.99 or $4.99/lb every few months. i literally buy 20-30lbs every time they do and freeze it. otherwise, there is no way we could afford grass fed beef!

    anyways, there are plenty of non-green/crunchy things i do. recently organic has not been in the budget, so we have been doing almost exclusively conventional produce and dairy (and eating up our stock of frozen organic meat). bummer! but that’s life.

  14. Successful Woman's Resource Center

    I don’t drive an energy efficient car, however, we don’t drive new cars and drive them til they fall apart.
    I tried to garden this year, but my tomatoes didn’t decide to really start producing until about 2 weeks before the first frost!
    I don’t compost.
    I don’t recycle ALL that could be recycled.
    I still use paper products in my house.
    I don’t buy all organic although this year we made more of an attempt.
    I don’t buy only grass-fed beef. I love it, but it is expensive. We have cut a lot of the meat overall in our diet out, using as a garnish or add-in rather than the pain part of the meal.
    I love this whole imperfection conversation as well. I feel a post rising up in me too!

  15. Rebecca

    Here is my list of what I don’t do:
    Eat grass-fed beef.
    Cook dinner every night.
    Buy non-organic fruit & produce.

  16. Wendi

    Great Idea!
    I don’t use glass/stainless steel for food tupperware/lunch baggies
    I don’t ALWAYS use natural products- health, beauty, cleaning
    I don”t can my own food
    I don’t buy local organic meet
    I don’t cook enough wholesome meals
    I don’t ride my bike/walk instead of drive
    I don’t hardly EVER remember to take my reusable bags in when shopping (althougn I have the Chico Bags in the glove box!)
    Hmmmm, can’t think of anything else, so I think I can work on these 7….good New Years resolutions!
    We are all becoming wiser as we strive

  17. Bethany W

    Ah, this is so freeing.

    I don’t do cloth diapers. And I’m so glad.
    I don’t recycle plastic bags.
    I don’t always use re-usable lunch containers (let’s say I have a fond relationship with ziplock baggies)
    I don’t compost faithfully.
    I still use disposable paper towels.
    I still buy peanut butter from the grocery store.
    I still buy grocery-store chicken.
    I still buy plastic toys for my kids (usually garage sales).

    There’s SO much we DO do … my friends think I’m a weird, hippie, crunchy kind of gal. It’s easy to feel guilt over the few things I do have left … so it’s nice to look back and see how far I’ve come!

  18. Bobbie hardy

    I don’t drive a fuel efficient vehicle, I don’t have a garden, we really treid one year, but apparently the soil around our house sucks, I don’t compost, I do cloth diaper my two youngest, but I found a local seamstress that sells them incredibly cheap!! I don’t buy fresh milk or eggs (no local farmers) I don’t eat grass fed beef for the same reason! I do try to do as much as possible (like make my own bread, and bagels, but other things are just not so easy!

  19. T @ aseedinspired

    Well.. hmm… I have never even thought about cloth diapering…7 kids and it never even made me pause, lol….and along the lines of having 7 kids… I soooo don’t have a fuel efficient car…. but I never really go that far anyways.

  20. Natalie

    This is a great post.
    * I don’t save energy gas by driving…we live 30 minutes outside the town we both live in.
    * I don’t do much canning and most of my garden this year just went back into the compost 🙁
    * I don’t make as much of my own food as I really should and am capable of.
    * I don’t buy all organic foods, only what seems reasonable and what gets used most.

    I am sure there are ton more though….

  21. Jennifer

    I don’t support the use of CFL’s.

    • Emilie

      Oh, me either! The mercury in them makes it so not worth it to me.

  22. Christine

    Goodness – I have realized that there is so much we don’t do now that I have read all these posts! Basically, if Mom AND Dad both work, it’s pretty hard to be completely green. For instance, there is no way I have time to can the veggies from our garden! The only person I know who does this is a stay at home Mom who owns her own farm! Here’s my vices:

    *Sometimes, I NEED a long, hot shower! We live in the country and we have a well, so I think this is ok once in a while to keep me sane.
    *The ziploc baggies are quicker on a busy morning when I haven’t washed our reusables.
    *We leave our laptops plugged in all night long.
    *I LOVE our Pellet Stove – it runs all night when it’s cold – but at least we’re not using oil and I’m a happy warm bunny!
    *I like paper towels for gross messes.
    *When dinner is served late, I use paper plates.
    *I like Starbucks sometimes. I can’t help it.

    What I do:
    Use organic/fair trade personal products & make-up or I make my own.
    I have an organic garden and I compost.
    I use cloth napkins (I figure it makes up for the paper plates and paper towels).
    I recyle all of our scrap paper, glass, cans and bottles.
    I use hand-me-downs and buy second-hand.
    I use natural cleaning products and make some of my own.
    I hang my clothes out to dry.

  23. Kathryn

    I think this is such a great exercise. DD (a kindergartener) and I had a conversation along these lines just yesterday; her school is doing a “go green” theme this year, so she was asking me why we drive our car instead of walking, biking, or taking the bus. It was a great chance to talk about how we can’t always do everything to a 100% level, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing it to the level that’s feasible for us. E.g., the layout of our city doesn’t allow us to be car-free, but we can choose to drive the most fuel-efficient car we can afford, consolidate trips, and live closer to the places we visit most often. And, if there’s something we CAN do at the 100% level, we can focus our energies there.

    Other green things I don’t do (besides walking/biking/taking public transit):
    1. Use reusable menstrual products.
    2. Use cloth toilet paper.
    3. Have a plastic-free kitchen.
    4. Buy certain items (e.g., underwear, swimwear, certain electronics) secondhand.

  24. Tsh

    Love this, Nicole! Here’s just a few for me:

    • I don’t can or garden
    • We eat out more often than I prefer
    • There are times when between the car and the bike, I just opt for the car
    • We’ll occasionally open a bag of something from Costco—dinner’s done
    • I’ve been using my dryer since we moved to our new house

    Great idea!

  25. Charis

    i don’t:
    cloth diaper at all – pregnant with #5 and oldest is only 7 (all boys too!)… i don’t spend what they “say” you spend on disposable and the extra laundry, yuck factor, and upfront investment is not even appealing to me in the slightest.

    line dry – we have an “almost” completely shaded yard. in the little spot we do get about 3-4 hours sun a day, not even consecutive sunlight, i have our small garden. i would much rather garden than line dry.

    shop with reusable grocery bags. i have them, but they are always used for other things for the kids. plus, we re-use the brown bags as garbage bags under the sink and i am not wanting to buy an actual garbage can and liners any time soon. waste of $ in my opinion.

    fun post! no one is perfect, nor should be in my opinion!

  26. Annie

    One of the many things I love about you Nicole, your transparency!
    To name just a few…
    I like soda..eek
    I don’t buy all organic, only as the budget allows
    I like watching tv at night
    My suv fits my lifestyle, and okay with that…although being without it on and off for the last few weeks has caused me to realize I don’t need it as much in my day to day as I thought! My bike has a few more miles on it now, something I’d like to continue.

    I’ve radically changed over the last few years in areas that fit my personality, and slowly the rest is is getting adjusted. Most of this is in large part to you leading the way!
    Love ya friend:)

  27. Leah

    great thread!
    I don’t-
    -have a garden–but I have garden envy
    -drive a hybrid car
    -cloth diaper
    I do
    -can some stuff
    -hunt and eat my own meat
    -watch way too much tv-Cooking channel is my weakness
    -try to stay away from high fructose corn syrup
    We all just do our best. I think we women need to be nicer to ourselves and each other. Embrace the chaos=)

  28. Rebekah from Simply Rebekah

    Ugh! Nicole, you beat me to it! I’ve had this same post in my draft folder forever! Trust me, girl, my list is a lot longer than yours! But you’ll have to wait for me to actually publish the darn thing to find out what is on my list. 🙂

    • Nicole

      okay, Rebekah, now I want to read yours! 😉

  29. Kara E.

    This makes me feel good. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who messes up. I’m ready to confess. I don’t always use our cloth napkins, I don’t cook every meal from scratch, I don’t buy all organic produce, I don’t always cook what’s in season, my kitchen isn’t plastic free, I don’t unplug all of the vampire power sources, we heat our house above 70 in the winter in NE, I still use regular make up, I don’t always use my reusable menstrual products, we don’t buy recycled tp, none of my towels/sheets/clothing is organic cotton, I don’t have a garden since I moved, I don’t compost, and we sometimes drive when walking is available. Good news is, I know these are things I need to work on, so every day is progress!

  30. Jackie Hubbart

    I ABSOLUTELY Love this post!! Bravo ladies…this is my personal mission in life to educate and encourage women to give themselves a break!! We don’t have to do it all…we are imperfect beings and oh my gosh it is “perfectly” ok to be imperfect. All we need to know is that we are doing our best and putting a positive foot in the right direction. Here is my list of “don’t do’s” 🙂
    I don’t drive a hybrid either
    I don’t eat all organic or even always cook from scratch
    I didn’t cloth diaper with either of my babies, I use disposables but I do buy enviro-friendlier versions 🙂
    I don’t use cloth napkins all the time and I cheat and use paper plates on busy nights
    I let my boys watch more tv than they should somedays, but we always wrap up our evenings cuddled in bed reading a good night-time story 🙂
    I use regular makeup…I am a certified makeup junkie
    I do recycle most everything I can, but occasionally “throw out” a soda can EEK!!
    Bottome line is I do my best…and I have learned that life is way to stinkin short to get caught up in the guilt game!
    <3 this, thanks Nicole

  31. Steph

    Take out coffee cups and driving around to get the little one to sleep are probably the worst habits for me!

  32. Andrea Merrigan

    Thanks for sharing! I struggle feeling like I’m not doing anything I should because my Green wish list is so long. But when I look back at the changes I have made it is nice to see I have made improvements, even when I still do things that I would love to change! A few of the things I do not do: I don’t make my own bread, I do watch to much tv (it is a great stress reliever after a long day at work), I do not buy raw milk (cant seem to make the jump!).

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