The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: July 2009

July 31, 2009

Beth’s Big Back to School Binder Debate

You wouldn’t think that 3-ring binders would be the topic of intense debate within the green blogging community, but it turns out they have become a symbol of a much bigger discussion: the pros and cons of buying new “green” products vs. re-using older products that might not be as green. It’s a debate I constantly have with myself, and generally I end up on the side promoting less consumption, less purchasing of new stuff, less less less. Except when I think the re-used option could be harmful to health (plastic food containers, for example) and then I quickly jump on the new bandwagon.

Anyway, last week, blogger Siel Ju of Green LA Girl posted a short article about Sustainable Group’s [Now called Guided Products] Green Back to School Kit. The kit includes binders, notebooks, and other supplies made from plastic-free, recycled materials.

Blog Lighter Footstep takes issue with these products. In his article, “5… Read the rest

July 30, 2009

Blogher ’09 and The Story of Stuff

What have you heard about #BlogHer09 so far? Stories are circulating around the web that the conference is no longer about connection and content and community and is instead all about sponsors and swag and greed. Check out this damning video by a Chicago writer who worked at the Pepsico booth for a few days. Read Jessica Gottlieb’s followup interview with him. Another blogger asks, “BlogHer ’09: Does Swag Pervert the Purpose?” and a disenchanted blogger I met at the Saturday night cocktail party posts a crazy photo of all the plastic swag she picked up.

Here are just a few of the big vendors represented at BlogHer09:

But lest you think I’m above all this, let me tell you a little story.

A (Fake Plastic) Fish Out of Water

For two weeks before BlogHer, I was staying up late and running around like mad trying to finish up projects and prepare for the trip. Finding out I had won the style consultation with Tim Gunn only accelerated… Read the rest

July 27, 2009

A Break from Blogher09 Frenzy: My Lunch with Tim Gunn at the Four Seasons

I have a lot to say about the Blogher Conference, plastic, traveling, Chicago, disillusionment, and frustration. But I’m tired. And I can’t get Wifi to work on my laptop. And I need a break from the computer for a few days. (Have been tweeting and updating my Facebook status throughout the conference every day.) So this post will be a simple and short appreciation of the beautiful experience I had meeting Project Runway’s Tim Gunn on Saturday.

Whatever your feelings about style, the fashion industry, advertisers (the contest I won was sponsored by Tide) or reality television, this post is not about those things. It’s about a one hour human connection, and that’s all.

What I thought was going to be a makeover and style criticism consultation turned out to be a lovely meal and conversation about all sorts of things. I presented Tim with a gift of GlassDharma drinking straws, which he found very unique, and he presented… Read the rest

July 23, 2009

I Can’t Leave For BlogHer & Tim Gunn Without Announcing the Joey Totes Winner!

When this post goes live, I’ll already be in the air on my way to the BlogHer conference of women bloggers in Chicago. I’m so excited. Why?


1) I volunteered as a member of BlogHer’s Green Team this year to help make the conference as eco-friendly as possible. Last year, as some of you may recall, the conference planners took some steps to mitigate the environmental impact. Still, as I mentioned in my follow-up post “Schwag & Twitter at BlogHer ’08“, there were ways they could have done better.

This year, BlogHer not only listened, they reached out to us green bloggers, created a Green Team, and went much further than they had before. Check out the list of green initiatives BlogHer has taken. We’re especially proud of a discussion we had with conference sponsor, Pepsi, and the results of that conversation. More on that in a later post.

2) They’re having Friday night karaoke. Oh yes. They… Read the rest

July 20, 2009

Plastic-free Farmer’s Markets need our thanks!

There’s a new trend in the Bay Area: Farmer’s Markets going plastic-free. But we still have a long way to go, and the vendors need to know we care.

Back up: Two years ago, I wrote the post, “Plastic Farmers Market“, about all the plastic bags and packaging at our local Temescal farmers market here in North Oakland. Shortly afterwards, I got involved with Green Sangha’s Rethinking Plastics campaign, whose members table at local farmers markets, handing out cloth bags and encouraging patrons to bring their own.

To be clear: I’m not talking about reusable grocery totes and baskets. Most of the folks here in the Bay Area are conscientious about bringing those bags. The problem is that they then proceed to fill up their canvas totes with multiple plastic produce bags. Green Sangha’s mission has been two-fold: encouraging shoppers to bring their own cloth produce bags (or skip putting larger items into separate… Read the rest

July 17, 2009

Joey Totes Reusable Bags

Almost two years ago, I published the rant, “Be Careful On the Reusable Bags Bandwagon” in which I slammed people who ran out and bought brand new reusable bags instead of reusing the disposable plastic bags they already had on hand.

While I still believe that it’s generally more sustainable to make use of what we have before buying new “green” products, I’m much less judgmental these days and recognize that some new products can truly help us get where we need to go. So many well-intentioned people have told me stories about leaving their reusable bags at home, or in the car. And in fact, I myself have gotten into the habit of carrying a little ChicoBag in my purse wherever I go, “just in case.”

So now there’s a new compressible bag in town that, like ChicoBags, comes with its own attached stuff sack. (I realize there are other bags with separate stuff sacks, but honestly, I don’t bother… Read the rest

July 16, 2009

BPA: California let us down. The Smart Mama’s Green Guide can help.

I’m kind of sad this morning. I just learned that yesterday, California’s Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee voted not to add Bisphenol A (BPA) to the state’s list of chemicals that are believed to cause reproductive harm under Prop 65. The board members said that “none of the studies they reviewed offered clear evidence of the chemical’s toll on human health.”

You can read more about BPA, where it’s found, and why we should care in the following Fake Plastic Fish posts:Bisphenol-A (aka BPA): What is it? Where is it? Why do we care?

More BPA! Bisphenol-A in our Kids.

I want to know how much harm must be done before the evidence is clear. And why must our children be the guinea pigs for toxic chemicals in the first place? The European Union follows the Precautionary Principle in deciding whether measures should be taken to protect human health. Specifically,

“The… Read the rest

July 15, 2009

Help! I’m buried under paper and I can’t get up!

So here’s the deal. I promised to write a post on about plastic-free organizing tips next week. But I have no business writing any such thing. Just take a look at my desk:

I’ve been trying to organize my office space ever since we moved here in 2005, and it’s just not happening. Paper, paper everywhere. I’ve been working to reduce the amount of paper mail I receive. I get most of my bills online and don’t print them out. And yet, my desk is always full of paper — to do notes, meeting notes, contact information, flyers, business cards — and I just feel overwhelmed. (That photo? I just took it this morning. Last week, my desk was even worse before I went on a rampage and recycled a whole bunch of stuff that had “expired.”)

So I want some ideas. Some systems for clearing the clutter. And if you have a blog and have written about this topic, I’ll totally give you full credit, link to you, … Read the rest

July 9, 2009

Bottled Water Problem: It’s Not Just The Bottle!

Bottled water companies are under attack. They know their plastic bottles are a problem, and they are working around the clock to fix it. Either by changing the bottles themselves or changing their marketing or both. PepsiCo, for example, just launched it’s “Eco-Fina” bottle to contain Aquafina bottled water. According to Pepsi’s press release, the Eco-fina bottle weighs less than any other plastic bottle and contains 50% less plastic.

Is this enough?

If you ask me, no! Because the problems with bottled water extend beyond the plastic bottle. And yesterday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their report, “BOTTLED WATERFDA Safety and Consumer Protections Are Often Less Stringent Than Comparable EPA Protections for Tap Water,” basically finding the same thing. Plastic bottles are a problem. But they are not the only problem with bottled water.

So here’s what the Government… Read the rest

July 8, 2009

Plastics Debate Continues with Artist Chris Jordan Weighing In

Yesterday, I mentioned a conversation I had with plastics proponent Greg from and posed several questions for Fake Plastic Fish readers to answer.

Greg has responded to my post with an article on his own blog: “Plastic: What is it good for? Absolutely lots!” Greg invites your comments on his blog — comments which members of the plastics industry will read!

Visual artist Chris Jordan, whom you might recognize for his brilliant social & environmental series called “Running The Numbers,” attempted to respond on Greg’s blog, but his comment was too long. So here it is. Feel free to respond, forward, and discuss with friends. Chris raises important issues about all corporations and whether or not they actually respond to consumer demand or are actually in the business of manufacturing the demand they want.

Hello Greg, greetings from Seattle. I’m an artist and cultural activist who… Read the rest