The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: July 2007

July 21, 2007

The soy milk situation: Write to Wildwood!

Send a short note to Wildwood! Read on to find out more!

Well, it’s looking like the only way to buy ready-to-drink refrigerated soy milk without plastic is to spring for the 1-quart carton of Wildwood soy milk. It’s more expensive that way. But the half gallon contains the same plastic spout and cap as the other brands. We’re also buying more packaging when we buy the smaller sizes.

So naturally, I wrote to Wildwood to ask why they feel the need to use a spout and cap on the half gallon cartons, and this is their response on 07/16/07:

The plastic fitment (spout) is mainly used to ensure that bacteria does not enter into the soymilk and cause spoilage. Cartons without the fitment are much more likely to spoil with the folded top once opened. Most consumers also find it more convenient.

“Hmm…” I thought to myself. “Hmm… is there some difference in the spoilage rate between cow’s milk and soy milk?… Read the rest

July 19, 2007

Information and chocolate. I need some sleep!

For weeks I’ve been staying up all night researching plastic, what it does in the environment, alternative products, alternative packaging, etc. etc. etc. I wonder how much having my computer on all night contributes to global warming? Of course, if it weren’t for this project, I’d probably be sitting in front of it watching recorded TV shows all night and playing Spider Solitaire, so I guess this is the lesser of the evils.

But this morning, as I was grabbing yet another plastic-laden frozen entree as I ran out the door because I hadn’t given myself time to prepare anything else, I paused to think about the irony of the situation. And I realized that I don’t have to solve every plastic problem that arises this week or this month. I can slow down and spend some time in my garden. Or get some exercise and start running again. Or just sit and follow my breath.

I’m tired. And I think a lot of other people are tired. So many… Read the rest

July 17, 2007

Containers: Eating & drinking on the go

Over the past few weeks, I’ve come across a few useful products for eating and drinking while out in the world to avoid plastic cutlery and water bottles.

The first is a great stainless steel water bottle called the Klean Kanteen. It’s a little heavier than a plastic bottle, but not by much. And it’s stainless steel, so there are no worries about plastic leaching into the water. There is a bit of plastic on the top of the stainless steel lid, but it’s pretty minimal I think. I bought mine at the Ecology Center in Berkeley yesterday and have been using it all day today. I really like the way it feels. The bottle comes in 4 sizes: 12oz, 18oz, 27oz, & 40oz. I bought the 27 oz bottle, and it fits perfectly into the pocket on the side of my backpack.

Also at the Ecology Center yesterday, I got Michael a stainless steel KFS (knife, fork & spoon) set to carry in his messenger bag. I can’t point you to a web site because I’m … Read the rest

July 17, 2007

Recycled Art: The Panhandle Band Shell

Last week, I went to bed and found this newspaper clipping on my pillow. Michael had left it there for me. Then, a few days later, my friend Sharon e-mailed me the same article. So I knew I had to make a visit to the new Panhandle Band Shell in San Francisco between Oak and Fell near Clayton and see for myself this creation made from plastic water bottles, old car hoods, and computer parts. Here are the photos I took today, as well as one taken of me by some nice guy. Click images to see larger.

I don’t know if the band shell will be there after September. I should have taken my ukulele and made music. Or sung. Well, I sang all the way home from BART today even without a band shell to amplify my sound. The cats in Rockridge are very forgiving. … Read the rest

July 15, 2007

Week 4 Results: Drowning in 13.9 oz of plastic

Michael asked me this week why I felt the need to catalogue every tiny speck of plastic. Does each little cheese wrapper really make a difference?

And in an online discussion group, one of the participants questioned my priorities, saying,

“I sympathize with your frustration… but do you think that plastic wrapping is a core issue, worthy of all your attention? Plastic wrapping accounts for a minor amount of plastic use (though it may be much in your face as a buyer). We have millions of tons of car parts and furniture and trinkets and clothing and so much more being made out of plastic.”

He then went on to say, “Beth, surely working on the larger issue of the zero waste redesign of plastic manufacturing will be more rewarding than removing wrapping on pieces of cheese (where the wrapping at least serves a reasonable function, like it or not).”

These points are quite valid, and if course there are bigger problems in the waste… Read the rest

July 15, 2007

Electronics: Thoughts about RCA, iPhones, & the pursuit of happiness

Thanks to the folks over at Sustainable Is Good for pointing out that RCA plans to save 450 tons of plastic in the next two years by making smaller, environmentally-friendly paper gift box containers to replace the older clamshell packages in an initiative called “Smart Packing,” which they say has already saved over 81 tons of extra plastic.

I applaud this move on RCA’s part, and if I ever need to buy another electronic gadget, I’ll check out RCA-brand first, as well as any other brands that may be switching to similar packaging.

But we can’t forget that the electronics themselves are made of plastic and other non-renewable materials, and we need to ask ourselves before purchasing new electronics if we really need them and if they will really make us happy.

On Friday, June 29, I was walking along Shattuck Ave in downtown Berkeley when I came upon a huge line of people wrapping around the block. It was the kind of line you see at a … Read the rest

July 14, 2007

Tina, eat the plastic food!

Another sleepless night. Another wacky “art” project. Meet Tina. Tina’s tummy is full of plastic bags. And that’s okay, because she’s a fake plastic fish. In fact, her whole body is knitted from plastic bags… from the plastic bag “yarn” ball I made the other night. Click on images to see larger.

And remember, plastic bags are not evil. How can they be? They’re just plastic bags. It’s the overproduction of and disposal of them by humans that causes harm to other living things. So here are a few plastic bags that, for the time being, are just hanging out being a fish called Tina. … Read the rest

July 12, 2007

Danger feared from chemicals getting into bay

From yesterday’s SF Gate:

Danger feared from chemicals getting into bayby Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Chemicals found in household products like antibacterial soap and plastic bottles are found in sewage water that is discharged into San Francisco Bay, posing a threat to wildlife and humans, according to new data.

Sophisticated sewage systems treat biodegradable food, human waste and metals, but they are not designed to capture the thousands of tons of synthetic chemicals used to manufacture consumer products, say officials at the East Bay Municipal Utility District, who found evidence of potentially harmful substances in sewage from businesses and homes.

Chemical ingredients are leaching out of toothpaste, deodorant, canned food liners and vinyl and polycarbonate plastics. They pass through the municipal sewage plants virtually untreated, the experts say.

[...Click the link above to… Read the rest

July 12, 2007

A Quiz

True or False:

1) Plastics that go into a curbside recycling bin always get recycled.

2) Curbside collection will reduce the amount of plastic landfilled.

3) A chasing arrows symbol means a plastic container is recyclable.

4) Packaging resins are made from petroleum refineries’ waste.

5) Plastics recyclers pay to promote plastics’ recyclability.

6) Using plastic containers conserves energy.

7) Our choice is limited to recycling or wasting.

According to the article, “7 Misconceptions about Plastic and Plastic Recycling” on Berkeley’s Ecology Center web site, the answer to all 7 questions is FALSE.

How did you do? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, please read the full article to understand the difficult problems that plastics create. Solving them is more complicated than you might think. … Read the rest

July 11, 2007

Frozen Foods Summary

Most frozen foods contain some plastic. Of course, the ideal way to reduce plastic waste would be to avoid these “convenience” foods altogether. But that’s not always practical. So, here is an ongoing list of the amounts of plastic hidden inside packages of frozen foods.

Feel free to e-mail me info to add to the list, so I don’t always have to find out the hard way. Click the Frozen Foods link on the sidebar to return here in the future.

Last update: 08/12/2007

Frozen Entrees:

Brand: Amy’s KitchenTray: Cardboard tray with inside plastic coatingPlastic Film: Overwrap surrounds the entire tray

Brand: Helen’s KitchenTray: Cardboard tray with inside plastic coatingPlastic Film: Across the top only.

Brand: Michael Angelo’s Italian Natural CuisineTray: #1 PlasticPlastic Film: Across the top only

Brand: Organic BistroTray: Cardboard tray with inside plastic coatingPlastic Film: Across the top … Read the rest