The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: May 2011

May 31, 2011

Guilt and a Green Conscience


A week or so ago, I asked you to leave a comment about one thing you feel guilty about — an ecoconfession — to enter a surprise giveaway. The prize is a copy of Franke James’s illustrated book, Bothered by My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, imported-strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green.

But I asked the question about guilt for another reason. A while back, reading through ancient posts from a long-ago blog I used to keep, I came across a piece I wrote called, simply, “Guilt.” It’s heavy duty. It was written during a pretty bleak time in my life, a time long before plastic-free living and eco-activism. A time when I didn’t know where I was going and couldn’t manage to do much to figure it out.

Here are a few excerpts. You can read the entire post here, but be warned that it’s not pretty and some bits might even make you angry.

I’m depressed. Me and half the country. But I work only 3 days… Read the rest

May 24, 2011

Irritated with Plastic Berry Containers? Give Them Back.


How do you buy berries and cherry tomatoes without plastic? Most small fruits come in those green plastic mesh baskets or increasingly in clear plastic clamshells. If you shop your local farmers market, it’s not a problem. The farmers want their containers back!

Save Plastic, Help a Farmer

This weekend, at my local Temescal Farmers Market, I brought back my cherry container (which happened to be cardboard) as usual to ask the farmer to reuse. I’ve always thought the farmers were making an exception for me and my plastic-free ways. But wandering around the market, I realized I was doing them a favor. Every farmer had a stack of baskets and containers that had been returned to them.

The egg vendor has always taken back his molded pulp egg cartons.

But I noticed the strawberry vendor had a stack of used green baskets collecting behind her stand.

The blueberry vendor told me he doesn’t even give his plastic containers to customers. Instead,… Read the rest

May 20, 2011

Reusable cotton rounds beat cotton balls in plastic or paper packaging.


Cotton balls come packaged in plastic. So do cotton facial rounds. And even organic cotton balls come in plastic. So I’d pretty much given up using either of them after my last bag ran out a few years ago.

And then, in March, I discovered cotton balls in a cardboard box at CVS. I checked inside the box to make sure there wasn’t a plastic bag hiding in there. Nope. A paper bag. I got all excited and bought a box.

But as I walked home, I started to think. And the more I thought, the less excited I got. First of all, the packaging might not have been plastic, but there sure was a lot of it. Double packaging — box AND bag. It didn’t seem like such great alternative to the plastic after all.

The problem with cotton

And then I started thinking about the cotton balls themselves. I could get organic cotton balls in a plastic bag, but the cotton in this box was not organic. And, according to the Organic Trade Association:

Cotton is considered the world’s… Read the rest

May 16, 2011

Eco-Friendly Toothbrush Review


08/24/2013 Update: My new favorite bamboo toothbrush is called Brush with Bamboo.  Read the full review here.  It wasn’t around back when I wrote this post.


What toothbrush would you choose? Recycled plastic in returnable packaging or natural wood packaged in plastic? Nylon bristles or natural pig hair? Or how about a stick that you chew on? I’ve been researching toothbrush alternatives and found that they all have pros and cons. How you brush your teeth will depend on your environmental and ethical priorities, I think. There’s no perfect answer. Which would you choose?

Preserve Recycled/Recyclable Toothbrush

Materials: 100% post-consumer recycled polypropylene #5 plastic and Nylon bristles. Recycled plastic wrapper which doubles as a prepaid mailer.

Origin: Made in the United… Read the rest

May 13, 2011

Winners, Answers, Discount, and New Weekend Giveaway


So many giveaways. So many winners. There’s one more quick weekend giveaway at the bottom of this post, and an announcement for next week.

Show Your Plastic Challenge Winner

In the beginning of the year, we held a Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge contest. Those who participated for a month were entered to win a beautiful gift package from Ambatalia Fabrics. That winner is Sarah Schmiechen from Indiana. Here she is with part of her winnings from Ambatalia. Of the challenge, Sarah says,

I’m very excited about this prize because one of the hardest things for us to reduce during the challenge was plastic produce bags. We’re going to start keeping a lot of the cloth bags in the car and hopefully that will help! I loved doing the challenge regardless of the prize though – it’s really made some permanent changes in the way we do things on a day to day basis at home (for example, no more Brita filters, no more paper towels, buying… Read the rest

May 11, 2011

Gardening Without Plastic, Part 1: Raised Beds and Plastic-Free Soil


Last Fall,’s Dana Blinder forwarded me a cool article: Keep Your Garden Plastic-Free with These Easy Swaps. Knowing that I write the blog My Plastic-free Life, she thought the topic of gardening with less plastic might be interesting to me and my readers. What she didn’t know was that I had already failed miserably in the gardening department several times and wasn’t sure gardening was my thing. That’s when we came up with a brilliant idea. Rodale would teach me how to grow an organic garden, and I would figure out how to do it with the minimum plastic possible.

My guru for this project is Rodale’s Eric Hurlock, Associate Online Editor for Organic Gardening. First, I sent him photos of my postage stamp front yard, the only space available for a garden. (My neighborhood in Oakland, CA, is in Zone 8B, according to the USDA Hardiness Zone Finder.)

I explained that the yard is basically hard clay that is overrun… Read the rest

May 10, 2011

January – April 2011 Plastic Waste Tally

15.4 oz Plastic Waste [11.9 oz new/3.5 oz acquired prior to June 2007]

Someone commented a while back that my plastic trash tallies were getting boring because there was so little each month and it all looked the same. After 3-1/2 years of collecting plastic, I was kind of getting bored too. So, here’s 4 month’s worth, all saved up. It might be boring, but at least not as often. :-)

Beth’s January through April 2011 plastic waste collection

Plastic purchased before June 15 2007 and used up in the last month (3.5 oz):

4 plastic spice bottles, 4 plastic lids, 2 plastic shaker tops. Still using up spices in plastic containers and filling glass jars from the bulk bins when I need to restock. Plastic lid from metal spice container. SIM card from old mobile phone. Sold the phone. Venus razor cartridge. As you know, I use a metal safety razor. But I did keep my old plastic Venus razor and a few cartridges for traveling. Double-edged razor blades… Read the rest
May 5, 2011

Save Plastic. Don’t Break Your Laptop Monitor.


What is an LCD monitor made of? And what do you do if it breaks? I learned the answers to these questions the hard way.

The Stupid Thing I Did

Laptop monitors break easily, as I discovered a couple of months ago after closing the lid down on a couple of earbuds I had left on the keyboard. The ironic thing is that I had done it on purpose, trying to protect my expensive thinksound earbuds from my niece’s dog while I went to the bathroom. I learned that a laptop monitor is way more expensive than a pair of earbuds, and that the best option would have been to simply put them away in their case.

My heart sank when I opened my laptop back up and watched the words drizzle down the screen into a single black puddle. I’ll admit it looks kind of artistic in a minimalist way, but not very useful.

Crap!  I just got this computer in November, and I’ve already ruined it!

Thankfully, Michael still had an ancient desktop computer monitor I could connect to and keep… Read the rest