The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
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, Soots and Arya have had no further interest in this shelf. But we have learned that glass, while environmentally preferable, requires more care than plastic and we need to make sure it’s out of the reach of curious cats.
  • Plastic from a blister 4-pack of GE nightlight bulbs. We’re using the last bulb from this pack now, and I’ll have to purchase more when that one burns out. I was thinking of switching to an LED night light, which would last longer and use less electricity, but I’m wondering if it’s really worth it. These standard bulbs are 4-watts. I don’t think they’re destroying the planet. Plus, I haven’t been able to find any nightlight bulbs, LED or otherwise, packaged without plastic. If you know of some, please tell me!
  • 1 2-qt container of Kikkoman soy sauce (#7 plastic) plus cap. #7 plastic? This confuses me because #7 means “Other” and when describing petroleum-based plastic, usually refers to Polycarbonate, that hard plastic that Nalgene bottles were made from. But this bottle is soft and feels to me like #2 plastic. So I have no idea what this “Other” could be. Anyway, I found out today that Berkeley Whole Foods sells soy sauce in bulk from a spigot. I just poured the last bit from this container into a smaller glass bottle today. When that finally runs out, I’ll take the bottle to Whole Foods and refill it.
  • Plastic wrappers from 2 Pepto Bismal chewable tablets. Tummy probs earlier this week and then spent the weekend on the couch with aches and chills. All better now.
  • 1 10-oz plastic bag of Jeremiah’s Pick coffee. Found in the back of the freezer and used up this week. I don’t often make coffee at home, preferring those very expensive yuppie coffee drinks in my stainless steel travel mug while I’m out in the world. I think the reason is that if I don’t actually buy and brew coffee, I can fool myself into believing that I’m not really a coffee drinker. Right. Just like those people who only smoke “socially” and never buy their own cigarettes but bum them off their friends every chance they get. (And no, I haven’t been one of them in many years!)

But this is a good place for a coffee segue. Did you know that March is National Caffeine Awareness Month? Well it is. I am fully aware that caffeine is an evil, beastly chemical, and it’s such a darned shame that a drink as thrillingly delicious as coffee is loaded with it. (Surely the thrill has nothing to do with the caffeine.) Anyway, the web site, has a whole Caffeine Resource Guide, including 10 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds, How to Compost with Coffee, and How to Endure Caffeine Withdrawal, as well as other caffeine-related articles, including one that I don’t even want to think about.

I love this guide because I can go either way with it. I can keep buying coffee (Fair Trade, of course, and from a bulk bin rather than pre-packaged in plastic) and recycle the grounds in earth-friendly ways, or I can learn how to give it up and survive the inevitable withdrawal (Or as Michael would say, “withdraweral.”) headache and crankiness. Don’t think I can quit it? Come on! I’ve done it hundreds of times!

17 Responses to “Week 39 Results: 4.3 oz of plastic waste.”

  1. terrible person says:

    Thanks, Leslie, for the heads-up about the chemicals used in decaffeination. I drink a little Peet’s decaf at work, and according to their FAQ, the methyl chloride process is as safe as the water process. However, the site doesn’t actually say which one they use. I just emailed them; it will be interesting to read their response. Or maybe I’ll just ask at a store.

  2. Ken says:


    Just adding my $.02– for the vast majority of people (e.g. those lacking heart arrhythmias), there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of caffeine in the diet and there’s even some suggestions it might be good for most people. (I seem to recall it being beneficial for decreasing the incidence of both diabetes and depression (and possibly heart disease as well), although it’s been awhile since I really checked into it and I don’t care to bother right now.) I do know that ‘Medical Science’ has tried (and failed) time and time again to prove that drinking coffee is bad for you. One hypothesis is that coffee contains a lot of natural antioxidants that seem to be helping (although there hasn’t been much benefit shown to taking Vitamin C or E, so go figure.) I also seem to recall (in agreement with another poster here) that decaffeinated coffee does not offer the same health benefits as the real thing.

    So… my advice would be to find something else to give up. Regular (moderate) coffee consumption is a vice worth keeping, right along with regular (moderate) red wine consumption.

    Dr. Ken

  3. leslie says:

    Hi FPF!
    Please check out the “decaffeinated” link here. The chemicals used to decaf coffee are far more harmful that a few cups of the real thing.

    Those rascally kitties!

  4. Fake Plastic Fish says:

    Hey Lauren. How bright is it? How much can you see by it? Would it be enough to see furniture in the room in order to avoid bumping into things? Or is it more like exit lights on the floor of a plane? Can you describe your experience with them a little more?

  5. lauren says:

    What about these:

    They are made of plastic, but there is no bulb to replace. I have had some last a long while.

  6. Fake Plastic Fish says:

    P.S. A candle up high might be nice in the evening while we’re awake, but the night light, the part about saving bones and lives, that has to be on while we sleep for when one of us has to stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night while still asleep and certainly incapable of finding a flashlight.


  7. Fake Plastic Fish says:

    Heather, you crack me up. The first thing I thought was, “Oh great. The cats will have a field day burning our house down if I leave a lit candle burning at night.”

    Here’s the deal. We have one night light in the bedroom. It is essential. Our bathroom is off the bedroom, and to get to the bathroom in the evening, we have to go through the bedroom. I think it’s a lot better to leave a tiny 4-watt night light on at night than to be constantly turning on the overhead light (which one of us may forget to turn off.) And also, at night, the night light saves bones and probably lives. Not kidding.

    So anyway, it’s one small night light. I’d love to not have to buy new bulbs in a plastic package, but when it comes down to it, if I can’t find them without, I’m just going to break down and do it.


    Oh, and Vanessa, I’m not talking about switching to a CFL night light (which would contain mercury) but an LED which I believe does not contain toxic elements. Anyone else know?


  8. heather t says:

    You know I’m not recommending keeping a candle burning while you’re asleep?

    Of course. You knew that.

  9. heather t says:

    Hi – glad no one was hurt in the spice bottle incident!

    Just wondering if the night lights are something you can live without or live with less of. You don’t have little kiddos stumbling to the potty in the dark, so…

    If you like a little light in the evenings, how about a soy-based candle? Or keep an LED flashlight by the bed if you or TP have to get up in the dark.

    Just an idea; trying to help you stay plastic-free!

  10. Vanessa says:

    I’m very torn about the light bulbs. The older traditional kind you can dispose of, recycle, etc. The newer more energy efficient ones have special disposal procedures and contain mercury which if the bulb ever breaks requires a costly haz-mat type clean up. Your thoughts?

  11. blog4reel says:

    Hi there,

    I changed the verbage in the Rules. I hope it works for you. Hope to see your blog on thanks!

  12. arduous says:

    If you can’t quit, maybe you should invest in some good coffee for home use. You’ll save a lot of money by making your coffee at home!

  13. Tracey says:

    We reuse coffee bags endlessly at my food coop (

    Now I have PLA lined brown paper coffee bags in stock at my clinic, too.

    Caffeine is a known terratogen, meaning that it intereferes with fetal growth in the first 5 months of pregnancy. Caffeine consumption increases the risk of birth “defects” and of miscarriage. Basically, it speeds growth up and leads to hasty mistakes in the womb.

    I say the above as a coffee drinking natural health professional. I am not against fairly traded organically grown coffee! I personally drink decaf, and completely abstained from caffeine in the the first two trimesters of pregancy. I think I chugged some hot and iced tea in the last few months!

    #7 Other plastic is a pot portri: It could be great, it copuld be abyssmal:
    * PLA
    It could be vegetable resin, not petroleum at all and fully compostable!!!
    * Recycled
    It could be recycled plastic.
    * Petroleum horrors
    Could be that, too…

    Soy sauce in a plastic jug! Horrors!!! I am so isolated in my food coop world! I only ever see the stuff in glass or bulk!

    Congratulations on your zero new plastic triumph.

    Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

  14. Beany says:

    I’ve been thinking of quitting coffee. I’ve done it before but its very challenging to work 12 hours (including commute) 4 days/week to have a 3 day weekend every week. I’m thinking about what I prefer…less free time on weekends and no coffee or shorter weekends and more dealings with irritating coworkers. I don’t have any caffeine on the weekends, I just take a nap. Maybe I need another job.

  15. Lynn from says:

    Hey there Beth, Happy St. Patty’s Day and congrats on the zero waste, but easy on the coffee attacks!

    Did you know a lot of the bad raps attributed to coffee have never been proven? In fact, it’s been shown to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s and cut the risk of gallstones. Here’s a link to a great article about this in the Berkeley Health Wellness newsletter:

    When I was pregnant this last time, the doc okayed coffee in moderation. Trick is not to drink it all at once (hard to do, I admit, I’m a three-latte girl in the mornings).

    There are also great organic and even biodynamic options available.

    And tea is no panacea – in fact, I recently learned that pesticide residue on non-organic tea is a huge issue. So if you drink tea, drink organic!

  16. Joyce says:

    Never, ever heard of all these uses for used coffee grounds! But, if I pursue all these ideas, my poor worms will go into caffeine withdrawal!

  17. organicneedle says:

    My approach to the caffeine thing isn’t to be rid of it…that would just be unthinkable. I, however, in attempts to move in a healthier direction….am switching to green tea ice tea for the spring/summer months. Not a big fan of hot green tea, but love the cold stuff. You can order some really nice loose teas from Tealuxe that come in tins with lids. The tins have a zillion and one 2nd uses. Perfect for storing spices. (I can’t do the bulk bin tea thing….too many nose pickers in this world.)

    And as much as I like a good java fix…I have yet to feel the urge to shoot it up my rump. Just me I guess.