Archive for November, 2007

November 30, 2007

Quest for Questions

I got an e-mail today from a new reader who wanted the answers to some basic questions: What’s the goal of Fake Plastic Fish? Why am I doing this? When does the project end? What’s been the most difficult lifestyle change I’ve had to make so far?

I realize that unlike EnviroWoman’s plastic-free blog, Fake Plastic Fish’s goals have been less clearly defined, mainly because as I stated at the outset, this is a place for me to learn and to share what I learn with others. In the beginning, I really had no idea how much plastic I was consuming or how much I’d be able or willing to give up.

Anyway, it just so happens that I was thinking of writing up a FAQ for people who are new to this blog, so the reader’s questions came at a perfect time. As I mentioned a few days ago, Blogger’s capabilities don’t allow me to make the site as easy to navigate as I’d like, so I think a page answering basic questions would … Read the rest

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November 29, 2007

Holiday gifts and Mindfulness at the Movies

I’m being inundated with articles about “greening” your holidays. Smugly, I thought I had my holiday gift-giving plans all figured out. The season is fairly simple in our house since we don’t have children (although we may have kitties by Christmas!) and both of us are non-religious. That said, we do have families and friends with whom we exchange some gifts, nieces and nephews. And they are spread out across the country, so there’s a lot of transportation involved in sending gifts.

Perusing the multitude of green gift guides I’ve received so far (The Green Life Holiday Gift Guide from the Sierra Club is a great summary!), I kept coming across the idea of sending gift certificates for events rather than tangible presents that have to be wrapped and will eventually end up as waste, not to mention the fuel used for shipping them. Gift certificates sounded like a great idea to me. Specifically, movie tickets.… Read the rest

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November 28, 2007

MySpace, my Blog, my Face, and my friend Red.

04/07/09 Update: Well, I’ve had this MySpace account for a year and a half, so I think I’ve given it a good shot. Didn’t work out. More annoying than helpful. So I closed it tonight. I much prefer Facebook.

Every time I talk to my friend Red about my blog, he asks me why I don’t get a MySpace page. “Feh!” I answer. “Feh!” Not because I think MySpace is a terrible thing. But because I don’t like not being able to format my site exactly the way I want it to look. And because I’ve seen so many fugly looking MySpace profiles. And because I can’t control the advertising on there.

Well, tonight I finally caved in and did it. So I don’t have a great post about plastic today because I spent all of my blogging time creating my MySpace page. It’s at http://www.myspace.com/fakeplasticfish. Red says anyone who wants to draw an audience to their site nowadays has got to have a MySpace page.… Read the rest

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November 27, 2007

Store Report: The Thing About Costco…

In last week’s post about tips for shopping at Safeway and other mainstream chain grocery stores, I mentioned that one way to save plastic is to buy large-sized containers. Sunny commented that for that reason, maybe shopping at Costco is not so bad. So tonight, I visited Costco with my camera to see if we really could save plastic by buying large containers there.

What I found is that yes, if you don’t have access to a store with bulk bins, you can buy large bags of rice or beans or large containers of laundry detergent or ibuprofen and save some plastic. But the thing about Costco is that most of the merchandise is not packaged in large single containers. In fact, if you’re not careful, you could end up with way more plastic from Costco than you would otherwise. For one thing, most “bulk” purchases are actually plastic-wrapped bundles of smaller items:

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It doesn’t help to buy products in plastic containers that are

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November 25, 2007

Week 23 Results: 3.5 oz of plastic

Yay! The total weight’s back down again. But my plastic still doesn’t fit in the palm of my hand. Maybe this week coming up?

Before I get on with the tally, here is a PVC update and a local Deal Alert:

First, the PVC update: As you know, I found four bottles in my house made from PVC a couple of weeks ago and had determined to find out if the products are still being bottled in PVC or not. The hair gels are, so I sent them back to the company with a letter. No response yet. I can’t find the La Paila dulce de leche sauce in any stores around here (I think it was a close-out item at Grocery Outlet) so I’ve sent an e-mail to the manufacturer asking if the product is still bottled in PVC. And today, during my travels, I found Sun Luck toasted sesame seeds at Piedmont Grocery in a #5 polypropylene container. Since this company has already made the switch, I won’t bother sending the container back. Instead, it goes in my hazardous waste stash (per… Read the rest

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November 24, 2007

What’s wrong with this picture?

Out for a nice stroll, buying nothing yesterday, Michael and I were dismayed to see Telegraph Avenue lined with plastic bags full of brown leaves. What’s wrong with that? Everything!

Our city councilwoman, Jane Brunner, has been working on getting more trees planted along our streets. Do more trees mean more garbage for the landfill? This beautiful compostable material gets sealed up in a plastic bag to mummify with the rest of the garbage instead of being returned to the soil to nourish new trees? If that’s the case, someone’s not using their noggin.

I’m going to call the city on Monday and get to the bottom of this. Oakland ought to be handing out compostable leaf bags and hauling them to our commercial composter. Well, I rescued one bagful for my personal compost. Any other Oaklanders could do the same. Even if you don’t have your own composter, you could free the leaves from the plastic and empty them into your green… Read the rest

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November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! Buy local; buy handmade; or buy nothing!

Yes, I can criticize Safeway, but I’m still sucked in by their advertising. This billboard has been all over town in the past couple of weeks, so I decided I just had to try making pumpkin soup in a pumpkin shell to bring for Thanksgiving this year.

I waited until the last minute, and then couldn’t find a big enough pumpkin last night at Berkeley Bowl or Whole Foods. So I thought, “Hmm… Safeway’s the one advertising the soup in the pumpkin. They must have the right sized pumpkin.” Turns out, Safeway didn’t have any pumpkins at all. And when I asked a clerk where the pumpkins were, he gave me a really funny face and said, “Lady, Halloween’s been over!”

“I know Halloween’s over,” I protested, “but tomorrow’s Thanksgiving! You don’t have pumpkins for pumpkin pie?”

“Oh! You want the pumpkin in the can!” he exclaimed.

How could … Read the rest

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November 21, 2007

Store Report: Struggling with plastic at Safeway

I am really fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area with stores like Rainbow Grocery and Berkeley Bowl that sell so many foods in bulk bins without any packaging at all. It would be much harder to live plastic-free without these kinds of stores. So I thought I’d take an aisle-by-aisle tour of my local Safeway to see how I’d minimize my plastic consumption if I had no other place to shop. The exercise was enlightening.

I planned to write this post in the same way, as an aisle-by-aisle assessment of Safeway’s offerings and how to shop there while consuming the least plastic possible. But writing the post that way became so tedious tonight, I just had to stop. You don’t need me to tell you what products are on the shelves of Safeway. Anyone who shops there can see for themselves. But there are some important principals to keep in mind when shopping at any mainstream grocery store, so I’ll list those, as well as a few other… Read the rest

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November 20, 2007

Recycling part 5: Only in San Francisco

Continuing my visits to SF bay area waste facilities, I took a tour yesterday of the San Francisco MRF (material recovery facility, aka recycling center) and San Francisco “dump.” What I saw looked pretty much the same as at Davis Street and CWS, so I won’t bore you with more photos of sorting machines and baled materials. Instead, I’ll sum up the experience with this little video I put together showing both operations, the clean and the stinky. This video is more detailed than the one I made of the CWS operation:

What you don’t see in this video, what San Francisco has that other recycling and garbage facilities lack (besides being a whole lot bigger) is an artist in residence! Yep, you heard me. San Francisco Dump has an Artist in Residence program. Artists get space at the dump and access to whatever materials they want to use for three-month periods.

Friday night, Michael and I attended a presentation of the SF Dump … Read the rest

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November 19, 2007

Week 22 Results: 10.2 oz of plastic

We’re getting a cat! Okay, I’ll get on with the weekly tally. But keep in mind, we’re getting a cat!

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

5 Refresh Endura single-use eye drop containers (#4 plastic).

Cap & sprayer from a can of CHI Infra Texture Hair Spray. As I mentioned last week, I tried to make my own hairspray out of lemons and vodka, which didn’t work too well. I don’t need hairspray very often, but it would be nice to find an alternative.

1 spray pump from a spray can that had become completely corroded. The can was metal and had rusted through. Now what can I do with the plastic sprayer?

1 piece of clear packing tape.

1 broken juicer top. This plastic juicer sat atop a glass jar that is now broken. I have another juicer, so I don’t need this one, although it could still be used atop any glass container. Anyone want it? I’ll send it to you!

1 16-oz bottle and … Read the rest

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