Green Guilt

The New York Times

"Even the most committed say they commit environmental sins," reports The New York Times in Thursday's article Green, but Still Feeling Guilty. All carbon footprint seriousness aside, this article made me laugh aloud—it's a comical look at the reality of living a eco-conscious life. I can relate, and I'm sure you can too. The New York Times profiles a number of different people experiencing green guilt—read on for the most entertaining, yet telling, guilty pleasures.

On disposable diapers: "Not only do I feel guilt, I feel hypocritical. But it's the most functional diapers we've found. They keep my son dry. They don't irritate his skin. They don't clump up and get really heavy. They happen to work best, and that's annoying," comments Josh Dorfman, author of The Lazy Environmentalist. Going on to explain how he and his wife avoid going through too many diapers, Josh says, "we pay close attention to Shep to determine when he's about to pee or poop and then race to the shower so that he doesn't soil his diaper so we can use it longer."

On plywood: Living in Vermont, Peter King has been off the grid for 28 years. He grows much of his own food and heats with wood. When asked about his green guilt, Peter replied, "Plywood...It's the glue they use. And it's a matter of perspective—it depends on how you use industrial mass production. When you buy a piece of plywood, you are buying potentially bad logging practices...But plywood is stronger, it's faster, it's cheaper – all of which count for most people."

Reading on, other green guilts cited include owning a power boat instead of a sail boat, consuming too much stuff, toxic glue because it holds better, and maintaining a backyard pool.

Most of these indulgences—diapers, glue, and plywood (when considering cost)—have something in common: the eco-friendly versions of these products just aren't designed to be the better solution. Sure, as new products and better solutions enter the market, making eco-friendly choices will become even easier, but what products could be completely re-thought?

Thinking about my own green guilt, I sometimes drink water from plastic bottles and when it's too hot or humid outside, I sleep with air conditioning. When cleaning my cat's food and water bowls, I use paper towels. I also really like nail polish.

What's your guilt?

(Image: The Green Guy)

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Landis is a ceramic artist who hand-makes heirloom-quality pottery for the kitchen, table, and home. She writes about tabletop design and entertaining for The Kitchn and lives in Maplewood, NJ with her husband and toddler.