The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: January 2008

January 31, 2008

A Bittersweet Symphony called D2W

Back in September, I wrote about the plastic AT&T Yellow Pages bag that showed up on my doorstep unsolicited. Here’s the update. I called the Yellow Pages, found out to whom I should write, and sent this letter (PDF file).

Not long afterwards, I actually received a telephone call from Jim Troup, the head of environmental issues for AT&T Yellow Pages. We had a long conversation about plastic bags, Yellow Pages recycling, and different types of degradable bags the company has tried. He told me he is researching alternatives to the plastic bags, and that they actually did an experiment up in Redding, California, with a bag made of a plastic called D2W. He called this plastic “chemo-degradable” rather than “bio-degradable” and said that AT&T was still looking for something fully biodegradable and would let me know when they’d made a decision.

Weeks went by, and I forgot about D2W plastic, until … Read the rest

January 30, 2008

Weekly Recipes: Vegetarian Split Pea Soup and Beet & Cabbage Borscht

I thought I’d start a new weekly recipe post here. I’m realizing that each week when I post my plastic tally, you get to see what foods I consumed that were packaged in plastic, but you don’t get to see all the delicious things I got to have that weren’t. So these posts will focus on the positive aspects of living without plastic and demonstrate that, aside from missing cheese and Haig’s spicy hummus, I’m not really living in deprivation here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a gourmet cook. I’m learning new techniques, but I wasn’t raised on homemade bread or home-canned preserves. I can follow basic recipes and sometimes will simplify them for my own skill level and sanity. In other words, don’t expect Martha Stewart or Crunchy Chicken. Just one person trying to eat basically well while avoiding as much plastic as possible. Here goes.

Last Saturday, I cooked up a big pot of Vegetarian Split Pea … Read the rest

January 29, 2008

Plastic-free Knitting

Knitting is a nice, eco-friendly hobby, right? Well, maybe. But it depends on the tools we choose and the materials we use. (Hey, that rhymes.) For a long time, I’ve been opting for natural fibers over acrylic and other synthetic yarns. But it wasn’t until I decided to knit a hat for one of my co-workers this past December that I really examined the contents of my knitting needle roll and realized just how much plastic I had thoughtlessly purchased while building my stash. And I’m not just talking about the needles themselves, although quite a few of them are made of plastic. Even the wooden needles are sold in plastic packaging.

I created this hat using wooden circular needles, which of course have a plastic cord that connects them. (Have you guessed I’m just looking for an excuse to show off the felted hat I made? Check it out before and after felting.)

Fortunately, I already had the circular needles in my stash and didn’t… Read the rest

January 29, 2008

Oakland Bag Ban + Send a note to Zip Car!

Here are my friend Nancy, a poor seagull, and I at the Oakland plastic bag ban press conference on the steps of City Hall this morning. (I’ve got to do something about my hair soon! I’m starting to look like one of the Partridge Family boys.) It was a beautiful, sunny day: a reprieve from all the rain we’ve been having.

I thought ABC 7’s coverage of the press conference was disappointing.  They really seem to focus on the plastics industry’s arguments against the ban rather than on promoters’ arguments for it. And reusable bags barely get mentioned at all. Oh well.

On the bright side, businesses such as Whole Foods and City Car Share had representatives who spoke in favor of the ban today. Whole Foods, as you’ve probably already heard, is set to eliminate plastic bags in all of its stores by Earth Day this year.

And City Car Share has begun including reusable bags in all of its cars as a service to members.… Read the rest

January 25, 2008

Extra! Extra! Locals needed at Oakland City Hall on Monday!

If you live in the SF Bay Area and have some time free Monday morning, your presence is requested on the steps of Oakland City Hall OR Hearing Room 1, on the first floor of City Hall in case of rain.

Please come with your reusable canvas bags in hand to show support for Oakland’s plastic bag ban, which is being challenged in court by the plastics industry. I will be there with MY canvas bags in hand. It’s great for us as individuals to voluntarily bring our own bags to the store with us. But we also need strong measures from our governments to eliminate the threat to the environment entirely.


Office of Councilmembers Nancy Nadel, District 3 and Jean Quan, District 4


CONTACT:Marisa Arrona, (510) 238-7031Policy Aide to Councilmember


OAKLAND, CA — City … Read the rest

January 24, 2008

Learning To Fix Stuff, Part 2

On January 2, I reported about my broken plastic hairdryer and how I was hoping to fix it during my visit to my electronics technician (not “electrician,” there’s a difference I’m told) dad in Hawaii. Well, I’m happy to report that it’s fixed. He was able to figure out what part was bad and knew just where to go to get a replacement. Then, he also knew how to attach the replacement part once we found it. He’s my hero.

After using a screwdriver to take it apart (which I’d already done in the end of December), you need an ohmmeter or multimeter to test the circuitry. As I was attempting to write this post last night, I realized I didn’t know how to explain how my dad used his multimeter to test the wires. So I asked him to send me an explanation, and this is what he wrote:

Switch the multimeter to measure ohms. (Ω)

Two leads (a ‘hot’ and a ‘common’) attach to the plug, the common… Read the rest

January 23, 2008

Some things about Hawai‘i that have little to do with plastic

I jotted these words in my notebook on the plane yesterday flying home from O‘ahu as Diamond Head receded in the distance, clouds and water took over the view, and a lump started to form in my throat.

My mom and dad lived in Waikiki in the early 60’s, my dad working for the phone company after completing his stint in the navy and my mom having taken a teaching job on the island. Both were recovering from failed first marriages. They met, married, and conceived me. Nine months later, I was born in Maryland, the place to which they moved to raise a family in closer proximity to their parents.

Somehow, although I never actually saw the islands with my own eyes until I was nearly 30 years old, Hawai‘i is inside of me. Maybe it was the Hawai‘ian music my parents played in our house while we were growing up or the photos of my mom performing a hula in her beautiful mu‘umu‘u or their friends from the island who would visit us on the mainland… Read the rest

January 21, 2008

Plastic in Paradise











Yep, even I ended up using plastic in paradise. I tried so hard all day to avoid it. My folks are fast food people, and on a road trip, McDonald’s is the “restaurant” of choice. I filled up my Klean Kanteen with water all day. I avoided plastic straws and cups and wrappers at every stop. Finally towards the end of a day of beautiful views and picking up garbage, I caved in and ordered a sundae at McDonald’s. I thought I was safe. After all, I had my reusable travel utensils, so I wouldn’t need a plastic spoon.

Duh! McDonald’s sundaes come in a plastic cup with a plastic lid. And it’s not like this is a new phenomenom. They’ve been sold this way from the very beginning, late 70’s? Early 80’s? Certainly since I had my very first… Read the rest

January 17, 2008

Two very different Hawaii trips

This weekend, Anna C. of the blog BYOTalk and I will both be in Hawaii. I’ll be in Waikiki kicking back for a few days visiting my parents and getting my blowdryer fixed. No big deal. I’ll continue to blog while I’m away, and I’ll be back on Tuesday.

Anna, on the other hand, will be joining the crew of the Alguita oceanographic research vessel in Hilo for a month-long trip to the North Pacific Gyre to study marine debris concentrations. This is the area of the “Pacific Garbage Patch,” which I’m sure most of you have heard about by now. (If not, please read the article, Plastic Ocean.)

This will be the 8th voyage for the Alguita, and this time the crew plans to “venture further west than ever before, investigating possible concentrations North of Hawaii, and just East of the International Date Line. It may be that the areas of the North Pacific Gyre with the highest concentrations of marine debris have yet… Read the rest

January 17, 2008

Living in a material world

The holiday season has been over for several weeks now. And for several weeks, I’ve been contemplating the complaint we seem to hear every year from social critics bemoaning the rampant materialism of our culture. People, they say, care more about buying new things than they do about caring for each other and the planet. These critics decry the commercialism of Christmas. And while I agree that our society has become dangerously acquisitive, I’m wondering if the solution isn’t for people to become more materialistic rather than less.

If we really were materialistic, wouldn’t we care more for the materials of the world than we do? Wouldn’t we spend more time enjoying the material things that we already have rather than mindlessly consuming more? Wouldn’t we place a higher value on each item with which we come into contact, considering where it’s been and where it will end up when we’re finished… Read the rest