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  • 5 of my Bizarre Secret Green Habits

    guilty-dirty-green-habitsAlthough I have the beloved nicknames of “hippie”, “recycle nazi” and a few others, I tend to be proud with my green choices. But I still keep a few of my green habits on the DL.


    Mostly because I try to maintain a low profile and not be the ‘angry green’ girl. Or the weird girl with the green habits. Ready for my reveal of bizarre habits?

    1. I’ll carry around “trash” around for a little while until I find a recycling bin. Although I try to find recycling bins everywhere, I have snuck a beer can or empty food container in my gym bag or purse on occasion until I get home to a recycling abyss.
    2. I’ll keep something in my apartment until I can figure out what to do with it. I’ve been more cognizant recently that all trash goes into a landfill – where things aren’t breaking down, decomposing or really effectively being reused. When I write my ‘where can I Wednesday” column, it’s often because I have a product that needs to be disposed – and I have no idea how to responsibly. Right now, I have approximately 6 pairs of shoes in my closet until I can send them to Terracycle or find a used shoe drive. I just hope I don’t look like a green klepto.
    3. I don’t flush… every time. I tend to go with the philosophy “If it’s yellow, let it mellow”. Having my own bathroom for the last 3 years makes it pretty convenient. I realized my secret green habit was leaked when one my BFFs said “OMG Julie, I’m so sorry I flushed. I know you don’t every time!” As I had to assure her that I did indeed flush my own toilet on occasion. It conserves water so I don’t mind this. Don’t worry though – I clean my bathroom religiously and disguise my habit for guests (especially the overnight type…)
    4. I find myself picking up trash off the street as I walk through Philly. There’s a sea of litter and debris, so I often pick up a few bottles or empty chip bags until I see a recycling bin or trash can (and often times a few blocks). Sometimes I need to wash my hands ASAP but try to influence others to ‘unlitter us’.
    5. I’ll spend an unreasonable amount of time reading labels. For example, I search each variety of guilt-ice cream to find the one without high fructose corn syrup or which bath products exclude sodium laurel sulfate/sulfides. Shopping at places other than Whole Foods (which generally doesn’t carry such ingredients), requires me to read every label in the aisle. But sometimes that means standing in front of a food item for 10 minutes to figure out whether the generic brand contains a horrible chemical that the brand name excludes (or vice virsa.)

    Readers, what “dirty” green habits do you find yourself getting into? Do you have a sustainable action that’s still in the closet?


    Photo: Upper Echelon Records

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

    Your thoughts . . .

    • Elly

      We will “carry out” our recyclables when we visit my parents in TN (where recycling is not mandatory or easy to do).

    • OMG I do all of these things! Especially since being in college, I take all the beer cans and red solo cups home if they don’t recycle them… (which they usually don’t!)

      Love your posts!

    • Glad to hear, Elly!

      Thanks Nicole! 🙂 Glad to hear I’m not alone in my ‘weird’ behaviors… And yes, I’ve definitely collected solo cups at parties and placed them in the recycling bin. Or at least reminded party-goers they can place them there. 😉

    • I just met my mom at our halfway point in WV. (I live in NC; she lives in OH) I brought home all my recycling and some of hers. I didn’t sneak hers all out of the trash and now I kinda feel bad that I didn’t!

      Next time, I’ll do better! 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing JoAnne! I know what you mean about ‘sneaking’ recycling out of the recycling bin – I try pointing it out to my parents about ‘recycling violations’ repeatedly. Eventually they’ll catch on… 😉

    • Tim

      Ha I’ve been guilty of being the party recycling nazi too. I do all of those things too (not as concerned about chemicals though), even at work. There’s a conference room where people routinely throw out cans/bottles and I’ll pick them out of the trash (and hope i’m not seen carrying 5 cans to my desk, or take them in pairs…). I turn off lights in other people’s houses/offices/etc, I used to do a nightly walk through my dorm. Hell, I even installed pipe insulation on a friend’s water heater once when he wasn’t home.

    • connie curtis

      I felt very recreated. I do the same things. Its hard to figure out how to recycle some things. Even earth 911 doesnt answer all my questions or googling. We have a bag of lead that was at my mothers in law and we dont know how to dispose of it.

    • Julie– great post.

      And I do all of these things as well. 🙂

    • Sarah Jumel

      Shoot, I don’t flush. I go in a quart container, and either pour it in the sink (with a minimal rinse) or add a little water and water plants. Your urine, thinned a bit, is a good fertilizer, and it is sterile. It all ends up in the same place. Don’t even go in the toilet unless you have a major deposit.

    • Nicole

      My bizarre secret green habit is private and shared with no one I know, but here goes: I use cloth pads when I’m menstruating, not only to reduce the amount of waste I create as an individual, but to reduce the amount of chemicals leaching into my body from commercially made products.

    • Beth

      Loving the responses! Great post, Julie 🙂
      I’m guilty of most of these. I also have the good/bad habit of unplugging friends and families appliances and unused cell phone chargers in their homes when they’re not looking (can’t stand to see wasted energy!)

    • I’m guilty of all of these too! It’s nice to know other people do these too. Before we had a recycling bin in my office, I would hoard paper and water bottles in my desk until I had a good amount to bring home and put in the recycling bin.

    • Also guilty as charged! I also cloth diaper at home and I feel like there is a whole range of secrets involved in that practice. Don’t ask, don’t tell, just get the dirty work done!

    • Julie Wheeler

      Ha! I do all of these things too! Maybe it’s a Julie thing? 😉

    • Love all of these comments. And maybe it is a “Julie” thing. Or a true “greenies” thing. 😉