Monthly Archives: August 2009

Outside Lands Rocks with Less Plastic

Don’t get me wrong. There was still a ton of plastic waste to be recycled from the Outside Lands Music Festival that took place this weekend in Golden Gate Park.

But less than last year. Because instead of providing only bottled water, the festival organizers listened to the feedback from last year’s attendees (like me!) and provided water refill stations as well.

I was heartened to see the stations being used by many people who brought their own bottles. That said, the system was not all I could have wished for. True to a festival guard’s declaration to me last year that they had “no intention of providing free water to everyone,” Outside Lands brought in 5-gallon jugs of Arrowhead water and sold each 20-ounce refill for $1. Or if you bought an Outside Lands branded reusable bottle, refills were free throughout the festival.

Now certainly, these jugs produce much less waste than individual plastic bottles because… Read the rest

Music Festival Dilemma. GreenBoatStuff.com to the Rescue!

Yesterday, I interviewed an activist who promotes shifting our spending to truly green companies. Today, I’m going to tell you about one such company. There’s boat stuff coming too. Green boat stuff. But first, a little story…

Remember last year when I blogged about my difficulties filling up my Klean Kanteen at San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music Festival? If you haven’t read the post, be sure and check it out. It’s pretty outrageous.

Well, this year, Outside Lands is supposedly making a big change. They’ve announced they will provide water refill stations and encourage festival participants to bring their own bottles. I’ll let you know how this works out because I’m going to the festival this Saturday. By myself. Why? Because no one else I know is up for spending 100 frickin’ dollars to join me for Jason Mraz, Black Eyed Peas, TV on the Radio, and a whole host of other bands plus… Read the rest

Personal Changes Do Make A Difference: An Interview with Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse

Yesterday, I asked whether personal changes at at the individual level can truly change the world. Today, I’m happy to share with you an interview with a woman I have truly grown to admire and who believes that shifting our personal spending towards greener products not only makes a difference but is actually more effective than waiting for governments to act.

I reviewed Diane MacEachern’s book, Big Green Purse, a year ago. Since then, I have had the pleasure of knowing her through the Green Moms Carnival, working with her on the BlogHer Green Team, plotting World Greenification with her in her hotel room at the BlogHer conference last month, and watching her cut loose on the ballroom floor. I have the utmost respect for her integrity and personal commitment to environmental work. Please enjoy my interview with this inspiring woman. She gives me hope!

Beth: You’ve had a long career in environmental education and activism. And… Read the rest

Reusable Bags & Stainless Steel Bottles: Do our personal changes matter at all?

Note: A version of this post also appears at BlogHer.com. I’m depressed. Down in the dumps. Anxious and overwhelmed. For over two years I’ve focused on personal change: eliminating disposable plastic from my life, reducing my energy consumption, and living as simply as possible. But when I step out my front door, the evidence of overconsumption and waste smacks me squarely in the head: piles of trash, pallets of cheap plastic crap, plastic bags and bottles and packaging. Turning on the TV, I am bombarded by messages to Buy. More. Stuff! Are any of my individual actions making any difference in the bigger picture at all?

Last month, about twenty different people forwarded me an article by Derrick Jensen in Orion Magazine, “Forget Shorter Showers: Why personal change does not equal political change.” I resisted reading it because I feared it would cause me to question the personal actions I’ve been engaged in and… Read the rest

Year 3, Month 2 Results: 3.4 oz of plastic waste

Oh hai. Once again it’s time for another monthly plastic tally. This month was tough, what with all the traveling. And there are several items not even shown in the photo for various reasons which I will list below. My sister suggested I take a break from plastic collecting/tallying during my visit with family in Hawaii, but that feels like it could be a slippery slope. And since this tally has nothing to do with blame and everything to do with education, it’s valuable to see what kinds of situations lead to more plastic waste. That said, here’s the tally.

Plastic used up this week but purchased before the plastic project began: 1 bottle of Hunt’s ketchup & cap. This shows you how rarely we eat ketchup in our home. This bottle has been around for over two years! We finally used it up this month.I have replaced it with a glass bottle of Westbrae Naturals fruit sweetened ketchup. The funny thing is, I bought the Westbrae ketchup… Read the rest

Kayla Bonczek: Starting college and avoiding plastic

I’m still in Hawaii with my family. The following is a guest post from Fake Plastic Fish reader Kayla Bonczek, who is working to reduce the amount of disposable plastic in her life as she starts college. I wish I had been this aware as a teenager!

Hello Fake Plastic Fishes! My name is Kayla and I am nineteen years old. My interest in environmental sustainability began with a trip to Vermont and an AP environmental science (APES) class taught by my favorite teacher, where I was exposed in both instances to a wide array of environmental issues. I could go on all day about these issues, but for this post I will try my best to stick to plastics because this is Fake Plastic Fish.

This past summer has been my first one spent in Texas for some time (I went to high school up north, but grew up down here). I was very fortunate to find a job right away at an amazing family-owned business. When I first started working, I was told that employees were allotted two drinks from… Read the rest

Visiting a Plastic Paradise

I’m here in Waikiki with my family. The purpose of the trip: helping my parents. The reality of the first few days: recreation. Much needed. Walking on the beach. Climbing Diamond Head. Playing games and eating ice cream. But one thing I notice everywhere I turn: plastic. Plastic bottles and plastic trash lying on the ground. But also tiny plastic pieces that have washed up on the beach. Here are a few photos. Beautiful vistas that become heartbreaking on closer inspection. (Click on any photo to see larger.)

Diamond Head — from a distance…

2009 Summer 034Up close…

2009 Summer 031From a distance…

2009 Summer 564Up close…

2009 Summer 038From a distance…

2009 Summer 045Up close…

2009 Summer 044Bellows Beach Park — from a distance…

2009 Summer 072Up close, the sand is infused with tiny pieces of plastic that wash up all down the beach.

2009 Summer 070

2009 Summer 074

2009 Summer 069Last night, we had dinner at the food court in the International Market Place. All the vendors serve food on Styrofoam plates. I circled the food court several… Read the rest

Picnic Basket Crafts Makes Great Plastic-free Products

When I start to feel depressed about the state of the world, I think about you guys, the folks who read this blog, those that I know and those I’ve yet to meet, and I realize how grateful I am to be part of this online community of people trying to make a difference. So I was tickled a month ago when Fake Plastic Fish reader Tiffany, proprietor of the the Etsy shop Picnic Basket Crafts and writer of a blog by the same name, emailed me to ask some questions about plastic packaging.

Tiffany is a school teacher by profession and in her “spare time” sells healthy cleaning and skincare products that she makes herself, trying very hard to reduce the amount of plastic packaging. She doesn’t even use plastic tape, and recently posted a Plastic-Free Green Product Packaging Tutorial on her blog, demonstrating exactly how to use paper tape. But she’s stuck when it comes to containers. As she wrote me,

…I can’t seem to get around… Read the rest

Announcing: School Binder Winners!

Well, I’m leaving for another vacation. This time to Hawaii for a week to help my parents pack up all their crap to move (collecting crap runs in the family.)

Before I go, I want to announce the winners of the school binder give-away:

Guided Products has been kind enough to offer 3 sets of Back to School kits. The winners of the ReBinder School Kits are:

Amanda (you sent me your email address) Lynn Blevins Sarah

The winner of the Naked Binders is:

Natural Mama

And the winner of my old plastic binders is:

Axelle (because she lives near me and can come pick them up!)

Could the winners please email their mailing addresses?

And check back tomorrow because if I can get my act together, I have a new give-away planned.… Read the rest

Let’s Talk Diets & Why Guilt Doesn’t Work.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Diets don’t work.” When it comes to lasting lifestyle changes, radical crash diets certainly don’t work. And I’m not just talking about food. Writers who decide to give up all plastic in one week (as this ReadyMade.com writer did last week) are not likely to succeed in creating long-term sustainable changes either. But there’s another element that can undermine our efforts at changing ourselves and the world: GUILT.

When I asked Fake Plastic Fish readers to take the Show Us Your (Plastic) Trash Challenge, I emphasized several times that guilt is not necessary or even helpful. Did I say this to make you guys feel better so that you’d participate in my little challenge? No way. And I hope those who took the challenge (and those who will take it in the future [have you done it yet?]) will come to understand what I have: that guilt gets in the way of seeing the truth.… Read the rest