The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: November 2010

November 29, 2010

Good-Bye Toshiba Laptop. Hello Secondhand Sony Vaio.


Dear Toshiba Satellite S105 Laptop Computer:

I’m sorry I never gave you a better name in the 9 years that we were together. I was so sad last week when I traded you in at CeX in Berkeley for a bigger, faster, more powerful computer. For a second, I thought I might jump across the counter and grab you back from that sales dude who was checking all your buttons and parts to make sure you worked okay. I don’t think anyone else has had their hands on you except for Michael maybe and that computer doctor I brought you to a few times when you crashed. See? I loved you. I didn’t toss you away like most people would after two years.

With you, I learned to blog and create web sites and little Flash videos. Remember that stupid animation we made back in 2003 where we knocked off the Governator’s head with a baseball bat? Good times. And better — you were there when Michael and I got married. You helped me make the DVDs we inflicted on our friends and… Read the rest

November 23, 2010

Green Gifts Don’t Have to Suck


I’m starting to feel anxious already. The start of the holiday shopping season is upon us, with the stampedes of Black Friday coming up in just a few days, followed by the Internet shopping frenzy of Cyber Monday. I tend to put on my Grinch Face and hide at home during the holiday shopping season. I’ve never enjoyed the crowds and anxiety and Christmas jingles that get stuck in your head through the rest of the winter. And with the growing awareness of how our shopping habits impact the planet, I’ve noticed myself becoming just a little smug about my choice to opt out.

And that’s not fair.

Because there are ways to opt out of the madness and still enjoy the season. And gift giving can be a beautiful thing when you remove all the ulterior motives behind gift choices and concentrate on the happiness of all involved. With that in mind, here are my top ten guidelines for happily green gift giving.

1) Surprise is overrated. As a kid, I used… Read the rest

November 17, 2010

Plastic State of Mind Parody Video is extra fun today


Yesterday, L.A. County voted to ban single-use plastic bags. And this morning, Green Sangha — an organization I’ve been part of since 2007 — released an awesome new video by filmmaker Ben Zolno of New Message Media. Watch, enjoy, and please pass it on to your friends. The message is serious.  The medium is total, addictive fun.

(Click here to watch the full size video on Youtube:  For those who can’t hear or who can’t understand the lyrics, the whole thing is conveniently titled, and the lyrics are also printed out on the Youtube page.… Read the rest

November 15, 2010

The Truth About “America Recycles Day”


Today is America Recycles Day, brought to you by The American Chemistry Council, Pepsico, Nestle, and other mega corporations hoping that YOU will take responsibility for the plastic waste THEY produce so they won’t have to.

“America Manages To Toss Disposable Packaging Into The Recycling Bin When It’s Convenient” Day

When most people tell you they recycle, what they mean is that they put their bottles, containers, paper, cans, etc. into the recycle bin instead of the trash bin.  Then, they can forget about it.  That’s not recycling.  That’s sorting.  Recycling is what hopefully happens after the materials are hauled away and  sold to the companies that convert the “waste” materials into new products.  How much of what we put into our recycle bins is actually recycled?  It all depends on the market.

In the case of plastic, most of the material is downcycled into secondary products… Read the rest

November 12, 2010

Show Your Plastic. Make a Quilt.


If you’ve been waiting to join the Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge, this coming week is your chance to not only collect and analyze your personal plastic waste, but also to be a part of a gorgeous traveling exhibit — the International Plastic Quilt Project — which is encouraging people to live plastic-free and to make art from the plastic waste that they do end up with.

I met up with Oakland resident Amy Chovnick last month to be a part of the following video, explaining the idea behind the project and how you can get involved. It’s simple!

Video Link:

The quilt will be displayed on December 2 in Portland, OR, so Cheryl from Create Plenty requests that squares be delivered or mailed by November 22. What have you got to lose? Join the challenge this weekend! Complete instructions are on the Create Plenty web site.

I got a chance to see part of the quilt a few weeks ago at the Mini … Read the rest

November 9, 2010

The Story of Electronics: Planned Obsolescence Sucks


One of the strategies I use to acquire less new plastic is to fix stuff that breaks instead of replacing it with new gadgets and to use resources like Craigslist, Freecycle, and thrift stores to get it secondhand. So I get really irritated when despite my best efforts, I find that my broken gadgets are not designed to be repaired. I’ve ranted about the HP Monitor and the digital scale that I tried to have fixed. I bragged about working with my dad to fix my old hair dryer, but lamented the fact that it wasn’t made to be repaired and that only the fact that my dad is an electronics technician allowed us to open it up and replace the broken part.

Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff Project in conjunction with the Electronics TakeBack Coalition and Center for Environmental Health have just released a new video today: The Story of Electronics. And it explains in 7 minutes the entire toxic life-cycle of gadgets designed for the dump and what we as consumers… Read the rest

November 8, 2010

Plastic is a Social Justice Issue (Van Jones at TEDxGP2)


I’m back from the TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch conference and feeling refreshed.  I’ve got many things to report about plastic toxicity, plastic and animals, plastics legislation, and even a new product that you’ll be excited about.  The videos will be posted on the web in a few days, and I’ll let you know when they’re up so you can experience the event for yourself.

But for right now, I just want to share my notes from what I felt was one of the most important talks of the day: Van Jones on Environmental Justice. (Van Jones is the author of The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.)

How many of us check the number on the bottom of a plastic container to see if it’s one of the “bad plastics” to avoid?  How many are still willing to use #2, #4, or #5 plastics (the “safe” ones)?  Well, besides what I always say… Read the rest

November 5, 2010

Watch it here: TEDx Great Pacific Garbage Patch


Please join me here on Fake Plastic Fish tomorrow (or today if you’re reading this on Saturday) for an unprecedented worldwide web event on plastic pollution. The TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch conference takes place Saturday, Nov 6 from 8:30am to 6pm Pacific Time. I’ll be joining an incredible lineup of speakers, including Dr. Sylvia Earle, Van Jones, David de Rothschild, Ed Begley Jr, Captain Charles Moore, Stacy Malkan, Arlene Blum, and many many others for this one day information marathon covering topics from plastic in the ocean to plastic in our bodies, and covering solutions from personal actions to global initiatives and getting businesses on board. See the complete agenda here. I go on some time after 1:20pm PT.

You should be able to view the live stream in the player below. If you have any trouble, please click to view at

tedxgp2 on Broadcast Live Free

If you’d… Read the rest

November 4, 2010

Good News! October 2010 Plastic Waste Tally

3.7 oz Plastic Waste [3.2 oz new/.5 oz acquired prior to June 2007]

I’ll get to October’s plastic tally in a minute, but first, a little story…

I finally got to deduct some items from my plastic collection! Every couple of months I end up with a plastic bottle of Balance IT cat supplement, which we use in our homemade cat food. I’m fairly okay with that plastic bottle because the homemade food is so much healthier for Soots and Arya and because we only go through one every couple of months. Carrying our own stainless steel pot to the butcher shop for ground meat means we avoid all the cans and bags we would have wasted buying processed food.

Still, the supplement automatically comes with two new plastic scoops in each bottle.

Two scoops every two months might not seem like much plastic when you consider that all the scoops pictured up above (from multiple years) only weigh 2.1 ounces. But what irritates me is that just like the plastic… Read the rest

November 1, 2010

Reusable Cloth Sandwich / Snack Bags Review


[January 2014 Update:  Sadly, my favorite cloth baggie company, Graze Organic, went out of business this year.  I’ll be working on an updated post about reusable cloth baggies in the near future.]

Disposable plastic sandwich and snack baggies are some of the biggest sources of lunchtime waste. When I was growing up, I brought at least two or three of them to school every day: one covering my sandwich and a couple more protecting my carrots and Cheese Doodles. But we have a ton of reusable cloth baggie choices now. All of them are better than disposables. But they are not all created equal. Here’s the rundown…

Graze Organic Cotton Sandwich/Snack Bags

I love the Graze Organic bags because not only is the fabric natural cotton without any plastic lining, but it’s also organic. The bags come in several different sizes to fit sandwiches and snacks. While they may not be as leak-proof as plastic-lined baggies, I believe they… Read the rest