The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

March 11, 2009

Do you have an Eco Confession?

We did a terrible thing yesterday and will now be stripped of our official green membership card. Actually, Michael did it. But he wouldn’t have if I hadn’t begged him to.

We turned up the thermostat on our hot water heater.

Icebergs will melt and polar bears will be stranded because I couldn’t handle one more luke warm shower. This morning, standing in the steamy heat while my skin turned red and blistered, I thought, “How can something that feels so good be so wrong?” And then I started belting out Like A Virgin.

My mom would totally understand. Here’s a picture of her in Hawaii recently when the temp dropped to a frigid 70 degrees F!

This post has nothing to do with plastic but everything to do with questions about how willing we are to make personal sacrifices to care for the wider world outside our own skins. And my skin was screaming for heat.

Fake Plastic Fish readers sometimes make little comments about how they could never be like me in the plastic department. In fact, one of them who will be rooming with me at the Blogher Conference wondered if she’d measure up as my roommate.

She was just joking. I think.

Because what’s easy for me may not be for others. And what sucks for others might be no sweat for me. Washing my hair with baking soda to avoid a plastic shampoo bottle and to save money? No problem. Doing it in tepid water? Forget about it!

In my defense (because, you know, I’m all about being defensive) I don’t shower every day. So I rationalize that my long, hot showers (Did I mention that they’re long?) should really be considered as several day’s worth. Still, I wonder what Crunchy Domestic Goddess would think (she doesn’t shower every day either), just as Lisa Sharp wonders what I would think when she buys plastic.

What are your eco sins, children? Please confess. I think we can all use a bit of absolution once in a while. On the other hand, if there really is someone out there without eco sin, please go ahead and cast your stones. I can take it — as long as I can be warm. And as long as we can all have a good laugh at the end of the day.

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I have a swimming pool. It came with the house, and I don’t have the heart to get rid of it. We live in AZ so it gets a lot of use in the summer, but I feel horrible about wasting all that water and electricity to run the filter. :-(

Ryan Elizabeth

First of all, this is a fantastic post, I love the concept. Makes me feel better to know that others have guilty pleasures too. :-) I have a salt tooth. Some people have sweet tooths, and I have those too, but I think I may be addicted to salt. As a result, once in a blue moon I can’t help but enjoy a bag (consumed over days/weeks) of chips. Doritos, tortilla chips, and/or Humpty Dumpty BBQ potato chips (only available in Maine and sinfully delicious). Every time I indulge, I feel guilty, which I guess is a good thing! Someday… Read more »

Beth Terry

Hi Caitlin. I did find this article online: The relevant paragraph says: “Now the company is driving aggressively to do more in support of SunChips by doing more for the environment. Kumar described how Frito-Lay is working to invent the first completely biodegradable bag. A teaser video claimed that they are targeting Earth Day 2010 for its arrival, and he promised to give away the technology to all competitors. Naturally, SunChips will be the first to bring it to market.” So I guess they are working on it but not ready to make it public? And, just to make… Read more »


It’s like someone supernatural actually heard my confession! Riding home on the metro yesterday, reading my beloved Real Simple magazine, I noticed a SunChips ad that literally brought me to tears (yes, literally, don’t laugh!). It reads: “Can the earth love my snack as much as I do? If it comes in the right bag it can. That’s why some of our bags are now made with 33% renewable materials. And by next year, they will be 100% compostable…” Woah! A sinfully salty snack for those bad day/bad mood pick-me-ups that won’t ruin my next day with plastic guilt? Self-centered… Read more »

Amy K.

Too many sins to name, just know that I’m working on them! My next focus: Gardening, and making this year’s garden more successful than last. Suggestions for the people above: To minimize the time the shower runs to get the water hot, I turn it to full-hot and fill a 1-gallon bucket. That’s just right to clear the cold water out of the pipes in the morning, and exactly the right amount to fill the humidifier each night too! My parents have poor water pressure, so I grew up taking a comb into the shower to comb the last of… Read more »


Long showers are probably my most frequent sin, as well. My reason is that I shower in the morning between waking up and going to work, and I hesitate for several minutes, just standing there in the running precious water, for one main reason: it is warm in the shower and f-ing freezing outside the shower. (60 degrees in Los Angeles, lol.) One solution to this would be blasting the heater, but of course, that’s yet another sin. So I’m afraid I’m just gonna have to put my Navy-shower hat on, grit my teeth and bear the cold, eh?

Cousin Yellowstone

My biggest sin is that I don’t compost. I’d like to, but I don’t own any land and cannot have an indoor compost bin where I live. I feel terrible about all the compostable material that goes into my trash can.

I also take long showers. Like Sadraki, I use showers to relieve pain. Another reason my showers are so long is that I simply can’t get shampoo or soap to rinse out of my hair quickly any more. I was fine back in the bad old days of high-flow showerheads, but with low-flow showerheads it takes ages to rinse completely.


The beauty of this post is that it brings out the fact that we ALL CARE about what we do. And we do more than most. And what’s great to know, is that if everyone does a few little things, it would make a huge difference.

I think it’s VERY important to teach people that they don’t have to do everything, they don’t have to turn into radical, granola greenies who shun all material things.

But do what you can, be proud of that, and enjoy those long, hot showers!

Cheap Like Me

Apparently, reading this list, nearly everything I do is an eco sin! I felt *good* because I insisted our leftover pizza the other day go in a cardboard box instead of styrofoam. I time my showers at about 3 minutes and use a low-flow head that cuts it down to 2 gallons per minute, but yes, my water heater is turned up. I am gleefully eating the individually wrapped Reese’s peanut butter cups that someone gave us. I have Diet Dr Pepper in my laundry room, and sometimes I drink one. I have a child, and I drive a car;… Read more »


Showers definitely. I had surgery this year and some days they only thing that controls the pain is a long shower–something about the water is soothing. But I tell myself I compensate by continuing to get around with no car even with several months of not being able to walk — YAY for wheelchair accessible buses and nice folks helping me on hills.

Crunchy Domestic Goddess

i can’t throw the first stone, cuz know what, this winter all bets w/ the shower challenge were off for me. it’s true i don’t shower every day, but i think most of my showers are leaning much closer to the 8 minute mark, than the 5 min mark (where they should be). oh, the horrors!other eco sins – i use the big-size ziploc bags for freezing food. i order takeout (so much easier than trying to take 2 little kids out to dinner) and don’t bring my own containers to have them put the food in. i should try… Read more »

greeen sheeep

Green Cat: Candy bars and soda in plastic bottles good with you? ;)

Beth: I get dry itchy skin from hot showers, too. And I am not a boy. My hair also gets frizzy. I read somewhere that it was good to do a quick cold rinse on your hair before you get out. Something about making it shiny or smoothing the follicles? I can’t remember.

The Green Cat

Beth: At least I’ll have good hair when I get there.

Greeen Sheeep: We can travel together in my handbasket as long as you bring the snacks, ok? ;)

Chiot's Run

Mr Chiots and I shower together (and not every day either like you) to help offset the hot water we love so much. We also turn off the water while lathering up.

Every now and then I get cold in the evenings and have to turn up the heat in the house. Usually 60 is fine, but a couple night during the winter I just can’t take it.


I have only taken baby steps in the greening area so I have many sins. I find that there are a lot of competing interests out there that are almost impossible to do all at once. You might be sinless in one area but not in another. I get soap from a company in Ohio. They don’t have coconut oil in either their shampoo bar or their bath soap(allergy). Their products are all natural. They won’t package in plastic if I ask them. I am plastic free and chemical free in this area. But… I am not local. So what… Read more »


dairy and meat are impossible to find without plastic in our neck of the woods, so i try to reduce how much we eat of them…but i can’t quit entirely. (for one thing my husband wouldn’t stand for it, for another i worry about my bones.) but i search for plastic-free alternatives and i make an effort, so i try not to feel as guilty on that one.

my dirty secret: a potato chip addiction!

any plastic-free/low-plastic chip suggestions out there?

Lara S.

I shower in hot water in winter, but completely cold showers in summer.I use natural a hair conditioner in a plastic bottle.But the biggest sin is that I eat tons of plastic wrapped chocolates and sweets of all kinds. Well, I’ve been eating less of them for about a month.But I ride my bike and buy in bulk as much as I can (though I HAVE to buy Quaker’s oat because the oat I can get in bulk is gross!).And I do use plastic bags to line my garbage cans (everybody does it in Argentina, there is no such thing… Read more »


I love hot showers; my husband showers in water that I consider downright cold. I have terrible circulation (I have proof — an infrared camera showed my hands as green and my fingers purple!), so I keep the heat up during the day. I don’t consider buying bread an eco-sin because I’m bad at breadbaking, my oven is broken, and the bag gets used for my husband’s sandwiches and then for kitty litter. Probably the thing I feel guiltiest about, which is funny, because I’m sure that compared to the heat it’s nothing, is putting on all the lights downstairs.… Read more »


No guilt here– I installed a solar hot water system 25 years ago.

But yesterday I did buy 2 Little Cesars’ pizzas in the standard issue cardboard boxes to share with the guys who work on my recycling yard– sorry.

But in my defense I did walk to Little Cesars’.

Beth Terry

Some of these are better than the joke comments a couple weeks ago! Anarres — what do you smoke? Anonymous — I’ve used the No Kids excuse myself at times. Is it truly valid? greeen sheeep — Yes, you will burn in hell. Clif — Crap! Could that be why my hair has been drier than usual for the last two days? Crap oh crap! Green cat — You’re going to burn with greeen sheeep. Hell is filling up with little green animals. Nollij — Double crap! But wait. Only the boys have mentioned dry skin. Maybe it doesn’t affect… Read more »

knutty knitter

I like long hot showers. There is no water shortage here so the answer is to get solar hot water. We did that 2 years back and made sure it was a really decent sized system. Result – happiness!

Sins – fancy cheese and persimmons.

viv in nz

Green Bean

That’s too funny! We (meaning me) just turned up the heat on our hot water heater a week or so ago. After a year and a half of lukewarm showers, I was done. I don’t shower every day either. But, I will say this, with the hotter showers, I don’t stay in as long as I did before because I was desparately hoping to feel a tad warmer before. Eco sins? I drive too much. Way too much. Not for fun but to pick kids up and drop them off and such. Sure, I could be less structured with my… Read more »


Prewashed and chopped fruit and veggies in plastic … this is the only thing I’ve tried that’s worked to get me to eat something healthy every day and not just throw away a bunch of rotting stuff in the fridge.


I love McDonalds. Can’t help it. I’ve always loved it. The food tastes good. I fantasize about Big Macs and Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuits. I know one meal at Mickey D’s generates a TON of waste (but usually minimal plastic). Ohh, I am so torn.


I LOVED your video btw! It’s so neat to see “how you do it.” I copied you and had such fun today, using what I had brought when I wouldn’t have thought I’d even be going out! THANK YOU! My biggest Eco-Confession is letting my CSA winter shares go to waste. I always have such high hopes and good goals, but I fall short, and many turnips and beets were wasted this year because I didn’t store them properly and they turned irreparably moldy. I feel TERRIBLE about this but in spite of it, can’t bring myself to finish off… Read more »


Forgive me FPF, for I have sinned- I buy shredded cheese in a ziplock bag. Phew- I am glad I got that off my chest. Oh yeah, I buy tortillas in ziplocks as well but I do reuse those bags.

Farmer's Daughter

I use my dryer! It’s high efficiency and I only have to do about 2 loads per week.


I love what pigbook1 said. I do comite eco sins..I simply can not do it all given where I live but I do make conscious decisions everyday and act as mindfully as I can. My biggest sin? Plastic bottle water bottles. I can not bring myself to drink tap water no matter what kind of filter is in place. It stems from a childhood trauma and once living in an area that had raw sewage leaking into the household water system….blahh!! I am careful about which water company gets my business yet I still feel very guilty for this sin.

Joao Soares

Hello, dear Beth
Thks for all your deep task in awake many ppl for help their own lives, supporting environment issues.
All the best for you and family.
I refer your fantastic blog to my readers.
Joao Soares


BACON. I would toss starving amputee orphans out of the way for the stuff.


My sins are many, but I’ll admit one:

I use the evil deodorant that comes with plastic and aluminum and all sorts of other nasties. Nothing else works for me. I tried it all. Baking soda works, but I wanted to rip out my arm pits as it itched so bad. I added corn starch and other powders to modify the itchiness to no avail. I don’t shower everyday, so that is where I gain my eco credits lost in the deo-zone.

Mother Beth, forgive me for I have sinned and will continue to do so.

Condo Blues

I've been doing the "green" thing way before it was cool or called "green". Once day, after reading some blogs from folks who where huranging about their particular pet practises that weren't mine (mostly regional differences or thins that if you get down to it are not 100% compliment like biodegradable trash bags.) I felt horrible and made a list of my green practises vs. my few non green practises. Turns out my Green list was 3 times as long as my Non and even then I could have written more on my Green list but my hand was cramping… Read more »


I like hot showers and baths, too. I take one or the other everyday. It’s not to get clean — I could easily go every other day (or more probably) but because it’s my favorite way to destress and a mom of a young kid. I can’t hear her cry in the shower and so I can’t feel bad when Daddy can’t get her to stop right away. I also keep our place warmer than I otherwise would so she can run around with leg warmers instead of pants. I just can’t fight the pants battle at every diaper change.… Read more »


Incandescent light bulbs. As green as I am with everything else, I’m willing to sacrifice some watts. I’d LOVE to use LED’s, but they aren’t (yet) bright enough to replace all of my bulbs.

I’d use CFL, but I have a problem with fluorescent lighting.


there are mangos from mexico on my counter and the avocados came from further away…much further away…than my backdoor.


I’m a long, hot shower person, too, but I do live in the PNW where rain is never lacking, no matter the season. I’ve considered conservation measures, such as using the warm-up water on the yard, but it’s already to wet out there that I would be creating another problem ;-) Yes, I could use it to flush, but DH already thinks I’m nuts…


My confession:
I use plastic grocery bags. I have the reusable and even keep them in the truck, but I forget about them at the store until check-out time.
Not all of my seeds are local and the ones that are local, not all of them are organic.
I use the dryer when children are sick or for drying the toilet paper.


I think my biggest green sin is that I’m still driving my truck (though a lot less than I used to). I haven’t given up cheese (which unless you buy a whole wheel, always comes wrapped in plastic. To those who say “buy it at the deli and put it in your to-go-ware container”, my retort is that it’s NOT organic cheese unless you buy at Whole Foods (and even then not always) and when THEY don’t buy the whole wheel, it’s STILL wrapped in plastic!). I haven’t completely given up toothpaste. The shower thing for me is easy: hot… Read more »

Trying to Teach Green

Baths. I take hot baths. So much worse as they use so much more water. If I could I would recycle my bath water or use rain water instead but I don’t have any of those capturing resources available to me. Yet.

Condo Blues

The dishwasher repairperson came to my house last week (and in Condo Blues DIY gone wrong fashion, fixed the dishwasher by turning the water back on because I forgot to after fixing the thing myself.) Since I was out $118 for the service call, I peppered him with questions about the quirks of my dishwasher namely why did I leave grit all over my stuff? He said that since my dishwasher is energy efficient (news to me – yay!) it only uses 2 gallons of water to do the job so the water has to be hotter to do the… Read more »


For me…it’s the food. We eat from around the world…and love it. Even my toddlers are little foodies. If I need fresh sage for German mushroom stew and it only come in a plastic bag…I am still getting the herbs. The baby wants Gruyere and berries for snack…not local and smothered in plastic. Going in the cart? Yep. We try to go as organic as possible to at least not be contributing to the world being plastered with more pesticides and during the Spring-Fall we get the bulk of our produce from the CSA and farm markets, …but I know… Read more »

Barb in FL

I take long hot showers, but I do try to conserve water with the dishwasher and laundry loads as best as I can. I still applaud you for all you try to do in using as little plastic as possible! You’re definitely a greener person than me! I’m still trying to cut down on plastic usage in our household, and since our 10 year old joined the Earth Club as school—he’s become my eco-buddy! My hubby’s not a big recycler, but I’m working on him!

The Green Cat

I’ve been pondering this same idea lately. I find myself feeling superior when I see someone leave the grocery store with a ton of plastic bags and yet I justify my own transgressions. What is an easy change for me may be a compromise my neighbor isn’t willing to make. My confession? My vanity causes me to use a lot of products that aren’t the best for the environment. I tried vinegar rinse but found my hair really wants conditioner. I justify it by buying biodegradable/organic shampoo and conditioner, but those come in plastic bottles–and not very big ones either.… Read more »


If you like hot showers, you’d love it here as the condo mgmt keeps the hot water scalding hot. But, I’ve found really hot water showers give me itchy skin later on so I avoid the high temp for a non-eco reason.

My guilt would have to lie in not limiting my use of plastic more than I do, but then I read your blog and think “way to go, Beth!” and feel better!

Oh! Almost forgot…I should eat lots less meat than I do.

greeen sheeep

Yesterday I bought a soda (in a plastic bottle) and a candy bar because I needed a pick me up. Aaagghhh! I am quite sure I will burn in Hell for it.


I never had any kids. So that means I can take 10 extra long hot showers a year.


I take hot showers EVERY DAY! And I use shampoo, to boot. Plus I keep my thermostat at a toasty 70-72F in the winter (which I justify because I have a small baby).

Oh, and I have a small baby, which means I have just produced another polluting human. And his 4-year-old sister, too.

I feel kind of dirty now.

Anarres Natural Health

I smoke and hitch rides in cars.


I’m a shower sinner, too. But I try to compensate by only showering hot and long in the winter time as I am not using the heaters in my apartment at all and sometimes, when it’s dropping to 12C or something like that, a hot shower really feels like heaven. I am also, like you, not showering every day, so, like you, I hope the green gods forgive me. On the other hand I try to really keep showers cold and short in the summertime, which is usually working perfect (because the bathroom is not so freaking cold anymore). My… Read more »


I’m a hot shower gal, too, and I love it when the bathroom fills up with steam so it’s not freezing when I get out. And while I try to keep the thermostat down in winter, some evenings I just have to turn it up.

I guess I’m just cold-blooded. Once I get cold, I have a hard time getting warm no matter how many layers I put on. Thank goodness for electric blankets and mattress pads!