The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: September 2007

September 30, 2007

Week 15 Results: 3.4 oz of plastic

I really got the plastic down this week, thanks in part to Tess’s Trash Challenge, which ended for me yesterday. Here are the final results of the trash challenge, as well as links to the interview that Tess did with me.

And here’s the weekly plastic tally:

Non-recyclable items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began:

9 Refresh Endura single-use eye drop containers (#4 plastic). 1 Act fluoride rinse cap and neck wrapper. See below.

Recyclable items purchased before the plastic project began:

1 Act fuoride rinse bottle (#3 plastic). I sent an e-mail to Chattem, Inc., the company that makes this product asking why they use #3 (PVC) plastic for their bottles. PVC is one of the worst types of plastic. They responded that new Act bottles are being made from #1 (PETE), which is a much more benign plastic. I checked out a bottle at the drugstore and confirmed this to be true. I’m down to my last bottle and still have to decide… Read the rest
September 29, 2007

Weekend radio: Trash Challenge Interview

Wednesday, I had a phone interview with Tess Vigeland of NPR’s Marketplace. You know, Tess from the Trash Challenge. Today, her radio segment on the Trash Challenge included pieces from our interview. You can listen to it or read the transcript here:

Lessons from the trash challenge

The interview was quite a bit longer and included stuff about composting and why I decided to participate in the Trash Challenge to begin with. You can listen to (almost) the full interview here:

Trash Challenge: Into the Dustbin of History

Also, from the Marketplace web site:

“Be sure to tune into all the programs of American Public Media in November for a special project called “Consumed.” We’ll be airing an entire week’s worth of stories and interviews about America’s consumer culture and whether it’s sustainable.

“On Marketplace Money we’ll be devoting our entire show the weekend of November… Read the rest

September 27, 2007

Of Coffee, Crayons, & Crackling Firelogs

I had a very nice conversation today with Doug Farquhar, president of a company called Renovos, which specializes in helping businesses come up with waste-reduction strategies. But their most heart-warming green project is ReJavanate bags. These are reusable tote bags that are made out of recycled burlap coffee sacks. They are manufactured by workers from The Arc, an organization that helps find housing and employment for people with developmental disabilites. These bags are both environmentally and socially responsible.

Currently, ReJavanate bags are made from coffee sacks from Boyd’s Roasters in Portland which are shipped to a workshop in Hood River to be cut and sewn. They are then sent to ReJavanate where they are printed, either with the ReJavanate logo or an organization’s custom logo, using soy inks.

Doug sent me a bag to try out. It’s definitely lighter than a canvas bag. For me, the burlap is a little scratchy,… Read the rest

September 26, 2007

Think Outside The Bottle: The World Water Challenge

Pretend you’re walking down a street in Oakland, and I just handed you a flyer. This is what it says:

Corporate Accountability International’s Think Outside The Bottle CampaignThe World Water Challenge

Do you care about your right to water?

Join us in our campaign to ask mayor Dellums of Oakland to take a public stand in favor of our municipal water systems and to cancel all of his bottled water contracts by December 2007.

Wednesday, October 3rd7:30pmMalonga Casquelord Center for the Arts (Formerly Alice Arts Center)1428 Alice Street, Oakland, CA 94612Refreshments Provided.

Please RSVP Rachael or call (510) 809-7353

So will you come?

Here’s the background. At the end of Loni Hancock’s Forum On The Health Of San Francisco Bay last Thursday, I met Rachael Goodyer of Corporate Accountability International, a group organizing citizens to press mayors across the country to cancel their cities’… Read the rest

September 25, 2007

Wait! Are you sure that’s recyclable?

Since I started this project, I’ve run across many misconceptions (including my own) about what is and isn’t recyclable. What makes the issue so confusing is that every city has its own rules about what can and can’t be placed in curbside bins. Some areas require more separation of recyclables than others. Even among a few environmental activists I’ve met, there is confusion about recycling. If they can’t figure it out, how is the average person supposed to? So, here are a few clarifications about recycling that might help: A triangular “chasing arrows” recycling symbol on an item, especially a plastic one, does not mean that it can be recycled! Many, many people make this mistake. The number inside the triangle simply indicates what type of plastic the item is made from and may sometimes be helpful in determining which plastics are and are not recyclable. BUT NOT ALWAYS! For example, my city of Oakland… Read the rest

September 24, 2007

Misc: Temescal Tabling, Environmental Ethics, & Plastic Pick Up

Yesterday morning, Terry from Green Sangha joined me at the Temescal Farmer’s Market to educate the public about plastic. This time, the information was supplemented by a beautiful display, courtesy of the Marin Chapter of Green Sangha. Please click the top image to see the details of the display. We only had it for this weekend, and now it will have to go back to Marin where it normally lives.

We also handed out resusable cloth produce bags, asking a $2 donation to reimburse Green Sangha’s cost for purchasing the bags. These bags are great for produce because they are thin and lightweight and when dampened, will keep produce fresh in the refrigerator. It was interesting to see how many people who initially refused the bags, saying that they had their own totes, changed their minds when we explained that the totes are great but we’re concerned about the plastic produce bags that fill up the totes.

It was nice to see that some people … Read the rest

September 23, 2007

Week 14 Results: 5.3 oz of plastic.

The theme for this week is, “Surprise!” So many unexpected plastic incidents. Here’s the weekly tally:

Non-recyclable items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began: 7 Refresh Endura single-use eye drop containers (#4 plastic).

1 wrapper from a box of Refresh Endura eye drops.

1 plastic/foil bag from an HP Ink Cartridge #10. I really wish I had been more environmentally-minded when I bought my behemoth of a printer. Surely there’s got to be a machine that uses less energy and less ink. I wasn’t even being frugal, as these ink cartridges are proprietary and therefore can’t be refilled by anyone but HP. I print very little these days, opting to save files on the computer rather than printing them out.

Recyclable items purchased before the plastic project began: 1 HP Ink Cartidge #10. See above. This cartridge can be recycled by returning it to HP. It sucks that I can’t refill and use… Read the rest

September 21, 2007

Weekend Challenge: Pick Up Some Plastic

As I walked around my neighborhood today doing errands (I don’t go to work most Fridays), I noticed a lot of trash, mostly plastic, along the sidewalks and in the gutters. And with that photo of the dead albatross whose stomach is full of plastic pieces burned into my brain these days, it’s physically hard for me not to reach down and start picking it up.

I wrote about “eco-running” in the beginning of August, where runners carry bags and pick up trash on the route. And Scott from Least Footprint set up a Google Group called PUP (Pick Up Plastic) Brigade to organize folks to pick up plastic in their neighborhoods.

I picked up a lot of plastic today (bottle caps, plastic bags, drink lids, straws, snack bags, even the face plate from a cell phone and a toothbrush) and used one of the dirty plastic bags I picked up to carry it all and dump it in the trash. And yes, I washed my hands afterwards! I know I’ve said I don’t like to throw… Read the rest

September 20, 2007

Mixed Messages: Assemblywoman Hancock’s Forum on the Health of San Francisco Bay

Last night, I attended a public meeting called “Troubled Waters: A Forum on the Health of the San Francisco Bay.” Along with Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, who presented the forum, the panel consisted of Harold Gilliam, a journalist; David Lewis, the executive director of Save The Bay; Shin-Roei Lee, chief of the SF Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board’s South Bay division; and Dejal Choksi, staff attorney for Baykeeper. They presented information about sources of pollution in the bay, the largest of which is urban runoff, which brings huge quantities of wildlife-harming plastic trash, motor oil, pesticides, and other contaminants into our waterways. A Water Board pilot study found an average of three pieces of trash along every foot of Bay Area streams.

While I appreciated the thought that went into presenting these speakers to us, I was more struck by the irony of what I saw when I first stepped through the auditorium … Read the rest

September 19, 2007

Tess’s Trash Challenge

I just read tonight on the Californians Against Waste web site that Tess Vigeland, of American Public Media’s Marketplace Money, is carrying the trash she generates for two weeks in order to raise awareness of America’s throw-away society.

Read About Tess’ Trash Challenge.

Vigeland is challenging Americans to carry with them all their waste for two weeks. I have decided to sign up for the challenge starting tomorrow (Thursday). I know I’m already documenting my plastic waste, but it will be instructive to see how much non-recyclable non-plastic waste I’m also generating. Hopefully not much at all. And hopefully this will encourage me to to a better job avoiding paper napkins and paper towels and make sure that anything that can be composted is composted.

Here are Tess’s rules for the challenge:

No kitty or doggie poo (it’s a health risk) No carrying into restaurants or malls where I could get kicked… Read the rest