The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: March 2010

March 30, 2010

Gluten-Free AND Plastic-Free?

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This post is not about whether we should consume gluten or not, but how those of us who want to limit our gluten intake can avoid the plastic packaging associated with many gluten-free foods.

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease, eating gluten causes an autoimmune response that leads to serious health problems. For others, gluten sensitivity can cause digestive problems and other symptoms. Now, I’m not a gluten-free gal, but for several months, I did try eliminating gluten from my diet to see if that would resolve some health issues. It didn’t. But it did give me an understanding of some of the challenges of trying to live both plastic-free and gluten-free.

The shelves of most grocery stores these days are filled with gluten-free alternatives. Cereals, pasta, and even cake mixes come in gluten-free versions.

But just look at all that plastic packaging. Even the boxes of cereal… Read the rest

March 29, 2010

Curating the Beach: Just Another Story of Plastic Trash

Last week I learned that you don’t have to travel to Kamilo Beach in Hawaii or Midway Island to find mounds of plastic trash. No, there’s plenty of it just up the California coast at Kehoe Beach, part of the Point Reyes National Seashore. And I got to see it.

Artists Richard Lang and Judith Selby spend their weekends gathering mounds of plastic trash from Kehoe Beach.

From a distance, Kehoe looks pristine. In fact, there are some days when Richard and Judith are all alone on the beach. So you wouldn’t imagine there would be much trash, especially in Marin County where folks are a pretty green bunch.  But get closer, and you’re in for a disheartening surprise.

Because of ocean currents, Kehoe ends up a plastic waste dump every year. And Judith and Richard come there to mine the beach for art supplies and help educate people about plastic pollution. I was fortunate to hang out with them last Monday and collect some plastic trash myself.… Read the rest

March 26, 2010

Green: Are Some Shades More Selfish Than Others?

I’ve been called “dark green” by some of the nicest people. I think what they mean is that because I refuse to buy new plastic and insist that manufacturers should disclose the ingredients in their products, I am somehow more virtuous than most. But you know what? I don’t buy it. I don’t believe there is a spectrum of greenness, but rather that we all have unique priorities. And whereas I might think plastic is the scourge of the earth, others might be more interested in cutting energy consumption or saving water or making sure their kids are consuming healthy foods.

So earlier this month, when the Market Place radio program aired a segment called “Buying green, but not for the planet,” I had to take issue with the implication that unless the reasons for our behavior changes are entirely altruistic, we are somehow selfish.

From the show:

ANDREA GARDNER: First, I have a confession. When I buy environmentally-friendly… Read the rest

March 23, 2010

Get the Antibacterials Out… Of Your Plastic!

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Many of us have seen hand soaps and household cleaners that contain antibacterial chemicals like Triclosan. But did you know many plastic food containers do too?

What’s wrong with antibacterials?

All this germ phobia is actually compromising the immune systems of growing children who need to be exposed to a certain amount of germs in order for their bodies to learn how to fight them off. Antibacterials not only kill the germs that make us sick, but also the good bacteria that help to fight off the bad. These additives don’t actually kill all the bacteria. Just the weaker ones. So in this way, we are actually developing strains of super bugs that are increasingly resistant to the chemicals we use to fight them off. Triclosan is actually a suspected hormone-distruptor.  Not a great chemical to have in our homes — for our health as well as that of the planet.

What about our plastic containers?

So many of us are opting for natural cleaners… Read the rest

March 22, 2010

Cheap Plastic Scale: No Serviceable Parts

“No Serviceable Parts.” That’s what is says on the back of my digital scale. The one I use to measure ingredients for my homemade cat food. The one I use to measure the weight of my collected plastic each month. So, when it broke, it wasn’t like I could just do without it. And I didn’t really want to find a used scale because I wasn’t sure a used one would measure precisely enough. Plus, I couldn’t find one on Craigslist or Freecycle.

But first, I did everything I could to figure out how to get it repaired instead of running out and automatically buying a new one. First I called the company from which I bought the scale. I won’t tell you which company it was, because it’s a small business that doesn’t even sell scales anymore. When I called, I got the actual owner who said something like, “These freaking environmentalists have really done a snow job on you. There is absolutely no problem… Read the rest

March 19, 2010

Silo Ink System: Saves Plastic, Ink, & Money

Back in December I compared various printer ink systems to determine which ones were the most efficient and could save the most plastic, ink, and packaging.  One of the options was the Silo Ink system, which I had not personally tried myself.  While the system itself is made from plastic, it can save more plastic (from cartridges) in the long run for people who use their printers more often that I do.

Fake Plastic Fish reader Sunny Yukon, who wrote a guest post for this blog in June of last year, took the initiative to try out the system.  The following is a comprehensive review of her findings after using the system for a couple of months:

Never have to buy ink cartridges again? by Sunny Yukon

It sounded too good to be true, but boy was I intrigued. In my somewhat remote location, ink refill programs had quality issues, and while a major business supply store will take back cartridges for recycling, they then get shipped out a long way, so I don’t know… Read the rest

March 17, 2010

Captain Moore Paints a Bleak Picture for David Letterman. Now What?

Did you guys see Captain Charles Moore on the David Letterman show Monday night? He laid it all out — the complete picture of what our plastic waste is doing to the ocean and ultimately the food we eat and the climate we depend on — in his usual direct style. I’m amazed that Letterman devoted the entire last two segments of the show to this comprehensive discussion and handled it very seriously. If you didn’t see it, please take some time and watch it now.

Part 1:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zfNSeSPCA8

Part 2:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS5KJgelI_8

Here are some of the main points from the first segment, which for some of you will be review and for others will be revelation:

The trash in the North Pacific Gyre (Great Pacific Garbage Patch) is not a “floating island” as so many people think but is more dispersed.  It’s more like a soup than an island. The trash is 90% plastic. The trash has… Read the rest
March 15, 2010

Kleenex, Neti Pots, Twitter, and Facebook

So I had another nasty cold this weekend. Sore throat. Moving to stuffed up head. And on to coughing, headache, body aches, and the nose from Hell. Honestly, I was blowing my nose at least once a minute. During the worst part, several times a minute. Literally. And contrary to what that word has become these days, I do mean “literally” literally.

Resorting to Kleenex

By Sunday, I had gone through one and a half rolls of Seventh Generation recycled paper. This stuff is great. It’s got 80% recycled content and comes in a cardboard case with zero plastic packaging. (I get the Seventh Generation Bathroom Tissue from Amazon.com.)

The thing is? After one and a half rolls? Not so great for noses. Now let me say, I did consider cloth. And in normal circumstances or for seasonal allergies, I always use a cloth handkerchief. Several people on Facebook and Twitter recommended cut up baby diapers or old receiving blankets. But there are several… Read the rest

March 11, 2010

Announcing the Spring Cleaning: Get the Junk Out! Carnival

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In the spirit of Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff video and book and her emphasis on simplifying our lives, I’m happy to be participating in a new community blog carnival called “Spring Cleaning: Get the Junk Out!”  (If you haven’t yet read my post from yesterday, please check out my interview with Annie Leonard and find out why she only has to be responsible for 1/6th of the stuff that she and her daughter use.)

About the carnival: For the next 10 weeks, each of the bloggers hosting the carnival (listed below) will take a turn presenting a different theme and linking to participants’ posts on that theme.  There will also be a way for you to link to relevant posts on the same theme, whether posts by you if you have a blog or by someone else whose writing you would like to share.

The carnival is the brain child of blogger and Fake Plastic Fish reader Katie from Kitchen Stewardship, and each week, she will post information… Read the rest

March 10, 2010

It’s About Community: A Conversation with Annie Leonard

Do you know your neighbors? Annie Leonard, creator of the viral video The Story of Stuff thinks you should. In fact, she thinks it’s the number one thing we can do to take back our power as citizens and solve our environmental problems.  In this interview, she explains why, and insists that all of us need to be comfortable with speaking up and letting our voices be heard.

I sat down with Annie in her office in Berkeley two weeks ago, just before the launch of her new book, appropriately titled, The Story of Stufffor a conversation with the woman who has inspired millions around the globe.  If you happen not to be one of those millions because you haven’t yet seen the video, please take twenty minutes out of your day to watch it.   Annie is intense, engaging, and explains where all our “stuff” comes from and how it affects us in a way that powerful in its simplicity.

Some analysts say we have less leisure time than any time since feudal… Read the rest