Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Environmentally unfriendly regrets

We all makes choices in our lives, including some that aren't very environmentally friendly, in spite of our best intentions. There are costs, availability and other things to consider, especially if we prefer one thing over another. Or we just plain like it.

So, today I thought I'd list some of the choice regrets that I've made (and still make) and wish I hadn't:

1. The bunk bed we bought that is made out of particle board and is probably off gassing more formaldehyde (and who knows what) than I'd like
2. The cheapo patio furniture from Walmart online that lasted 3 seasons before it exploded
3. Draino - I keep trying alternatives, but nothing unclogs our sinks
4. X-14 - The mold in our shower just doesn't go away without it
5. Driving to work 3 days a week, because the bus just doesn't run often enough during my work hours

What are your regrets?


Unknown said...

Have you tried using a drain auger? We stopped using Drano and have switched to an auger. For us it has saved alot of money and we are clog free for MUCH longer!

Some of my (sadly too long) list of regrets:
-Oreos...I love them and no amount of HFCS can deter me.
-My job which necessitates that I drive, a LOT.
-My giant carbon footprint from having to fly east to see my family

Eva Elisabeth said...

Regarding your mold problem, you might have tried this already but fill a spray bottle with half white vinegar, half water, add 30-50 drops of tea tree essential oil (depends on how big your bottle is). Spray on offending areas and leave sit overnight (it smells a bit pungent but not horribly so to my nose). The next day spray again and scrub with brush to loosen any visible mold, rinse. Thereafter spray as needed, remember to shake the bottle vigorously before use to disperse the tea tree. I live in Ireland where we have significant mold problems and this has worked for me.

Robj98168 said...

Depnds on what is clogging the drain! If it is just hair clogs, there is a tool sold at safeway, of all places, that looks like a long thin piece of plastic with barbs on the sides that cleans out the hair clogs just great. Really! Martin has that long ass hair and constantly clogs the shower.
Anyway on to my list-
I eat too much take out. I know it. But Dammit I get hungry!
I drive more than is neccessary- to work, to the store. But I need to work to buy take out at the store.

Heather said...

Dairy products! They're responsible for nearly 1/3 of the carbon emissions associated with producing food for my husband and I (800kg CO2e per year!!!). And they cause heaps of pollution of fresh water as well. Plus NZ is now supplementing the feed of our cattle (which are currently still all pasture-raised) with palm kernels....

But I can't work out how to reduce our consumption any more without messing with my health. We've already replaced a lot of our butter with margarine or oil and we only eat icecream when we're sharing it with guests, so the majority of it is milk and cheese. I eat very little (only about 1200 kCal per day) as I have severe CFS and spend most of my life in bed so gain weight easily. I have to eat super-nutritious food to get enough nutrition in so few calories, and milk and cheese really help with that. Especially with calcium - which is rather important as bed-bound people are at high risk of osteoporosis.

Plus it's yummy! In NZ in the 1950s all Kiwi kids were provided with milk with their lunch every school day courtesy of the government. Milk drinking is highly ingrained in our culture!

--Heather from New Zealand.

The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

My list of regrets is getting shorter as I tackle each one, but my main embarrassment is that I'm still driving too much! Every good intention to ride my bike to work gets foiled by storms, allergies (bad this year!), the dog ate my homework, and so on....

swiggett said...

During our move, I cared more about moving and getting things cleaned up/thrown out than the environmental impact. Feel really bad about that.

We drive, as we've moved out of bus range. The only consolation is that my husband and I are a one car family, and carpool.

I still buy coffee in a throw away cup sometimes.

I'm also fanatical about my shampoo, etc, but much more lax with what my husband uses. Partly because he doesn't care so much. Still bothers me.

I'm sure there is more.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I have one major eco-regret... we built a 3700 sq.ft. house. I've been known to lie and say it's 2500 b/c I'm embarassed. But in my defense, I was 25 when we started building and didn't have the wisdom that comes with previously owning a house! It's expensive to heat, and while many of the materials were salvaged and we did most of the work ourselves so we can afford the mortgage, we have huge taxes... and I'll always have to work. :(

phabulous_philly said...

Oh where do I start?!

Well I think the biggest one playing on my mind lately is the new puppy we have accepted into our home! I love her to death but didn't realize her impact until lately.
I have to drive to work every day so that I will have a car at work to stop at home to let her out at lunch time for a pee break ( before the dog I walked or carpooled to work ) I live only 2.5kms away. She has had a few health problems which means trips to the vets office on the outskirts of town ( more driving! )
We leave the air conditioner on in the room she's in during the day because we've been having a heat wave for the past week of approx. 35 degrees plus the humidex....uggh!
Not to mention the fact included with those health problems is some allergies to all natural holistic foods of all things so she's on a modified type of food.
I'll leave it at the dog for now because that list is pretty embarassing!

Tree Huggin Momma said...

A drain snake once a month is way better for your pipes. Think about it. Draino is eating away the clog, what else is it eating? Your pipes my dear.

Just saying ;)

Anyways for me - its continuing to drive a gas hog SUV. We do plan on getting a smaller car (Subaru or Chevy if I win) but we tent camp and that requires quite a bit of equipment. :)

Jenn said...

- very small sink and no counter space, so I end up wasting a LOT of water when I wash dishes (no room for a basin - and no, I am NOT washing dishes in the bath tub)

that's the biggest one

Katie @ said...

I'm a pilot.

I think that's mine. But it's the most practical way to get around for us in the US. Otherwise we're biking and taking public transport. So in the end we use far less fuel than drivers. But the word "airplane" has a dirty connotation to pollution with green folks.

Cherie said...

Like Farmers Daughter, I built my house way too big. Also, I got a vehicle with leather seats (which hurts me ethically and environmentally). I could go on...

Billie said...


4 cans of spray paint are sitting waiting for disposal because it was easier (and therefore looks nicer) to spray on primer and topcoat on my new to me bed. Still pondering how many toxins I breathed in while doing that.

I drive my car to places I could walk to if I had the time to actually walk and get everything else done.

I might keep my house cold in the winter but I don't keep it hot in the summer. After 3 days of NO A/C I know exactly why I don't keep it hot. It must be at 72 unless you want to see my ugly half come out. And believe me... it was ugly last night when the house hovered around 80 degrees.

Shari said...

My biggest regret is our gas tankless water heater. Saves on energy because you only heat the water that you need but you have to run the water for quite a while to get hot water. AND you have to run a pretty significant stream in order for the gas to be triggered to heat the water. If you turn the water down too low the gas shuts off and the water goes back to cold. The bathroom sink doesn't have a big enough flow to trigger the water heater so we the only time we get anything near warm water out of the bathroom sink is just after you've taken a shower. Like the energy savings, HATE the water waste.

Oldnovice said...

Plastic. There seems no way (at my age) I can get away from it. Been taking LONG walks with my family lately to stores that sell groceries because I thought that would save on the gas used to drive to the gym (WAY too far away to walk). I really need to take Aleve as soon as I get home from these walks and Aleve comes in a plastic bottle, as do my allergy pills, folic acid, vitamins, herbs, fish oil, floss, etc.

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

ahh Geez. Crunchy!
Fine here's my list that I can think of right now.

-Drive way too much. 2 kids in all year soccer. each kid has practice 2 days a week, 1 fitness day and games on the weekends. Uggg it tugs on my heart

-Plastic - I too cannot get away from it. Its the only way I can freeze my produce to enjoy all year long. BUT I do not microwave it.

-Allergy pills-I ignore the chemicals and plastic involved. I cant stomach the bee pollen so its gonna have to stay.

-Clothing-I try to stay away from polyester but cotton I can't wear to the gym. I buy 99% of my clothes from 2nd hand stores though.

-My laptop is plastic...yes it bothers me

-My running shoes made by Nike. I have a marathon coming up on the 12th and needed them. I refuse to look at what they are made of.... good shoes are a must!

Milk products-I try to buy glass jar milk but sometimes money is tight. Sour cream, yogurt, etc is all bought in plastic containers. So is my cheese. Horrible....

-Dryer bar-yes im using a Bounce dryer bar but once its gone its gone! It was free in the mail....sorry

-and last but not least I threw away some banana peels in the trash (EEEEEEK) because I was too lazy to take out the compost bucket.

I feel better now, thanks for letting us get this off our chest.

Jennie said...

When we moved for my new job, we couldn't find an apartment in the new town that would let us keep my kitty, so we live in the next town South, but it's too far to bike so I'm driving everyday to work again. :-(

Chard Lady said...

My regret is buying a home with an association that won't allow xeriscape or vegetables in the front yard.

OneOldGoat said...

Wow - am I glad you posted this! I've felt like such a bad person because I can't bus to work, because I also sometimes by coffee in throwaway cups, have a big ass SUV, among other things. Thanks for sharing - and making us think!

Beth aka oneoldgoat

Mary said...

My biggest on-going regret is mowing the yard. We live in a rural sub-topical climate. We don't care about a beautiful grassy lawn, but if we don't mow, an impenetrable jungle of non-native invasives (privet, bermuda grass, trumpet vine, mimosa, china berry, etc.) will grow right up to our doorsteps. I hate it because I would love to not mow and have beautiful native grasses and other native plants growing freely, but it ain't gonna happen here.

Round Belly said...

my regrets is still being addicted to computers and iphones... they destroy our environment in the manufacture of the rare metals and use electricity while running, and are so dangerous to disposition of that we ship them to poor towns in China.

I also have a regret of having to put vinyl on my new floor- but have not found any better choice for that location.

Lola said...

hmm let's see:
1) Not having enough money to buy an electric car. Though I am happy to see theta the 2010 Nissan leaf is sold out :D
2) drying my clothes in the dryer instead of hanging them.
3) I am from Argentina, so NO, I am NOT giving up beef nor dairy. It is just not going to happen.
4) Until recently I did not have reusable veggie bags but I bought 10 of them so I am good now.
5) I keep my A/C at 80F but I live on a top floor and it gets pretty damn hot here , so I cannot avoid it.

Colleen said...

Driving, chemical sunscreen (Anthelios, it works too well to give it up.......), juice boxes for my son on the way home from childcare. Probably have some more egregious offenses but those are the first that come to mind.

Jennifer said...

Building way to big of a house, or more to the point using toxic materials to build this house. Thinks like plywood, particle board and carpet.

Using chemical bathroom stuff, all though that's changing but still huge regret.

And having a lawn put in only to wake up 2 years later and rip it out for a garden. I wish we would have realized what's important sooner.

Erika said...

My top three:
1. Driving... so... much....
2. to-go containers
3. waste - (paper, plastic, unknowns, etc. that somehow accumulate in our recycle bin, water waste, electricity waste, etc.)
I think it all comes down to laziness! If I'd plan out my day better, I could bike to work (or ride the bus), bring my own containers 100% of the time, and UBER-control what comes in my house..... or at least that's my excuse...


Karine said...

Here is the top of my list:
- Choosing a daycare that is locally convenient but doesn't accept cloth diaper, doesn't feed the kids food that is as healthy as I would like and doesn't really care about the environment.
- Choosing non-organic milk because the organic one smells pretty bad when it stains a shirt.
- Travelling so far for vacation (but it is so much more interesting).
- Being too shy to follow my convictions (accept take away not to bother, accept baby's t-shirt with vinyl drawings when given to me and then using them since I have them!)
- Still secretly enjoy shopping.

Lisa said...

Have you tried tea tree oil for mold? It got rid of toxic mold in our house.

My guilt:
I eat out to much in the summer, my husband is a teacher so has summers off and we somehow end up eating out a lot! They are local restaurants and I don't get straws and they use real dishes but still.

I still buy way to much packaged food.

I love organic suckers which are wrapped in plastic in a plastic bag.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I need to paint several rooms in my house because my builder used cheap paint and drywall comes off on damp rag when I wash the walls. I'm considering a VOC paint because some low and now VOC paint jobs only last 2 years. I don't want to be in the same paint situation I'm in now but I'd rather not have the paint off gas and kill us all.

For your drains have you tried a power drum auger? It's a drain snake that fits onto an elelctric drill and really clears drain clogs. Best $20 my husband ever spent! I used to have mildew issues in my bathroom too. Turns out my bathroom exhaust fan met code but was too small to do the job! I switched it out for a larger fan and that did the trick! I wanted an Energy Star rated model but all of those had lights, heat lamps, and other doo dads I didn't need. Not really a regret, that one was more of a eco-rant!

cindy24 said...

hard to know where to begin.
1) 4 cans of spray paint used to paint security door last week - realized in the middle that it was wrong.
2)not putting in graywater system in house when remodel and put in all new plumbing
3)not using all green products in building - did use some
4)using too much plastic
5)thanks for the post re tankless water taking so long to get warm. thought there was something wrong with mine. i do catch and resuse some but need to do that more.
those are the main ones

Laura Kaeding said...

The dog poop, which requires constantly using plastic bags for poop. Haven't found a good, clean alternative yet.

The dog and cat food packaging.

My job, which is fast food, makes me feel terrible because I see first hand how much waste one single restaurant can put out.

Clothing, I love clothing. I can't help myself :( I try to buy secondhand as much as possible, but every now and then my spoiled girly side breaks through.

I think that's enough for now... :)

Liz said...

Plastic baby stuff (hope I offset some of that by cloth diapering and breastfeeding!)

Certain junk food

In general, a consumerist mentality that I am desperately trying to rid myself of.

Carolina said...

1) Diet Coke. I know, I KNOW!

2) The amount of cheap/plastic toys or plastic-encased food I buy for my kids, generally in an attempt to bribe them to behave while I'm shopping or trying to get something done. Talk about a parenting regret cherry to place upon my environmental regret cake.

3) Plastic in general. I buy 80-90% organic and usually local, but still can't escape plastic packaging and haven't made very much of an effort to do so. The recent oil spill in the Gulf Coast has made me feel especially guilty about this.

MadameMim said...

Unfortunately my little southern city has no concept of that little trend called public transportation and is entirely too spread out to walk where I need to get, so I'm stuck driving everywhere except the library. We do park in one central location if we're shopping downtown and walk, but it's still a lot of driving. Although I guess compared to most people around here, it's not too bad...about 75 miles a week.

I regret ripping out the clothes line in the back yard when I bought my house...I was 23 and stupid.

Also, being lazy about sewing some reusable veggie bags...I have the stuff, I just haven't done it.

And when I cleaned out my "storage" room, I threw out recyclable stuff because I didn't feel like sorting recycling and trash...though I did keep a thrift store box.

Using straws...

Being on the computer (or lately, Xbox) about 17 hours a day, lol.

Not replacing the little rubber rings in my bath faucets that I've had for over a year...maybe two. I do keep a bucket under the faucet and use it to flush the toilet and water plants, but I sometimes for get to put it back after a bath and that leads to massive guilt on my part.

Oh, yeah, taking baths. I don't take them as much in the summer, but in the winter I take one every week or two. I justify that by staying in for an hour or two until the water is icy...but it's still totally wasteful...and relaxing.

I've got MDF too, although from what I've read, having it in the house isn't as dangerous as manufacturing or cutting it. The sawdust and fumes created pose more of a threat than having a piece in your house. Not that it's safe, but you know...

I've been slowly trying to correct them one by one...switched out all out soaps, shampoos, makeup, etc; got a good reusable coffee mug for starbucks/gas station coffee; composting and recycling *almost* everything; living in a sauna to avoid overusing the AC...

Sarah C said...

1) Driving. My commute is 2.5 hrs roundtrip between home, daycare, and work. All will change next month, but still it's been like this for a year. And my Outback gets 23 mpg.

2) The 25 bag of flour I buy from Costco is from ConAgra (shudders). I can't find organic or even non-evil flour in bulk that doesn't require me to sell my first born. We're on a TIGHT budget, so I suck it up and eat my bread made with devil flour.

TracyKM said...

Have you tried the "Hey Tom Drain Cannon" from THey're clearing them out right now! They have a video on YouTube that's funny.
For mold, I leave my shower curtain open till the tiles are dry. Once in awhile I do a bit of diluted bleach as a spray.
You bought a patio set from Wal-Mart that lasted 3 years? I think that's pretty impressive for Wal-Mart, LOL.

I'm still thinking about my environmental regrets. All that pressure treated wood for our deck? And that I let my husband take the scrap to my dad's acerage to use as fill?

Sarah said...

It broke 100F in Tucson, AZ today, and I still biked to and from work. Regret: driving the other 4 days.

I'll echo the other thoughts on plastic - I'm trying.

I also feel bad about buying something new at Target, but I also feel bad driving around to 5 different second hand stores looking for something specific (which they won't have, so I'd have to make return trips when all I need is a bookshelf).

Lastly: electricity use. I'm doing fine without AC, but ceiling fans, lights and the bf using the dryer and play station doesn't help. I'm turning off the computer now...

dc said...

Carbon footprint:

Traveling, so far this year we've been to New Zealand, Spain and Moab (drove). In a week we're driving down to Santa Fe for a conference (vacation for me :o)). That's a lot of air miles! We do bike to work and live in a bike friendly community. I'm biking to my community garden plot and the farmers market this AM.

I love NZ sauvignon blancs, that's a lot of miles for my wine to travel! If there were comparable American sauvies I'd buy them.

Anna @ Blue Dirt said...

Sure I'm a farmer's wife with 2 boys who drives an suv too much, uses plastic (never even thought about straws) and I love shopping. We live in a modern world, and though we strive to change ourselves to break the conventions we have to accept that there are some things that are unavoidable. Sure I have things I don't like, but usually they are tied to affordability, availability, and time.

Don't get me wrong, I'm more environmentally responsible than 95% people in our area. I could go on about all the things we do. I'm just going to keep looking forward instead of backward. Next time, I'll do better!

Visty said...

I stopped letting my husband use drano, so he unscrews the drain thing and takes it out, and there is always a giant clog of hair he just throws away. Works every time.

My biggest guilt inducer is that I shop online for a lot of clothes, because I hate shopping and malls and driving, and those clothes are always individually wrapped in plastic bags. I hate it. But I hate shopping for clothes more.

CatHerder said...

Long hot showers, and my hairdye...oh please dont take away my hairdye

Kerry said...

Driving everywhere. We live in a small town/rural village, in a valley between two small mountains. I just can't wrap my head around riding my bike with the kid trailer loaded with 70 lbs of weight up and down those insane hills to go to the farmer's market. So we drive.

and worse still, plane trips.

To avoid 4 16 hour drives from Nova Scotia to Ontario to deliver and retreive the kids from their summer visit to their dad's we're sending them by plane.

meg said...

So many! What comes to mind-

* Our car gets crap gas mileage (subaru forester-20-22mpg). We are a 1-car family so I justify it that way... but not really. I haven't been taking the bus as much as I used to and could.
* The amount of waste I generate in 1 shift as a nurse. Unavoidable for the most part, but I cringe all day long at all the plastic I toss.

margfh said...

My house is 4400 square feet. It originally was about 1400 but we "inherited" my three disabled brothers in 1998 so did a massive add-on and redo. I, in the throes of a crisis, got caught up in it along with my husband. While we definitely needed more room we didn't need this much. Fast forward 10 years and my brothers have all moved to group home (something we did not foresee to happen that quickly - and yes 10 years is quick) and now it's just my husband and I in this large house. We can't sell it now in this market and as we have a small farm I am very unhappy at the prospect of leaving something we have built up over 20 years - including our good soil.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

Disposable diapers for my twins and the minivan to put my three girls (who all need carseats) in. The plus-side to the minivan, however, is that we rarely drive it and use our Prius for errand-running and other trips that don't involve taking everyone.

There is no plus-side to the diapers. I just can't manage any more laundry.

rachel said...

I feel your drain pain. I couldn't stand to use Draino any longer so I googled like hell. What finally worked for me was a combo of the vinegar + baking soda, then plunge the clog like hell, repeat until clear. I think also the key is doing it once or twice a month as a preventative. Good luck!

Unknown said...

There are a lot of things we'd like to change/upgrade that I don't have much control over, so I don't regret those. However, I made a big mistake when we bought a refrigerator a few years ago! What we really wanted was a SunFrost...they're these super efficient, life time guaranteed, fridges that can be used in a solar powered house, or converted to run on gas (and one day we want to make biogas), but they cost as much as my car. So instead we went to Home Depot which offers a different set of features to choose from and in all the excitement of being able to buy a fridge with a freezer on the bottom (which I love), we bought a fridge that is way too big...and I don't really need a freezer at all since we have an upright freezer in the garage. One day we'll get a SunFrost but we could have done so much better with our "in the meantime" fridge.

ST said...

Crunchy - was back-reading some of your posts and just had to comment on this one re the draino:

About one every few weeks I pour baking soda down the sink, with a wee bit of warm water. Follow by a generous amount of vinegar, and a pot of boiling water. Every so often (few weeks) it keeps the sinks cleaned out and decreased the amout of draino needed. And it's super fun to watch all the bubbles!

Hope that helps!