The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
March 26, 2013

Meet Ericka, My New Intern!

For nearly 6 years, My Plastic-Free Life has been a one-woman show.  Wait.  That’s not right.  This blog would not exist and would have no purpose and probably no content without all of you.  But what I mean is that in terms of actual blogging, responding to emails and blog comments and forum posts and challenge participants, keeping up with social media, scheduling interviews and talks, and doing all of the other work involved in keeping this ship afloat, it’s just been me.  And I still have to do my accounting job to keep a roof over my head.

erickapicSo it is such a relief to finally have some help this summer.  I met Ericka Alicea a few years ago after giving a presentation on plastic-free living for a class at San Francisco State University.  Ericka will be all over this site, moderating and responding to comments, posting in the forum, responding to email, and conversing on Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites.  She’ll also be working with me to get a Trader Joe’s campaign off the ground finally.  (Yay!)

Here’s a little about Ericka in her own words:

Greetings! I’m Ericka Alicea, Beth Terry’s new intern. I’ll be helping out with managing her blog, I’m currently a student at San Francisco State University where I’m majoring in Geography; my focuses are environmental studies, renewable energy and sustainability. I first met Beth when she gave a talk to my ‘Geography of Garbage’ class. Yes, this is a real class and I wish everyone had the opportunity to take it. I run into plastic challenges everyday and enjoy learning new ways of limiting my plastic consumption and becoming a better steward of the earth. Besides being a student I’m also a home brewer, snowboarder, weight lifter, and dessert maker. I look forward to interacting with members of the blog and hope for the opportunity to even meet some of you.

Please welcome Ericka and leave a comment with any words of encouragement or questions for her.

46 Responses to “Meet Ericka, My New Intern!”

  1. rmm635 says:

    Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator rmm635  
    thanks for sending it but i’m not able to sign it because i’m not a FB member.  i looked for it online yesterday and was taken to petitions that have already closed.  please let me know if there’s a non-FB way to sign it.  regards, risa

  2. rmm635 Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator Hello again! Beth and I met with back in March 2013 to discuss a Trader Joe’s campaign and a petition was created. Did you sign it?
    Let me know if you are not able to sign the petition and I can email it to you.

  3. rmm635 says:

    Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator rmm635  
     many thanks, Ericka.  the one from 2012 is the one i was looking for.  doesn’t look like the campaign got started; please let me know if it has.
     keep up the good work,

  4. rmm635 says:

    Thanks for all you’re doing, Beth.  I’m trying to find the section where you ask about starting a campaign re Trader Joe’s use of plastic to forward to a friend who shops there.  Please advise.

  5. shelleyshell7 says:

    Hi!  I have been avoiding many plastics for several years now and gradually making changes.  Now that I have started to read Beth’s book, “Plastic Free” I am even more aware of everything that is plastic in my house and am wondering about not replacing plastic items.  I wonder if there is an alternative to a plastic bottle brush?  I really need one and I’d rather not buy plastic.  Any suggestions?  Thanks for all this inspiration!

    • BethTerry says:

      Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator shelleyshell7 Hi.  I’ll jump in here.  My favorite bottle brush is made from coconut coir.  This is what I use to clean my Klean Kanteen and travel mug:

  6. Peggy Mastrude says:

    At 82, I have for the past 40 years (living in California – move from New York City) using paper, cardboard, and cloth carrying devices, recycling my small pans of daily dishwater into the garden, scraps to the worm compost, vegetarian since age 9 for animal respect, indirectly from that a cancer survivor of 20 years,  respecter of universal consciousness among humans.  My sense is that fellow beings really want our planet to be cared for.

    Not everyone can stop using products now in plastic.  However, Green Design, BeGreen, Green Products, to name a few already have biodegradable containers.  Can your staff begin with contacting producers of foods in plastic, and persuade a major industry to change to biodegradable packaging – As with the Pharmaceutical Index created recently, everyone wants to be first on the “bandwagon.” Competition has its purpose.  Some company will respond  to putting their products into biodegradable containers, and others will follow.  Lloyd Atler has had success with his Planet Green program of simple and small.  You will be successful with your efforts.

    • BethTerry says:

      @Peggy Mastrude Hi Peggy.  By “staff” I assume you mean Ericka.  She and I are the only staff in this operation at the moment!  But one campaign we can get on is Trader Joe’s.  In fact, the Plastic Pollution Coalition has already created a petition to Trader Joe’s about their packaging.  Please sign and forward.  The more of us speak up, the better.

  7. Jen Blecha says:

    Hey Ericka – this is fabulous!  I’m so proud and happy that our Geography of Garbage class inspired you and helped make this connection with Beth.  You probably know she’s coming in to speak in our class next week. This is really exciting – good for you for pursuing this internship. I’m sure you’ll be a tremendous help to Beth.  – Jen Blecha, SFSU Geography

  8. Joyfully Green says:

    LiveFyre is being wonky and deleting my posts–I’ve had to rewrite it a few times–sorry, Ericka for any double posts!

  9. Joyfully Green says:

    Hi Ericka,
    I wish I could take a course in the geography of garbage (as I’m a bit
    obsessed with the garbage problem–I wrote a blog post called “The Myth of
    Throwing Things Away” and extensively reviewed Beth’s book as well as
    Elizabeth Royte’s Garbage Land). Can you list any books you’ve read for the
    course that you’d recommend? (BTW, here’s the link to the post mentioned, in case you care to take a look:

    • Joyfully Green says:

      Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator Joyfully Green Thanks very much for the suggestions, Ericka! I always love a good book about garbage! (lol) Thanks also for the blog compliments.

  10. Joyfully Green says:

    Hi Ericka,
    I wish I could take a course in the geography of garbage (as I’m a bit obsessed with the garbage problem!) Can you list any books you’ve read for the course that you’d recommend?

  11. Cheryl says:

    Ericka-  What’s your opinion about washing (www.lifefactory,com) the Life Factory glass bottle tops in the dishwasher?

    • BethTerry says:

      @Cheryl Hi Cheryl.  The Life Factory caps are made from polypropylene.  As with all plastics, I would not subject them to high heat.  My personal opinion.  We don’t know exactly what additives are in it.

  12. Eve Stavros says:

    Welcome Ericka!  I’m sure Beth is stoked to have you on board and I look forward to your posts & “meeting’ you through the blog.  As a dessert maker, perhaps you can give us some plastic-free tips for desserts.  I find some ingredients, like chocolate, cream cheese, most flavorings, are hard to find plastic-free alternatives.  I have managed to make a plastic-free tiramisu & posted it somewhere around here… Anyway, welcome!  Eve

    • hannah says:

      Eve Stavros Do you mean unsweetened chocolate? I always find chocolates in bulk at the co-op. Cream cheese you can make easily yourself! Either get (raw) milk and let it sit at room temp until it separates, or you can make yogurt (or buy if you have a plastic free-alternative) and strain it to get the right texture. They both don’t taste just like store bought, but they are both better IMO and I’m sure would be great for baking.

      • Eve Stavros says:

        @hannah Eve Stavros Thanks, Hannah.  I make mascarpone, which I guess I could use instead of cream cheese, since it’s pretty thick.  My homemade yogurt I end up eating before I can strain it for baking use!

    • Eve Stavros says:

      Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator Eve Stavros Cheesecake is one in particular, and ice cream (w/o a special machine). I do buy all flours, sugars, spices, coconut, etc. in bulk.  Flavorings like almond extract are esp. hard to find w/o plastic. For mascarpone, I use 2 C heavy cream, heated to just under a boil, add 2 tbs lemon juice or vinegar, let cook for 5 min.  Then, I pour it into a canning funnel lined w/a coffee filter and let it drain in the fridge for 24 hrs. Just the right amount for a batch of tiramisu.  And then there’s the lady fingers…sigh…which I’ve had mixed results with, but keep trying.

  13. Listy13 says:

    Congrats Ericka

  14. michaeldoughty says:

    Welcome Ericka.

  15. thetastyalternative says:

    Welcome, Beth!  Great to have your here.  :-)

  16. Clif says:

    The few, the proud, the geography majors! I am one too – University of Arizona 1972. Since that was some time ago, I pass the torch to you.

    • Clif says:

      Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator Clif Alas, I was lured into television broadcasting. My geography degree always made me the go-to guy on any trip where map reading was needed – but now with GPS I’m the loneliest guy in town.  : (

  17. Ericka Alicea says:

    Melissa Brown Actually I’m a dessert maker ;) I wish knew how to sew more than just small holes and buttons.

  18. Hollie - Salt Water says:

    Yay for some help! Welcome, Ericka!

  19. H on Lorelei says:

    Hi and welcome Ericka. I am also trying to reduce plastic and stuff in general. I’ve raised two kids, and wish I had learned all this 20 years ago!

  20. Penelope says:

    but those plastic shoes….

    • EcoCatLady says:

      Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator Ha! It didn’t register with me that they were made of plastic… but what are they? They look like some sort of bizarre pogo-stick shoe contraption… Like blade runner feet for people who actually still have both legs? Anyhow… is it a fitness thing? I’m dying to know. Looks like a sprained ankle to me! :-)

      • EcoCatLady says:

        Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator EcoCatLady Holy Moly! What a riot! It does look like fun, but I think I’d still be afraid of coming down wrong – of course I’m terrified of roller blades for the same reason!
        Anyhow, welcome! I look forward to future banter!

  21. Eco novice says:

    Welcome, Ericka! I’m so happy for Beth to have some help to manage her plastic-free empire.

  22. the_leaky_pen says:

    Hey Ericka! Welcome to the blog; and congrats to Beth for having some help! 

    I look forward to seeing how all this stuff grows. <3

    • the_leaky_pen says:

      Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator Stony Brook University. To clarify, the department still exists, but it used to be much larger (and even had an entire separate campus in Southampton devoted to Sustainability Studies). Now it’s operating out of a small office in the library on the main campus.

  23. Melissa Brown says:

    Ooh, a dressmaker. Maybe there will be a post on plastic free sewing? Whether all cotton thread holds up, what to do about plastic bobbins and whatever else.

  24. Ericka Alicea says:

    Suzanne Meyer These are called Kangoo Jumps and are so much fun!

  25. Ericka Alicea says:

    Suzanne Meyer These are called Kangoo Jumps and are so much fun!

  26. Ericka Alicea says:

    Thanks for the great welcome everyone! I feel so honored to be interning for Beth Terry and can’t wait to interact with all of her amazing plastic crusaders!

  27. Ericka Alicea says:

    Thanks for the great welcome everyone! I feel so honored to be interning for Beth Terry and can’t wait to interact with all of her amazing plastic crusaders!

  28. SingleUsePlanet says:

    Hi Ericka! I’m excited that you are going to be interning for Beth!
    I graduated from SFSU in Fall 2010, in Geography, as well. The Geography of Garbage class, which I took in Fall 2009, completely transformed my life. I’m glad to know that the course is continuing to impact people’s lives, and am happy that you are supporting the effort to eliminate plastic.
    When did you take Geography of Garbage? Was Nancy the professor, or Jen?
    It would be great to meet up sometime and share our experiences, and talk about the possibilities of a Zero Waste future. You can find me on Facebook, or twitter @SingleUsePlanet.
    All the best,
    Jessica Connolly

  29. COOL Sailing says:


  30. Debbie Clark Trolsen says:

    Welcome aboard, Ericka!

  31. Jessy V Mills says:


  32. Steven Viterali says:

    Beth going “Big-time”

  33. Suzanne Meyer says:

    Welcome Erika. OK so what do you have on your feet:) seriously.