The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
May 22, 2009

General Housekeeping & off on vacation

I’ve got a bunch of random housekeeping items to share (in no particular order) and then I’m off with Michael to get away from the computer for a few days and enjoy trees, fresh air, ocean waves, and perhaps a terrifying roller coaster ride or two. Can anyone guess where we’re going?

Item #1: “Show Us Your (Plastic) Trash Challenge” update: Your plastic tallies have been flying in this week. Hurrah! I haven’t had time to look at all of them yet, but I’ve got them and will start posting them next week. I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys have come up with and what ideas you have about the plastic in your lives. (If for some reason you don’t want your tally posted here publicly, please be sure and let me know!) And if you haven’t taken the challenge, there’s still plenty of time to join up. Read the original post for the rules.

Item #2: I’ve been getting lots of offers for guest posts here, and I’m really grateful for those as well. I’ll probably post one per week, so if you have sent me a guest post and don’t see it here right away, please know that I have it and will let you know before it goes up. I’m happy to make Fake Plastic Fish less about Beth Terry in Oakland and more about a community of people attempting to live responsibly and sharing ideas about how to do it.

Item #3: Regarding yesterday’s Bulk Bins post, many people have asked how I avoid paying for the weight of the container when I bring my own jars and cloth bags to the stores to fill from the bulk bins. Here’s the answer. In the stores where I shop, the cashiers are able to deduct the weight of the bag or container (aka tare weight) from the total weight of the item. Different stores handle this in different ways.

At Rainbow Grocery, customers weigh their own empty containers at a station in the store and write the weight on a sticker on their container before they fill it with food. At Whole Foods, the staff at the customer service desk weigh customers’ empty containers. At Berkeley Bowl, the employee at the bulk counter can weigh your empty container. At my butcher shop, the scale has a tare feature for deducting the weight of the pot. Basically, the butcher puts the pot on the scale, then zeros it out, and then fills it with chicken, and the scale only registers the weight of the chicken. Oh, and my cloth Ecobags have the tare weight printed right on the label, so I can just show it to the cashier when checking out.

The point is that many stores that sell food in bulk bins have ways to deduct the weight of the container. You just have to find out what method they use before you buy.

Item #4: Last week, I was happy to be interviewed for a cool project that my friend Manuel is working on to find out what happens to Bay Area recycling. You can listen to the Interview here on BlogTalk Radio.

Item #5: Oh, nevermind. This one had to do with Adam Lambert, “Beth I Hear You Calling,” and how to get Michael to wear guyliner. Not really appropriate for Fake Plastic Fish, so forget I mentioned it. (But seriously, you should have seen me spastically flapping my arms in the air Wednesday night as Adam sang to me.)

Have a great weekend. See you on Tuesday with a double plastic tally.

15 comments
Lyka from Air Ambulance Services
Lyka from Air Ambulance Services

The garbage collector truck comes twice a week in our place. I think every tuesday and Friday. When it's tuesday I'll tell to myself, I sitll have friday, and comes friday, I'll tell myself I still have Tuesday. ends up having three large garbage bags thrown out after three weeks.

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

@Anonymous -- I was trying to be funny for a change and was referring to the photo. Although as I recall, it was a different photo. Or maybe not. Who knows. Sorry to offend.

Greenjoycie
Greenjoycie

Beth, Thanks so much for all the links. I found a place to recycle my #5 plastics! It's a store where I already go to take my packing peanuts, styrofoam, bubble wrap etc. Yay! !thanks. And I got a great deal on the 7th gen toilet paper. Gotta love saving $$$. Thanks again.

Robj98168
Robj98168

OK my week of being Beth Terry is over. You can have your life back- to qoute James Van Derbeek in "Varsity Blues": "I dont want yer life" MY plastic waste report is here.

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Hi Amy. You are right. There will be some packaging that we don't see. But the packaging will be much, much less than if we each bought our own smaller packages.That said, some foods are in fact delivered without packaging. I just got back from a trip to Rainbow Grocery today, where I learned that the fresh tofu and fresh pasta are delivered and stored in containers that are returned to the vendor for reuse.I am planning to do more research into where the bulk foods come from, how they are packaged, and how much waste is involved. I had a conversation with a Whole Foods employee yesterday who told me that many things are delivered in big paper sacks. When I learn more, I'll certainly post it here.

Plastic-less Amy
Plastic-less Amy

Hi Beth. I have a comment about buying bulk. While I agree wholeheartedly agree that this produces much less waste, the bulk product is still shipped to the stores we purchase it from in some kind of container. I dare say probably a plastic bag. Or one of those foil bags lined with plastic. I've seen you write many times on your blog that you like purchasing in bulk because there is no wasteful packaging left behind. But the reality is, there is packaging left behind, it's just left behind at the store.Have you, or anyone you know, done any research to see if the stores send these containers back to their supplier to reuse? Or do they trash them?Thanks!Amy

John Costigane
John Costigane

Hi Beth,Bulk bins used to be found locally but have all closed. These were scoop loaded and the shops were not the cleanest.Our, UK, use of containers is for loose produce of all kinds, meat/fish/bakery produce/coffee beans/home cosmetics/fruit&veg/chocolates etc.The whole point is to be bold as brass when dealing with counter staff. Always explain your reasons and you will gain acceptance. Nowadays it is so... routine.For the fair sex, go accompanied until you are used to it. There are handling issues for some foods which have got to be respected. Some patience is necessary. It is ace to see so many following your example. This is the plastic-free future.

Emily
Emily

Oops, I have been getting away with weighing and marking my own containers at Whole foods. I don't think I even know where the customer service desk is...

green LA girl
green LA girl

I'm v. impressed by your knowledge of how all these different stores deal with reusable containers! I'm actually not even sure how Co-opportunity -- the co-op market I go to like every week -- deals with this, because I just reuse plastic bags I've had for a while....

Jennifer
Jennifer

Our health food store is so far away I don't even know where it is. I wonder if mainstream stores will catch on with the bin idea? I would also like to put croissants in my own container: hate how they come in an enormous clam shell.

fruitgrrl
fruitgrrl

i did my part too, 50 votes (thanks to all my 80 year old neighbor ladies written instructions). altho my familys votes prob cancelled mine out as usual. but now he's free to make his first album on his own terms.

monkeyjen
monkeyjen

firsties. AND you also forgot to mention how you called my house at 11:30pm to tell us to call and vote for him. Freak. See ya tomorrow! Big trip out!