The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: October 2007

October 31, 2007

Broken CFLs: a Scary Halloween Story

Happy Halloween. After reading nearly twenty articles this past month on how to “green” your Halloween, Michael and I have decided to skip it altogether this year and opt for a nice Ethiopian dinner out with friends. That solves our problem of finding plastic-free Halloween treats to hand out. None. Of course, if you were hoping I’d post my solutions for a plastic-free Halloween, I’ve let us all down! Oh well… there’s always next year. Feel free to post your own solutions to the Halloween greed-fest in the comments.

In the meantime, continuing with the global warming/energy conservation theme this week, and needing to provide a little Halloween scare, I thought I’d share some information I just discovered.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we had bought a package of Phillips CFLs from Costco (in the days when we weren’t being careful about plastic) and had such a hard time getting them out of the … Read the rest

October 30, 2007

Smart Strips are REALLY smart!

So, at the end of my gloomy post yesterday (yes, I was a little depressed) I said I’d write about some things we’ve done here at Chez Terry/Stoler to save energy. Most of it is either stuff you’ve probably heard a million times (use CFLs instead of incandescent bulbs, use a programmable thermostat, use cold water to wash clothes, open the drapes during the day and close them at night, turn off lights when leaving a room, turn off the computer at night and while out of the house.) Other measures are things I’ve already written about here: not owning a car and buying carbon offsets for the few times we travel by plane or Flexcar, buying very few new things in general and opting for products with the least packaging, buying as locally as possible to avoid transportation energy costs. Other things, like buying energy-saving appliances or renovating our house are not options for us because we rent.

Another energy-saving measure that… Read the rest

October 30, 2007

Why I don’t talk about global warming

Nearly every “green” blog and web site these days focuses on global warming. And it seems like many of them focus on it to the exclusion of all other environmental issues. In fact, a few days ago, I read something that made me feel really sad. Alan Morton wrote in an article on the blog, Big Green Challenge:

George Marshall of COIN wrote a provocative piece about whether re-using plastic bags and other small actions are helpful when it comes to doing something meaningful about climate change.

See Guardian and his blog.

Now he is right to point out that re-using bags has a very small effect on overall carbon use. He acknowledges that there may be other benefits – a few turtles won’t die as a result of confusing plastic bags in the sea for jellyfish.

So can we consign the idea of re-using bags and similar “simple tips” to the recycling bin? And chastise the Government and anyone else who promote them for diverting us from… Read the rest

October 27, 2007

Rethinking Plastics

No, I’m not rethinking whether or not to buy or use plastic. That’s just the title of the class I started tonight through Green Sangha. During the course, we not only learn a lot about plastic, its properties and problems, but also the best ways to present the issue to others. Next week, we’ll have a special guest chemist who can explain the science behind different plastics. Having received one of the only D’s of my life in this subject, I really need this one!

What I was left with tonight was the Green Sangha principle that everyone does the best they can with the knowledge they have. In presenting the history of plastic, Stuart Moody, the instructor, said some very nice things about some of the inventors of early plastic, praising the developers of Tupperware and saying they were people we’d enjoy having over for dinner. They didn’t know what problems their products would cause in the long run. If they had known,… Read the rest

October 25, 2007

Think outside the Biota bottle

Marika sent me an e-mail a few days ago asking what I thought of the new Biota water, which is the first water bottled in a compostable corn-based bottle. This issue is probably moot because according to Biota’s site, the company is out of business, having been “stomped To Death By UPS Capital, A Division of United Parcel Service, one of the World’s Largest contributors to Global Warming.” However, a note at the bottom of this announcement suggests that Biota water may be granted a second life, and if not Biota, surely another company will takes its place. So I think it’s important for me to explain why I would not buy this “planet friendly” beverage which was all the rage at the 79th ACADEMY AWARDS and was even chosen as a sponsor for the Hollywood Premiere of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”

According to the company, what makes Biota so green is its bottle. It’s made from NatureWorks… Read the rest

October 24, 2007

Learning to share (and borrow)

This weekend, I had a conversation with my dad about what to do with certain possessions if he rented out their condo in Hawaii. “I’d have to store a lot of books,” he said. And it got me realizing that one of the best ways to reduce our consumption, plastic and otherwise, is through borrowing and sharing items that we don’t need access to on a regular basis.

I understand his attachment to books. They are part of his identity. And for English major me, some books do have sentimental value. But the majority of the books that I read do not. For a while, I was buying used books and then Freecycling them. But then Michael got his library science degree, and suddenly the idea of borrowing rather than owning became an option I hadn’t considered since elementary school. So now, when I want to read something, I try to borrow it from the library or from a friend before thinking about whether I want to purchase it.

But libraries are not just… Read the rest

October 19, 2007

Creeping around the kitchen on Pacific Time

Up early this morning because of the 3-hour time difference, I had nothing better to do than snoop through my parents’ cupboards and refrigerator forgaging for food. Determined to get through this trip somewhat plastickly unscathed, I’ll have to stick to a banana, a glass of water, and a piece of my sister Fran’s homemade apple pie until she arrives later today with unpackaged food for making dinner.

Here’s how my dad feels about the whole plastic reduction project. And yeah, that’s his middle finger in the corner:

And here are a few more choice finds:

I’m not picking on my family. They are not so different from most Americans. They like convenience. And now that my parents are retired, they would rather use disposable tableware to avoid having to wash dishes. Plastic cutlery, styrofoam ice cream bowls, styrofoam or paper plates…. My dad seems to understand the problems of plastic, but I think he feels… Read the rest

October 17, 2007

The Penguin: on again, off again

I’m leaving for Maryland in a few hours to visit my family, bond with the siblings and parental units, and perhaps casually mention my birthday wish list (in case they wanted to get started saving up a few months in advance.) Because I saw the cutest thing online, and it’s the first real luxury item I’ve desired in a long time…

Is this not the cutest thing ever? Okay, the creature on the right is a real penguin. He’s not on my list. The creature on the left is a Penguin Carbonator from Soda Stream. Unfortunately, he might not be on my list anymore either. But before I tell you why he’s off, let me tell you about why he was on in the first place. Besides the fact that he’s so cute.

The Penguin carbonates your own tap water so you don’t have to buy soda in disposable bottles. The Penguin comes with two reusable glass carafes with fizz-preserving stoppers, instead of plastic bottles like other carbonators. The… Read the rest
October 16, 2007

Sending things back…

You’ve heard of paying it forward? This post is about sending it back. And no, I’m not talking about that mean thing that sport fishermen do. I’m referring to unwanted plastic that shows up my my doorstep unsolicited. I’ve decided that in addition to e-mailing or sending a letter to the company, I’m just going to ship it right back to them! So here are a few things I’ve sent back this week:

As many of you know, I’ve been having no luck finding plastic-free cheddar cheese here in the Bay Area. (And no, I haven’t found a deli that will wrap it in plain paper that is not lined with plastic.) Yet cheese is one of the few things I’m not willing to give up. So I decided that I would put my eco-energy into purchasing good quality local organic cheese from happy cows that graze on pasture, rather than hormones, antibiotics, and corn (organic or not); and allow it to be one of my few plastic indulgences. That said,… Read the rest

October 15, 2007

Recycling Tyvek: Another small way to deal with plastic at work (and home)

Disclaimer: This post is NOT an endorsement of DuPont Tyvek. DuPont Tyvek is plastic. According to DuPont, it is “very fine fibers of 100 percent high-density polyethylene that are randomly distributed and nondirectional. These fibers are first flash spun, then laid as a web on a moving bed before being bonded together by heat and pressure – without the use of binders, sizers or fillers.”

All the items down the left side of the page are products in my house made from DuPont Tyvek. I mention Tyvek because many people don’t realize it’s actually plastic and may try and recycle it with their paper. And for those of us trying to reduce our plastic use, it’s important to be aware of anything that is made from plastic.

But what makes Tyvek difficult to avoid is that many Tyvek products come to us unsolicited, especially at work. We might receive Priority Mail and Federal Express deliveries in Tyvek envelopes. CDs might… Read the rest