Archive for November, 2008

November 29, 2008

Plastic-free Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Pecan Risotto, Brussels Sprouts, Winter Salad

I hope you all had a happy and safe Thanksgiving. We spent Thursday at a Thanksgiving potluck with friends and made sure that our three dishes were as plastic-free as possible. Below are links to the recipes, with info on ingredients. I wish I had thought to take pictures of the brussels sprouts after they were cooked as well as Michael’s salad.

Dish 1: Pumpkin Pie Risotto with Candied Pecans (From NPR web site.)

All the dry ingredients came from bulk bins at Whole Foods.

I followed the recipe per the NPR instructions, but I kind of feel like something’s wrong with it as written. The risotto tasted great, but it was much softer than expected, bordering on mushy. The procedure is different from most risottos, requiring you to put the rice and liquids all into the pot together instead of sauteeing the rice first and then adding liquid gradually.

Next time (and there will be a next time because I’m determined to get this right) I’m … Read the rest

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November 25, 2008

Saying Good-bye to Plastic-Free Cat Litter… Again!

Arya loves SwheatScoop cat litter. She loves to rip open the bag, spread the litter across the kitchen floor, and then lie in it and take a nap. Why confine such an awesome substance to her litter box?

Soots on the other hand, will have almost nothing to do with it. To avoid grossing you out, I provide the following black and white representation of what Soots thinks of SwheatScoop:

I wanted to love Swheatscoop natural clumping, flushable cat litter. I really did. Especially because it’s the only flushable* litter that comes in a paper bag rather than plastic. Even the boxed litters have plastic bags inside.

*For those who weren’t here for the beginning of the cat litter story, we feel comfortable flushing their poop because they are indoor cats that have tested negative for toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that kills sea otters.

We tried to love it last year and failed, switching instead to World’s Best Cat Litter — corn in a … Read the rest

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November 25, 2008

Contest Answer: BioBags okay for compost only.

A week ago, I showed this photo from the SF Green Festival and asked what was wrong with this picture. No one offered the specific answer I was looking for, but many gave great partial attempts.

Ken O. noticed that all the bin liners are biodegradable, and he’s right. In fact, they are all corn-based BioBags. Lara S. gave an excellent answer, “the plastic bags are unnecessary and shouldn’t be there (compostable or not… it’s a waste).” If these bins were at our homes, most of us could do without any liners at all. Michael and I don’t use any kind of garbage bags at our house these days… compostable or not.

But for a big 3-day event where there is quite a bit of solid waste (despite being a zero-waste event!) it’s more practical to swap out some kind of liner than to move many, many bins around.

So here’s what happened: these green BioBags were the first thing I noticed when I entered the convention… Read the rest

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November 23, 2008

Sickness: Not so eco-friendly, actually. Year 2, Week 23 Results: 8.4 oz of plastic waste.

I haven’t acquired this much new plastic waste (by weight) since August 24, week of the holey polar fleece blanket.

I started feeling crappy late Sunday night. Wednesday morning, I woke up with a fever of 102°F. As it climbed rapidly over the next hour, I was a quivering mess of chills and aches, barely able to think or even dress myself. Michael took off work to help me get to Kaiser, where a chest X-ray revealed pneumonia.

I returned home with a bag of plastic bottles (not included in this week’s tally because I’m still working on them) and collapsed on the couch, begging the husband before passing out, “Please get me some Chinese soup from Becky’s. And I don’t care if they put it in plastic.” (Grammarians, was that a dangling modifier?)

And boy, did I ever end up with plastic, as you’ll see in the tally below. All new plastic waste:

4 plastic soup containers & 4 lids. We ordered 1 large won ton soup… Read the rest

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November 20, 2008

Focus on Fake

The title of this blog is Fake Plastic Fish, ostensibly because if we don’t solve our plastic pollution problem, fake plastic ones could be the only kind of fish we have left. And also because of Radiohead, for those who know what that means.

But there’s another reason for the word “fake” in the title of this blog, and after the small uproar caused by yesterday’s post about PETA’s fake plastic wishbones, I’d like to try and address that reason.

But first, what is real?

Besides being kind to others and taking care of the earth, the primary motivating question of my life is “What is real?” That question is the reason I go on meditation retreats, sit and notice the silence around me, and listen to the words of spiritual teachers. It’s why I practice noticing my own thoughts and the explanations my brain creates about life that, when I step aside, turn out to be just stories.

And what story does… Read the rest

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November 19, 2008

Fake Plastic Wishbones?

Turns out the cold I thought I had is actually a mild case of pneumonia. Thanks very much to blogger Rejin Leys from Urban Botany who filled in for me tonight with a post about a crazy new plastic product being promoted by, of all organizations, PETA.

This week, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) held a contest and awarded 5 lucky winners each a package of 10 “vegan” wishbones, so they can fully participate in Thanksgiving Day festivities without having to touch “the awful real thing.”

Regular readers of FPF will immediately spot the problem with this, right? Fake Plastic Wishbones? As Beth and other anti-plastic pollution activists have pointed out so many times, the world is already drowning in useless plastic crap. Why do companies keep dreaming up and producing more? And most perplexingly, what is an animal rights advocacy organization doing marketing that plastic crap for the Lucky Break Wishbone … Read the rest

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November 18, 2008

Brita® and Preserve® Announce Filter Recycling Program

After months of campaigning to urge Brita to take back and recycle used Brita filters, we (the Take Back The Filter group) are thrilled to announce the details of the take-back recycling program that Brita has developed. Read their full press release here.

1) Collection: Beginning in early January, Brita users will be able to drop off used filters at Whole Foods Markets or mail them to an address which will be provided closer to the start date. [From personal experience, I would recommend NOT sealing them up in ZipLoc bags. This just ends up creating a lot of soggy, wet, not-so-nice smelling filters.]

2) Recycline, dba Preserve, the company that makes recycled toothbrushes, razors, and other household products, will recycle 100% of each plastic filter casing collected into other household products.

3) The filter ingredients, activated carbon and ion-exchange resin will be regenerated for alternative use or converted into energy.

The Take Back… Read the rest

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November 17, 2008

Carnival Of The Green #154

Welcome to the 154th edition of the weekly Carnival of the Green, a collection of environmentally-focused blog posts which moves from one blog to the next each Monday and is managed by Tree Hugger.

Last week, the Carnival of the Green was hosted by Natural Collection’s ooffoo site. Next week’s is scheduled to be hosted by Environmental Survival Guide    The Tranquil Parent.

There were a lot of entries sent to me this week covering a broad spectrum of green topics. We have money managers, green moms, crafters (check out the Barbie dress made from crocheted plastic bags), guys, gals, and everyone in between. So, here are the posts in the order I received them.

Grab a cup of whatever you think appropriate, sit back, and enjoy!

Heather Levin presents How To Set Up A Community Lending Library posted at The Greenest Dollar.

GrrlScientist presents Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood posted at Living the Scientific… Read the rest

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November 16, 2008

A Teaser, a Contest, an Announcement, & Year 2, Week 22 Results: 1.0 oz of plastic waste.

Like last week, I have a bunch of business before the tally.

Teaser: Brita’s going to take back and recycle their pitcher filter cartridges!

I received a phone call on Friday (while hanging out at the SF Green Festival) from Drew McGowan, Brita brand manager, alerting me that Brita will indeed begin taking back and recycling pitcher filters beginning in January!

He sent me a copy of the full press release with details, but I’ve promised not to reveal specifics until Tuesday. What I will tell you is that they seem to have incorporated almost all the elements of our petition in coming up with a solution that keeps jobs here in the U.S. and doesn’t rely on shipping the plastic off to China.

Please visit our Take Back The Filter campaign web page on Tuesday for full details of the program. And you can stop sending us your filters. Hooray! Hold onto them until January, when you’ll be able to send them in directly for recycling.

Now…… Read the rest

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November 14, 2008

Beth Geeks Out: Reformatting hard drives and installing Windows Upgrades

I’m tired. I was up very late last night doing a job I love: working on the computers at my office. And as an added bonus, I was doing something great for the environment and saving plastic.

We had five old computers running Windows 2000. We bought a new Filemaker Pro upgrade which will not install on Windows 2000. And even Microsoft will not support that version of Windows anymore. In the past, the company would have tossed the old computers and bought new ones. But this is a new, fierce economy, baby. People can’t afford to be wasteful, and I’m freakin’ glad.

So instead of tossing perfectly good machines, we bought 5 Windows XP Pro licenses (actually, they are Windows VISTA licenses that allow us to downgrade to XP because we don’t really want VISTA at this time) and the only plastic involved was the one CD-Rom I used to burn the downloaded software. I needed a bootable disk, otherwise I wouldn’t have burned a CD at … Read the rest

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