When Going Green Goes… Not So Great

A hawk landed on my flower box to eat her snack lunch. Just like on National Geographic. It was gross.

Like anything new that you try, sometimes there’s a learning curve.

Last week I shared the ways I’ve changed to a more simple, natural lifestyle, but today I thought I would share some of the bloopers.

Like when I first tried to go shampoo-free. Everyone was raving about using a vinegar rinse in place of conditioner for soft, clean hair. I tried it and my hair looked like a bird’s nest. It felt like straw. What was I doing wrong? Months later I figured out that I was using white distilled vinegar, but it’s apple cider vinegar that works so well.  (A couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a squirt bottle filled with water, if you want to try it. Pour it over your hair and rinse out.)

Or when I made yogurt because I wanted to know how, and it turned out really good. In my eagerness to try it though, I didn’t stop to consider that everyone else in my family is dairy-free, and I’m not really a yogurt-loving person. So there I was with a ton of yogurt and no one else who could eat it.

Then one time I was at a party, and as I loaded up my plate with cheese and cake, my friend asked, “So are you still keeping worms under your kitchen sink?” Everyone within earshot turned and stared. I’m pretty sure a chip fell out of someone’s mouth and hit the floor. Yeah. Awkward.

Any good stories to share? Experiments gone wrong? Awkward pauses? Do tell. Share it in the comments.
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Ha! The party conversation involving worms is a crack up! You re-tell it so beautifully!

    Meeks´s last post…My 5 links for the week

  2. Danielle says:

    I tried several natural and/or home-made deodorants for about 6-8 weeks last summer….and ended up with angry, red, crusty underarms. Plus, I felt stinky. I ended up going without any deodorant and without shaving for several days until it cleared up. Not a fun thing to do in the Texas heat!!!

    • Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a superb deodorant. Just use a couple of pinches when still damp after showering. Nothing more complicated needed.

  3. This post just totally made my day – especially the worms:) No specific crazy stories but (as I’m sure you know) I get some SERIOUSLY strange looks and questions when I tell people that we use cloth diapers!

    Lillian´s last post…Confessions of a Clueless First Time Gardener

  4. Oh, yes the yogurt. I was so excited about making my own, which I did and we all gobbled up a LOT of it.

    Only to find out a few weeks later that the increase in dairy was COMPLETELY breaking out my skin! =( I was so disappointed….so no more homemade yogurt for us.


    steadymom´s last post…5 Meaningful After Dinner Rituals You Can Start Tonight & A Special Offer

  5. Those are some pretty funny stories. We had a college friend over a few months ago and I had made an apple pie for dessert. As we were eating and talking I started telling a story about “oh yeah… I was rendering lard the other day and…” He looked up and asked “Are you ma from Little House on the Prairie?”

  6. I did the yogurt thing too… it’s still in my fridge. I think I’m going to share with my dogs. ;)

    Mrs. Money´s last post…Sunday Link Love

  7. Four words. Homemade washable sanitary pads. Never, ever mention them in public.

    Emily´s last post…10 Months

  8. The worm story cracks me up! I had something very similar happen, but it was our new department head (among others) who overheard it. Now when I come in to work, I have silly pictures of worms, chickens (a future project) and bees (another possible future project) taped to my door.

  9. These are so funny! I am going to be laughing all morning.

  10. Very funny!
    Try making homemade yogurt with soy, rice, or almond milk. For starter you can buy a premade yogurt or a vegan dried starter. I don’t do dairy either, but love these options with fresh fruit in the summer.

  11. Hilarious!

    I made homemade soap last year and I was so excited to try it. Unfortunately, I had a really bad reaction to it. My skin broke out in a horrible rash and so did my son’s. It took us a good week to finally get over it and I kept trying to use it thinking that something else was causing the rash.

    Finally my husband said that it just wasn’t going to work out and I should stop forcing it to happen.

  12. There’s always the moments in large groups where someone says loudly, “So, you don’t use shampoo, right?” and everyone does that silent-stare thing. Like with the worms. I find myself muttering and stumbling to prove that, yes, I do take care of myself. (Plus then I think everyone’s inspecting me closely to see if I’m greasy or smelly. Or maybe that’s just me, being paranoid.) Anyways it’s always an awkward moment!

    Nikki (Trexel) Moore´s last post…eating healthy + saving money

  13. I’ve never made any household or personal care products homemade before, but I’ve thought about it. Now I’m not so sure I want to. :) Those are funny stories. Thanks for the tip on the vinegar, I may try that but glad to know what type to use.

  14. I was so gun-ho on the homemade cleaners last year. I did the dish liquid soap and I loved it except I found out that the cost of the ingredients I was using were way over what I have budgeted for. So out went the soap and now that we stop using the dish washer (to see if we can actually save some money by washing dishes by hand). I am now just stick with the home made laundry detergent. And the worms under the sink, I was almost there but the family would not go close to the sink so that was out of the picture as well. :)

    • I just recently read…somewhere…that it actually saves water to use the dishwasher vs hand washing your dishes. Apparently quite a big difference. So we have been using our dishwasher (an energy efficient model less than 2 years old) again. Only running it when it is totally full to be as efficient as possible. But I do worry about that dishwasher soap. Wonder if there is something else more natural that would work in the dishwasher?

  15. When you live in small studio apartments as I often have, you just don’t need so many things. So imagine my frustration as I tried to do the right thing with recycling but struggled to find enough space for 3 containers to do my part for recycling.

  16. Ha, I never knew it was apple cider vinegar. My husband jokes that he loves when my hair smells like salad dressing!

  17. Oh. Oh, the stories I could tell from my earliest days of cloth diapering. Oh my. I’ll refrain though to protect the innocent and the weak. There was some bad though. BAD.

    Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last post…You Tell Me: What’s your dream?

  18. I have to be careful about these sort of things too. My very educated parents still think all green thinking is Hippy…I realize that as a military family in 1967, they are sensitive, but, “Yes Mom, no shampoo doesn’t mean we are moving to a commune….” It cracks me up. They are so green they crunch, just being out on the ranch with hanging dry the laundry and canning food, turning off lights and old fashioned frugality.

  19. I recently started making my own deoderant, which is great, until my husband mentions it to people (like his parents) who look at me like I’m crazy. I’d love for you to do a post on the recipes that you came up with for natural shampoo/conditioner and any other beauty care products. I’ve tried a few and they haven’t worked for me, but I’m on the lookout for ones that will work for me.

  20. I LOVED both this post and your post about being an Earth Club dropout – so me, too! ;)

    My first thoughts when I saw this one were: Well, at least the hawk wasn’t enjoying her egg-laying chickens for lunch. (Followed quickly by…) Oh, no, was it an egg-laying chicken? Poor girl!

    Thanks for sharing your “nasty” photo and your real-life experiences with us!

  21. akward? the first time our sitter wiped DD’s (2 year old) bum in the bathroom and DD insisted on a cloth wiper! “What is she asking for?”

    Cori´s last post…Meadowbrook

  22. I love it! The worms are so going to be me someday. This month it was the dairy products. I’m not much of a dairy eater, and I found myself with a fridge full of kefir, clabbered milk and whey. The dogs have really enjoyed my experiments.

    And my addition to Emily’s four words not to be mentioned in public: menstrual cup.

    Jess @OpenlyBalanced´s last post…The Naturalistic Fallacy

  23. The first time we hosted my husband’s large extended family for Thanksgiving a hawk came to visit. We we oohing and ahhing, until we noticed it had something in its claw . . . and proceeded to tear it to shreds before our very eyes. Nothing beats real-life NG carnage on Thanksgiving. It was quite a spectacle and very similar to your experience! Too funny.

    Erin´s last post…Please Don’t Flee My Blog! What Social Justice Means to Me

  24. Hah, all these stories are great! I’ve got some interesting ones regarding when I switched from tampons to the Diva Cup, but those are better left untold online! Let’s just say it takes awhile to get used to it!

    Kait Palmer´s last post…Condensing

  25. What a funny post. I love the worm conversation… funny thing that would be a normal conversation around here. :) We also got plenty of strange looks when we talked about cloth diapering. Thanks for the smile.

    Jackie Lee´s last post…Living the Law of Attraction and Parenting With It Too!

  26. Three words: cloth toilet paper.

    I love it now but it wasn’t without interesting conversations and some learning curves.

    ~Tara´s last post…Come Take A Ride

  27. Too funny! Thanks for sharing!

    Amy´s last post…Freezer Cooking Day

  28. I enjoyed the post and also enjoying comments. I make tons of decisions that turns out bad, I am afraid it could turn in to a book so I will just say I am work in progress!

    Some mistakes may turn out to be a good decision who knows right?

    Zengirl: Happy Heart and Mind´s last post…7 ways to overcoming overwhelm

  29. Love your stories, and the comments!

    We have a beautiful backyard and last summer I decided to outfit it with bird feeders and bird seed. We started attracting all kinds of beautiful little birds – it was lovely, until one evening a big rat crawled up on our deck and started eating what the birds had spilled!!!!!!!!!! I almost died! I was horrified. Took in all the bird feeders :( Very unsure about what to do this summer. . . .!

  30. I try not to mention how long it has been since I’ve washed my hair these days…

    I’ve also had my share of cooking misfortunes. Thank goodness the dog is not judgemental. :)

    Juice´s last post…Weekend Flotsam and Jetsam

  31. When I was in Junior High, there was a big fuss about using mayonnaise in your hair as conditioner. It wasn’t really in an effort to be green, it was just the new craze. It was suppose to make your hair soft and shiny.

    So, I go home one night and sneak the mayo into the bathroom with me (my mom would totally object if she caught me) and hop in the shower. I wash my hair… and I dip my fingers into the mayo and lather it into my hair.

    Yeah… so as it turns out… mayo is made of oil, and oil makes your hair greasy… not soft.

    It took me several washings to get the oil out of my hair.

    I still don’t know (15 yrs later) if that rumor was a prank, or if I did something wrong.

  32. That reminds me! A few years ago I heard something about using Olive Oil as a natural shampoo and conditioner replacement. So I dumped a fair amount onto my hair…Ugh! I shampooed my hair about 10 times after that only to discover it still hadn’t come out! Hubby still brings that up!
    Then for about a week and a half I tried giving up shampoo. My head was so flaky and greasy I was getting weird looks and worried about losing my job!
    Also in my switch to natural cleaners and shampoos I discovered I am allergic to lavender. I really didn’t expect to have a reaction to something so natural. It’s been a difficult fragrance to avoid.
    I also finally found a natural deodorant that worked for me this winter. I guess I don’t pay much attention though. I went to a friend’s wedding in balmy Arizona and when I went to put on my sleeveless bridesmaid’s dress I noticed I had the brightest rash all around my pits. Thank God for cortisone cream. No, really! It has saved me so many times.
    Like when I tried 100% Shea Butter as a face lotion…Even freaked my doctor out!
    Fun times!

  33. I made homemade laundry detergent – lots and lots of it – about 5 gallons worth. It was very inexpensive and non toxic but.. it does not always get urine smells out of clothes. With a young son who is learning to use the bathroom, we have lots of pee accidents so lots of urine smelling clothes. I thought of putting essential oil into it but I think it would just mask the smell, not actual remove it. So now I have a 5 gallon bucket of laundry detergent that doesn’t work! All I can say is I am just glad it was inexpensive!

  34. I have so many green bloopers I named my blog Condo Blues because they often make me sing the blues until I revamp them and they turn out fine. I tried using natural deoderant and I made me break out in a rash under my arms – not fun. I used a homemade beeswax based lip balm that I had a reaction to and it chapped my lips. *sigh*

    My most spectaluar oops was when I built a compost bin but didn’t drill enough drainage holes in the bottom of it and fed it mostly greens and very little browns. I got a batch of Dog Vomit Slime mold (that’s what it’s called – honest!) instead of compost – ick!

    Condo Blues´s last post…Books as Wallpaper Bathroom Remodel

  35. I read once the cider vinegar was good for clearing up acne so I put it on my acne filled face with abandon… only to burn my entire face because I didn’t dillute it and used it too much :( It took weeks to heal and I was the laughing stock of all my critics of “going more natural”. I haven’t given up though ;o)

    Sarah @ Mum In Bloom´s last post…Recipe: Company Pot Roast

  36. I use white vinegar instead of apple cider and have no problems! Maybe you were using too much?

    Joke´s last post…Here I am!