Archive for April, 2008

April 11, 2008

Environmental Children’s Books, Part 2: Teach Them To Recycle and Bring Their Own Bag

Here are the next two environmental kids’ books, as promised.

Michael Recycle,by Ellie Bethel, illustrated by Alexandra Colombo. Green Bean may think that my Michael is a super hero for encouraging his firm to stop buying bottled water. But this big picture book is about a new super hero, Michael Recycle, who flies into trashy towns in his green cape and colander hat and, in Suess-like rhyme, teaches everyone to recycle and garden and collect rainwater. Then, when the town is sparkling again, they throw a big old party to celebrate. In fact, instead of buying streamers,

They covered the town
In green toilet paper
Then rolled it back up
To use again later.

You may think that’s yucky
But these folks don’t agree
In Abberdoo-Rimey
Recycling is key!

While the pictures in this book are fantastic fun and the Go Green Tips at the end are useful, I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on waste reduction and reuse before recycling.

They… Read the rest

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April 9, 2008

Environmental Children’s Books, Part 1: A Polar Bear, A Hippo, And A 130-Year Old Tortoise

I’ve received 4 environmental children’s books in the past month from publishers who would like me to review them on Fake Plastic Fish. Not that I know anything about children. I mean, I was one once, but I don’t have or live with any now… unless you count Terrible Person and the two unruly kitty cats in our house. But I do enjoy picture books, and my brother, in fact, is a children’s book illustrator, so why not? I’ll talk about the first 2 tonight and the next 2 tomorrow.

Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World,by Juliana, Isabella, and Craig Hatkoff and Dr. Gerald R. Uhlich. If you haven’t heard the story of Knut, he’s the little polar bear from the Berlin Zoo who was rejected by his mother at birth and raised by a human zookeeper until he was old enough to live in an enclosure and perform for an adoring public. I don’t think I’m supposed to tell it that way, though. Knut’s… Read the rest

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April 9, 2008

Lush responds, for what it’s worth

The letter-writing continues. After mentioning Lush solid shampoo and deodorant bars in my post two weeks ago, I received several comments from readers who had mail ordered Lush products hoping to avoid plastic packaging, only to find that the products that are sold “naked” in the store are packaged in all kinds of plastic when shipped through the mail.

So I wrote to Lush. I’m not going to reprint my actual email because I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t very nice. I must have been in a crappy mood when I wrote it, and rereading it tonight, I realize it’s pretty confrontational, which is not the best approach when we want someone to make a change for us. Flies and honey and all that. Nevertheless, the response I got back was very polite. And while I still don’t agree with all their packaging choices, I’m happy that they’ve obviously thought about the issue a lot and are working to get better.… Read the rest

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April 8, 2008

National Geographic: You’re green. But could you be a little greener?

National Geographic publishes the Green Guide, a wonderful source for information on environmentally-friendly living. I’ve consulted the Green Guide often for information from PVC to PFCs. And National Geographic publishes articles on environmental issues, such as “Oceans Awash With Microscopic Plastic, Scientists Say“.

So it was particularly disturbing for me to receive an email from Fake Plastic Fish reader Ashley Christenson yesterday telling me about the plastic “polybag” that the National Geographic magazine comes wrapped in. Ashley wrote a letter to National Geographic and gave me permission to reproduce it, as well as National Geographic’s response here:

March 17, 2008Dear National Geographic,

I always enjoy receiving the National Geographic magazine in the mail. I find it informative and it has raised my awareness about many important issues. I was glad to see you report on the mass… Read the rest

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April 7, 2008

Week 42 Results: .5 oz of plastic waste.

Another week during which I had zero plastic waste until the weekend. What is it about weekends? Here’s the tally. All items are new since the plastic project began:

1 inner liner from a bag of Natural Choice Indoor Kitten food. This was something we bought a while back when we were trying to figure out what to feed them. Decided to use up the last of it this week, since their tummy troubles are all better.

1 outer wrap from a box of Refresh Endura eye drops. This was the first week in a while that I’ve had eye problems bad enough to open a new box of drops.

1 Refresh Endura single use eyedrop container. Saturday morning was not a happy time.

1 plastic capsule from a bottle of Jepson Estate Bottled Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc (2005). In all the time since I’ve been tallying my plastic waste, this is the first wine I’ve opened with a plastic capsule (the wrapper around the neck that covers the cork.) All the others, as far as I know, have been … Read the rest

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April 4, 2008

Dairy Wars: Battle of the Milk & Cheese

The last two posts were about coffee. This post is about what goes in the coffee. Well, half of it is. The other half is about cheese. Anyway, I need your input. I confess I haven’t been using my soy milk maker as regularly as I’d planned, opting for cow’s milk in my coffee. (The soy milk maker is a pain to clean, plus I keep forgetting to soak the beans at night.) My question is which cow’s milk is better? The Clover cow or the Straus cow?

Now, before you weigh in, I need to give you all the facts that I am aware of:

Straus Family Creamery is a local certified organic dairy farm in Marin County (not far from me) whose cows are grass-fed and gmo-free. You can read about their healthy farm practices here and their position on GMOs here. Packaging: Straus milk comes in heavy glass bottles that are returned to the store and reused (rather than recycled.) The drawback: a fat non-recyclable plastic cap on each bottle.

Clover Stornetta is a much … Read the rest

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April 2, 2008

And still one more…

Reading the comments from yesterday’s post about coffee, I realized there was a bunch of stuff I forgot to say. So this is Coffee, Part 2. Tomorrow, I’ll get to the white stuff that goes in the coffee.

1) French Press vs. Filtered Coffee: Some readers are advocating the French Press as a filter-free alternative. While this method certainly saves a lot of paper coffee filters, it might not be the best option for those of us with cholesterol issues, like Beth Terry aka Fake Plastic Fish.

High cholesterol seems to run in my family. And the oil in coffee contains a compound called cafestol which raises LDL (the bad cholesterol). Paper filters, and I’m assuming cloth filters, trap much of the oil and therefore reduce the cholesterol-raising properties of coffee. Recent studies have shown that even filtered coffee raises LDL some. But not as much as unfiltered. Here’s an MSNBC article that summarizes the research in terms that … Read the rest

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April 1, 2008

Goodbye Plastic Coffee Maker. Hello Porcelain.

Goodbye old friends. You served me well. But did you poison me in the process? I don’t know. Supposedly #5 polypropylene is safe. But that’s what they used to say about your buddy polycarbonate, and look what he’s doing to us! So you have to go. White coffee drip cone, black coffee drip cone, and Braun electric coffee maker with the plastic coffee cone, goodbye. And you, new Melitta coffee filters in the plastic bag, you have to go too. Hope you will all enjoy being with the brave Freecycler who has agreed to take you home, despite the warning in my Freecycle post that I was getting rid of you because I wasn’t sure it was safe to drink hot liquids poured through plastic.

So hello new coffee friends. It’s a good thing I bought you last week before Crunchy Chicken’s Buy Nothing Challenge began on April 1. Too bad you came with a plastic bag of bleached white coffee filters, which the above-mentioned Freecycler is going to… Read the rest

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