The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: March 2008

March 31, 2008

Rethinking Plastics with Wells Fargo’s Green Team

The photo shows a sample of water from the North Pacific Gyre, specifically Sample #23 taken at latitude 34°30.87North, longitude 158°50.93West by the researchers on the Oceanographic Research Vessel Alguita this winter. And that thumb at the bottom of the photo is mine.

Anna Cummins, part of the Alguita crew, sent me the sample to use for Rethinking Plastics presentations. When it arrived last week, I sat down for a minute and wept. Can you see the mixture of plastic and plankton? This is what we are dealing with. This is the bottom of the food chain. It’s probably toxic and can probably never be cleaned up.

Here’s a map showing exactly where the sample came from:

Friday morning, I took my sample with me, along with a Power Point presentation, Synthetic Sea DVD, and other items for “show and tell,” to Wells Fargo Bank to co-present my very first Green Sangha Rethinking Plastics program with Solvig Palm-Nicholls. Wells … Read the rest

March 30, 2008

Week 41 Results: 3.7 oz of plastic waste.

I am really tired. The Green Sangha Rethinking Plastics presentation, which I co-presented with friend and former chemistry teacher Solvig on Friday, took a lot of work and mental preparation during the last two weeks. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow. I think the presentation was a great success, but even though I came home and collapsed afterwards, sleeping for 12 straight hours, I’m still tired.

By the way, I am way, way behind on reading other folks’ blogs and now my in-box has 638 messages, with 213 of them unread. And these are not spam. So I apologize to my blog friends for not participating lately. It’s just that I need a secretary!

It’s ironic that some of the new plastic I’m buying (like shrink-wrapped cases of canned cat food) is a result of being so busy learning and campaigning about plastics that I don’t have time to figure out plastic-free alternatives. A couple of weeks ago, reader Jennifer… Read the rest

March 25, 2008

Guest Recipe: Tanya’s Steamed Salmon with Wild Rice and Sautéed Spinach

I have 516 messages in my email in-box. 127 of them have not been opened yet. I’m giving a Rethinking Plastics presentation on Friday and am down to the wire working on it. And I’m an accountant and this is tax season! So, here is a beautiful recipe that was sent to me by Fake Plastic Fish reader, Tanya, which requires zero plastic if you bring your own containers for the fish and wild rice. After this post, you might not hear from me again until next week. We’ll see how much I can get done with very little time. Cheers!


Tanya’s Steamed salmon with wild rice and sautéed spinach


Wild salmon (I get mine at Whole Foods – v. expensive but a great treat)Wild rice from the bulk bin at Rainbow Grocery (they have a wild rice mix there that I just LOVE, it’s organic and local!) 1 bunch Spinach (naked of course)1 clove Garlic1 lemon (sliced)spring onions (optional)little bit of butterOlive oil


1. Prepare… Read the rest

March 24, 2008

Soap and Shampoo and Deodorant, oh my!


One of the best ways for us to eliminate unnecessary plastic is to eliminate the water. No water = no plastic bottle. The easiest step in that department is to switch from liquid hand soap and bath gels to solid bar soaps. But there are other products that many folks don’t realize come in solid form, like shampoo, so here’s an update on my experiences with solid soaps, shampoo bars, and even plastic-free deodorant.


Plastic-free soap bars are hard to find in mainstream grocery and drugstores, I will admit. Even Ivory comes packaged in plastic wrap these days. But natural stores like Whole Foods are chock full of castile soaps wrapped in little to no paper. Dr. Bronner’s is a good choice for many. Right now, I’m enjoying two different solid soaps:

Dessert Essence lemongrass calendula soaps that I found, believe it or not, on sale at Grocery Outlet for a buck a piece and are packaged with just one strip of paper.

Iyoba Body Read the rest

March 23, 2008

Week 40 Results: .8 oz of plastic waste.

Oh dear. So you know how last week I had zero new plastic waste and only stuff I’d purchased before I started this project? Well, this week, it’s all just new new new stuff. Some unavoidable and some completely and embarrassingly avoidable. So here goes.

New plastic waste: 1 plastic wrap from a case of Instinct canned chicken cat food. Each case contains 24 cans in a cardboard box wrapped in plastic. It’s the secret plastic you don’t normally see if you buy the cans straight off the shelf. And I think all canned cat food comes packaged this way. But the dry food gives them the runs, and I keep reading that dry food is not good for cats anyway. So until I’m ready to cook them food from scratch on a regular basis, this will be a continuing source of plastic in the tally.

Plastic window from a Taco Bell quesadilla wrapper. This is the truly embarrassing admission for the week. I don’t know what happened to me. Okay, yes I do know.… Read the rest

March 21, 2008

Update 2: Urban Composting

Inspired by Life Less Plastic’s excellent Step By Step Composting Guide and info about her Compost Tumbler, and also after many questions from readers about my experiences composting with my Urban Compost Tumbler, I thought I’d post a quick update.

Back in August I wrote a detailed post about the various composting options for someone in an urban environment without access to a yard: Compost Tumbler: a solution to the potting soil problem? So I won’t rehash every option and the reasons why I chose a compost tumbler instead of worms or bokashi. But I will reiterate that I ultimately chose the Urban Compost Tumbler over other tumblers because it is made from 100% recycled plastic rather than new plastic. And I had heard about rust issues with metal compost tumblers.

I’ve now been using this one for over 7 months, and I’ve found it’s not as wonderful as I’d hoped. It’s a little over half full now, and… Read the rest

March 19, 2008

A Rant on Shaving and the Power of Advertising

The next two posts have been inspired by entries on the Life Less Plastic blog. Today’s, by the comments on shaving, and tomorrow’s in response to her post on composting.

So here we go. Back in August, I posted Plastic-free Shaving, Part 1, about my solution for plastic-free hair removal: a metal safety razor from a second-hand store and stainless steel blades. I had intended to write Part 2 after I had tested the various plastic-free shave soaps out there and decided which one worked best for me.

Well, I’ve now tried Simmons, Williams, and Lush Emperor of Ice Cream soap and found them all equally effective. I think any rich soap with a good lather and enough moisturizing oils will work fine. The point is to help the blade travel over the skin smoothly.

So this isn’t Part 2 of Plastic-free shaving. Instead, it’s a comment on my experience shaving this way so far and a rant about the ways advertisers manipulate us into believing… Read the rest

March 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Terrible Person!

Michael’s 40 years old today. Whew! Look how mature he’s suddenly become.

We celebrated by first attending a seminar on “Greening Your Law Firm” followed by a long walk across San Francisco from the Embarcadero to Ocean Beach and back to the Pacific Cafe.

I saw all kinds of plastic stuff to write about, but right now my back hurts and, since it’s still technically the boy’s birthday, I need to go and finish celebrating with him. More tomorrow.

Good night!… Read the rest

March 18, 2008

Blue Vinyl: A Toxic Love Story

I was sick as a dog this weekend and spent all day Saturday on the couch watching videos. Many readers, after reading about my purges (here and here and here) of #3 PVC containers and a MultiPure water filter system containing PVC, recommended Blue Vinylto me. But I just never had time to sit down and watch it until I was too sick to do anything else.

Wow. Thank you to everyone who recommended this film. And for those who haven’t seen it, run out NOW and get it. Rent it from Netflix, borrow it from the library or from a friend who has it, or buy your own copyto share with your friends! I just ordered mine, as this DVD is one piece of plastic I hope to get a lot of use from.

Watching this film gave me such hope for what we can do as individuals if we put our minds to it. It’s the personal story of the filmmaker, Judith Helfand, who reveals right from the start that she’s had a hysterectomy from cancer linked to drugs her mother took while pregnant. Right then,… Read the rest

March 17, 2008

Week 39 Results: 4.3 oz of plastic waste.

Another milestone reached. Zero new plastic waste for the week! Everything in the tally was purchased before I started this project. I’m sure there’ll be more new plastic to add to the tally before the year is up, but it’s nice to have a week with no new plastic!

So, here’s this week’s tally. Items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began: 1 outer cap and inner “sprinkle cap” from a broken glass spice bottle. One of our rascally kitties climbed onto the spice shelf and knocked the glass bottle onto the floor. Some might cite such an occurrence as justification for unbreakable plastic spice bottles. Fortunately, it happened while I was in the kitchen and neither human nor feline was harmed. But instead of blaming it on the cat or the type of bottle, we simply moved the spice shelf to another wall of the kitchen away from the window the kitty was trying to reach. So far, since the move, SootsRead the rest