Proud of This, Less So of That

by Katy on January 1, 2010 · 19 comments

Today’s Oregonian newspaper ran an article titled “Oh, the Virtue! Oh no, the sin!” that “asked The Oregonian’s news staff for the best little green habit that actually have  — but also to admit to the ugly little things they wish they could change.” The result was a listing of the different writers’ virtues, such as using the library, vegetarianism, composting and recycling the toilet paper tubes. The sins included such confessions as tossing recyclable containers when filled with rotten food, long hot showers, excessive driving and cranking up of the thermostat.

I really liked this piece, as it highlighted that not one of us is perfect. Yes, we do our best in some areas, but fail miserably in others. We’re all human.

I would like to see what you, the readers have to say on the subject of frugality. What are you proud about, and what are your ugly little things that you splurge on?

Here, I’ll start:

  • I am proud that I’m able to pay so little for clothing, gifts and household items by only shopping at Goodwill.
  • I am proud that my husband has taught himself how to fix the computer, do almost all household repairs and change the oil in our cars by himself.
  • I am proud that I use my clothesline about 95% of the time in the Summer.
  • I am proud that I was able to use my creativity to find a dozen different ways to add money to savings in 2009, without taking even one cent away from our regular income and debt repayment.
  • I am less proud to say that I have been using my electric clothes dryer lately, as our indoor clothesline is in a dark, cold and creepy area of the house. Oregon = cold, wet and dark. (I have however, asked for a nice laundry rack for my birthday which is on Monday.)
  • I am less proud to have sorted through my mending pile, only to find a lot of clothing that that no longer fits my kids.
  • I am less proud to admit that I receive a free public transportation pass through work, and that I have used it exactly three times over the past 14-1/2 years. To buy this new would set me back $900+ per year! Gulp.

Okay now, it’s your turn. What are you proud and less proud about? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

kim January 1, 2010 at 9:35 pm

I am proud that I am purging excess stuff from my life this year. I am proud that I came up with two bags of baby items to sell instead of hoard. I am proud that I took a close look at my Christmas gifts and realized I’d rather stock up on consumables instead of owning another stock pot. I’m proud that I had the guts to ask for receipts! lol

I’m not so proud about the $100ish of baby wool stuff coming my way that I bought a week or so ago. I’m not so proud about my stockpile of food. It isn’t a good deal if it goes bad before you can eat it. I want my food waste to be ZERO.


Andy @ Retire at 40 January 2, 2010 at 12:30 am

I am proud that I’m getting back into the personal finance world. I’m proud that I don’t own a car. I’m proud that I don’t buy many take-aways.

I’m not proud that I still buy the occasional take-away coffee. I’m not proud that I can do better with my food leftovers. I’m not proud that I stopped tracking my spending.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl January 2, 2010 at 3:27 am

What a fun idea! I just might have to borrow it for a blog post (And of course I will link back to you).


Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet January 2, 2010 at 4:45 am

I’m proud that I have been slowly reducing our monthly grocery bill. I am spending about $100 less than I have in the past. I am not so proud that I seem to forget my re-usable bags when I go to the grocery store.

I too am proud that I hang my clothing outside about 95% of the time from about mid-April until late Sept, but I am not so proud that my dry runs consistently all winter long. I just don’t know where to go with all of those clothes in the winter.

I am proud of our rain barrel in the summer time, but I need to take better care of it in the off season.

I am proud that I am making the switch to green cleaners. I am not so proud that I am using up my chemical cleaners because I just hate to ‘waste’ them.

Happy New Year!


Jinger January 2, 2010 at 5:35 am

I am proud of living large on little! I have a very small income, yet a cozy inviting apartment overlooking a nature park only 5 minutes from downtown Austin! I am proud I take advantage of all freebies in my city…natural spring fed neighborhood pools, greenbelt walking trails everywhere, free museum days, festivals and on and on. I am proud I recycle in many ways…bins, reusing and donating items to the Children’s Museum for crafts. I’m proud I clean mainly with vinegar. I’m proud I can turn bits of nothing into something beautiful with my crafting.

In 2010 I plan to conserve more water…the billing system for our water is outrageous in my complex and it will take a conscious effort for me to reduce my consumption and thus my bill.


shymom January 2, 2010 at 7:36 am

I am proud that our 32 gallon trash can that used to be full is now down to a 20 gallon one that is usually 2/3 full or less. Not so proud that most of what is in it is used cat litter.

I am also not so proud that I recently bought a bottle of body wash. It was free that is why I couldn’t resist. I have been trying to eliminate all nonessential plastic from our lives, and body wash is about as nonessential as you can get.

I am proud of my compost piles and my worm bins. Not so proud as to how my gardens came out last summer.


Cate January 2, 2010 at 8:28 am

I’m proud that I strive to serve only humane meat and eggs on our table, plus as much organic dairy and produce as possible. I’m proud that I bake my own bread. I’m proud that we recycle and compost. I’m proud that we use cloth diapers and wipes, and are transitioning our cats to pine litter instead of regular clumping litter.

I’m less proud that I take a hot bath every morning, still use body products with sulfates because they’re what I’m used to and like, and don’t buy used nearly as much as I’d like to.


Lisa January 2, 2010 at 11:24 am

I’m pleased that we compost, garden, dry and can foods, bake, cook 99% of our meals, sew,crochet, fix it ourselves, use clotheslines year round, make our own cleaning products and laundry soap, buy used when possible, and walk frequently. In 2010 I’d like to develop the habit of daily exercise, install a rain barrel or cistern, build a root cellar, lower my cholesterol, pay off old debts, and spend more time in meditation.


Marie-Josée January 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I’m proud we buy mostly organic, washed our babies’ diapers, compost, recycle, use biodegradable personal care and cleaning products, recycled and non-bleached toilet paper, use reusable bags, donate to Greenpeace, Unicef, Centraide and Médecins sans frontières. I’m proud we are paying for our children’s education, own a 2003 Corolla, are members of a car sharing coop and a housing coop. I’m proud we try to buy used first.
I’m not proud that we don’t budget and spend too much. We both have job related retirement plans, but we should be saving and aren’t. I’m not proud that we eat out a lot, and buy take-out once a week, which creates a lot of waste. I’m not proud that we still waste a lot of food and that we spend way too much in that area. We plan on trying the Eat to Live eating plan, which is mostly veggies and fruits, legumes plus one cup of good carbs. You are allowed 150 calories a day of anything you like (meat, dairy, chocolate….) once you have reached your target weight (for those of us who need to lose weight). I’m not proud of being overweight. Now I think of those thousands of calories and of all the people who are hungry in the world and I feel really ashamed. I’m doing the plan to lose weight and because being vegetarian makes a real impact on the environment, my family is joining in to support me and for the their health and the health of our planet. Fridays and Saturdays will not be Eat to Live, as we want to have a social life. I’m not proud we use paper towels, even if they are the recycled non-bleached type. I’m not proud I buy one take-out coffee every single day in a disposable cup.


Wendy January 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm

I am proud that we recycle, compost, and avoid food waste. I am also proud that we buy our clothes second hand and we raise our own chicken and eggs. I am proud that we purchase all of our beef and pork from a local organic farmer. This year we plan to grow all of our own vegetables.

I am not proud that we use a lot of energy and water in the home. We need to cut back on our excessive usage in the areas of lights, thermostat, and laundry washes.


VoluntarySimplicity January 2, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Great Post, Katy… Here it goes:
I’m proud to have finally made the transition from vegetarian to vegan a couple of months ago and I’m proud that my eating finally aligns with my beliefs. I’m proud that we keep the thermostat at 58 degrees and that I’ve learned how to layer my clothes and deal with a little chill in the air. I’m proud that I no longer work 60+ hours a week and know I never want to work that much again. I’m proud that I exercise and take care of myself. I’m proud that I’ve cut down on my consumption and that I’ve vowed to do the compact again, even if I’m only starting with a one-month commitment. I’m proud that I devote some of my time to working with kids who really need the love and support I have to give. I’m proud of the fact that I donate a lot to charity.

I’m not-so-proud of the fact that we don’t compost and that we don’t recycle everything that we can. I’m not-so-proud of the fact that I drive too much and don’t ride my bike when I maybe could. I’m also not-so-proud of the fact that I stopped tracking my spending and that I have a lot of student loan debt and that I don’t give as much to charity as I know I could. And I’m not-so-proud of the fact that I don’t volunteer and I bought too many new clothes and books this last year and that I went to Wal-Mart three times even though I told myself years ago I’d never go there again.

I could go on and on, but this definitely got me thinking…


Shannon January 2, 2010 at 5:53 pm

I am proud that we’ve kept our thermostat at 65 this winter, that we compost and garden, that we recycle and keep our trash waste very low, and that I bought zero Christmas wrapping or decor “stuff” this year.

I’m not so proud that we served what can only be described as a grossly excessive array of foods for Christmas, part of which went to waste, that since it’s been cold I’ve been chucking the food waste into the trash instead of putting my boots on and carrying it to the compost heap, and driving the kid to and from school even when the weather’s been good because I really wanted us to be walking every day.


Tracy Balazy January 2, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I don’t eat meat, and I bring my cloth bags to the grocery store, the thrift store and garage sales (I don’t shop retail), and my own mug to the coffee shop, but I have incandescent bulbs in four desk/bedside lamps in the house.


The Compact UK January 3, 2010 at 4:29 am

This is a fab idea, and fun to read, thank you for being so honest. I will try to be as honest on my blog and link back to you 🙂


J. January 3, 2010 at 8:48 am

I am proud that I made most of my own Christmas gifts this year (handmade pajamas, quilts, etc) and that I also made reusable cloth gift bags to “wrap” them in. I am proud of our home’s garden, clothesline, and relatively low energy use. I am proud that we make almost all of our meals from scratch, use the library weekly,shop at second hand stores for some clothing and household items, and volunteer at a homeless shelter once a week serving hot meals.

Not proud of the amount of garbage we still manage to throw away, namely plastic packages that aren’t recyclable. Also, I have not yet come up with a palatable way to do away with the plastic bags I use for picking up dog poop when I walk our dogs.



Maniacal Mommy January 3, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I am proud that I have stuck with my drying racks and cloth diapers. I am proud that I keep our thermostat as low as we can (keeping our infant in mind, of course). I am proud that I almost always remember my cloth grocery bags.

I am not proud that I still use disposable diapers at night, or that I cave into my husband’s requirement that we have baby wipes not just for the diaper bag. I wish I wouldn’t cave in to the kids’ desires for Happy Meals.

I also bought my first new purse in ten years, with matching wallet. It was on sale, and I had a coupon. But normally I get my purses from the thrift store for a buck, few and far between. I knew I didn’t need it, but I really wanted it. Knowing that I will probably carry it for twelve years, like my last brand new purse, made me feel a little better. It still seems ostentatious to me, and I cannot imagine how people can spend thousands of dollars on a purse when I cannot spend $32 and not feel irresponsible.


Sam Jones January 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I’m proud that I’ve reduced our garbage waste from 42 bags in 2006 slowly down to 25 in 2009. I’m proud that we’re vegetarians, grow and put up most of our own food, don’t own a dryer or a dishwasher, use flow restrictors and florescent bulbs thruout the house. We recycle absolutely everything we can, compost any garden or food waste, and give the chickens our leftovers (if there are any!) I’m proud we buy our staples in bulk, and make our own dandruff rinse, soaps, household cleaners and laundry detergents. I’m proud too that we heat exclusively with wood and have never cut down a live tree to do that. And finally, I’m very proud of the Voluntary Simplicity group that we started in our town 6 years ago, as well as the monthly enewsletter that we send out to 200 readers. And I’m proud that I stuck to the compact in 07 and intend to again in this year.

I’m not so proud of the fact that we still shop at Walmart sometimes, but proud of the fact that we use cloth bags when we do go there. I’m not so proud of the fact that we still have to use our car to go anywhere, because we have no public transport here, but we maintain our 10 year old car well and have finally gotten into a pattern of only running errands one day a week. Most weeks. Not having kids at home anymore allows this to be a reality though. I’m not proud either of the stuff I tend to hoard: food, TP, basics. Some old habits die hard I’m afraid.


Heidi January 4, 2010 at 10:20 am

I am proud that I have a ton of reusable “green bags” for groceries, and that I remember to use them pretty much all the time. I am not so proud that I only remember about half the time to bring back the plastic bags to put fresh produce in, and re-use them.

I am proud that my grocery spending in 2009 ended up a bit less than $100/week for a family of 4 (about $1,000 less than I spent in 2008). I am not so proud that I totally blew it in December, and spent as much on food in the last two weeks of the year as I did in the previous three months. Chalk it up to houseguests and holiday festivities. Note to self: Next year, do better menu-planning and shop ahead rather than leaving it to the last minute.

I am proud that I use my drying rack 95% of the time, year-round (pellet stove makes for nice drying in winter). I am not so proud that I have not yet switched from store-bought cleaning products to greener alternatives like baking soda and vinegar.


Melymbrosia January 17, 2013 at 5:59 pm

I’d like to thank the author and all commentors for their beautiful humanity and honesty in the article and comments. I know this was written a couple of years ago but of course it’s as relevant as ever. Reading all your lovely replies has got me a bit teary at how beautiful and honest so many people are. Thanks everyone!


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