The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: August 2007

August 15, 2007

Store Report: Rainbow Grocery

I’ve mentioned Rainbow Grocery in quite a few posts, and now I’m going to explain it, so those folks who are not lucky enough to live in the SF Bay Area will know what I’m talking about. Rainbow Grocery makes me wish I still lived in San Francisco. There’s a certain familiar smell and feel that I can only describe as “crunchy” that takes me back to the early 90’s when I’d first moved to San Francisco from Maryland and everything was new and wonderful. And even though Rainbow is no longer in its former location in the Mission District, it still has the same dreadlock-sporting, tattoo-wearing, shaved head, tie-dyed, just rolled out of bed looking staff and customers that make me feel so at home. (Even though I don’t actually look like any of them anymore.)

See the “staff” are all owners of this co-op grocery store, as well as workers. So it’s like it kind of is their home, sort of.… Read the rest

August 14, 2007

Success! My letter to Comcast

Just because I think plastic bags should be re-used multiple times doesn’t mean I want new ones literally showing up on my doorknob, but that’s just what happened a few days ago. I came home to find this advertising piece from Comcast hanging there in a plastic bag. Talk about instant irritation! “Holy crap!” I shouted to no one in particular. “I go through all this effort to bring my own bags so I don’t have to tote new ones home, and then the bags start coming to me!”

Well, I hadn’t written one of my busy-body e-mails in a while, so last night I sat down to do just that:

Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2007 00:25:20 -0700 (PDT) From: Beth Terry Subject: Consumer complaint regarding Comcast promotional door-hanger To:,,

Hello. I am a Comcast cable television customer.

A few days ago, I was dismayed… Read the rest

August 13, 2007

How to host a plastic-free potluck summer party

Do it like Mea and Jerry of Draper Farms did it this past Saturday night.

1) Invite 100 of your closest friends to your organic farm in beautiful Marin County, CA. (Or 20 friends to your house in the burbs. Or 2 people to your studio apartment in the city. The size of the crowd and the location is no object here.)

2) Arrange long tables outside (or small tables inside) with cloth tablecloths. You can pick them up at a thrift store or Freecycle if you don’t want to use your nice ones outside.

3) Ask your guests to bring a plastic-free dish to share. (Mea and Jerry did not actually request plastic-free in their invitation, but surprisingly, there was very little plastic waste at the end of the night. It must be a testament to the types of friends they have. Others of us might not be so lucky.)

Michael and I brought a pasta salad (spiral tri-colored pasta, olive oil, lemon juice, jalapeno-stuffed olives, cherry tomatoes, roasted orange & yellow peppers,… Read the rest

August 9, 2007

Woman drinks wine, unwittingly threatens endangered animals

I love wine. I really do. And I’ve drunk a fair amount of it during the weeks since I started my plastic project. But it wasn’t until I read this article a couple of days ago that it occurred to me that some of the wine corks I’ve pulled have been made of plastic! And those plastic corks didn’t even make it into my weekly tallies. Good lord, was I drunk or something??? How could I have missed them?

Fortunately, I like to save my wine stoppers, so I was able to pull out my collection and count them up. For the record, there are 31 cork stoppers and 11 plastic stoppers: 26% plastic!

So why are plastic corks, in addition to all the usual plastic problems, threatening endangered animals? Because they compete with natural Mediterranean cork forests, which not only provide humans with stoppers for their various libations, but also provide unique habitat for some of the world’s more unusual creatures, such as the Iberian Imperial … Read the rest

August 7, 2007

Eco-Running: leaving the route better than you found it.

26-year old Samuel Huber started what he calls “eco-running” as a way to help the world while out doing his favorite thing, running. On his eco-runs, he carries a few small garbage bags and picks up litter all along the route. Recently, he has made the switch to biodegradable, compostable BioBags. Check out his website and mention of BioBags and this blog, Fake Plastic Fish, at I want to not only commend him for his efforts but join in the eco-running movement he’s trying to start. So, this morning, BioBag in hand and latex gloved, I did a 30-minute eco-run towards Berkeley and back. My bag was full within the first 12 minutes, and I found I needed to stop picking up big things and concentrate on the items that, if washed down a storm drain, could end up inside the bellies of marine animals: bottle caps, small toys, a comb, a pacifier, plastic bags, even a rubber glove.

Stopping to pick up garbage slowed… Read the rest

August 6, 2007

Compost Tumbler: a solution to the potting soil problem?

Good lord, what is that Death Star looking thing on your roof, Beth?

No Worries. It’s my new Urban compost tumbler and tea catcher [2019 Update: It looks like this compost tumbler is no longer manufactured.  Try here for other recycled CompoTumblers.] ready to devour food, garden, and some paper waste and deliver rich, fragrant compost… in 2-6 months, depending on how diligent I am in feeding it.

But it’s made of (gasp) plastic!

That’s right. 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. The only part that is not recycled is the tea catcher, and I’m having a few regrets about ordering that part. Seems like I maybe could have figured out another way to catch the compost leachate without buying a brand new piece of plastic. Well, live and learn.

So, how does it work?

Glad you asked! Simply add your “green” (fresh leaves, grass, food scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, anything wet and pungent) and “brown”… Read the rest

August 5, 2007

Is your water cooler messing with your hormones?

Check your plastic water cooler bottle. If you see a 7 inside the chasing arrows recycling symbol, your cooler could be leaching chemicals that disrupt hormones and possibly cause cancer. (This is the kind of cooler we have where I work. I think I’m going to start drinking tap water.) Read the following article published 3 days ago:

Scientists issue warning about chemical in plastic By Marla Cone, Times Staff Writer 6:49 PM PDT, August 2, 2007

In an unusual effort targeting a single chemical, several dozen scientists on Thursday issued a strongly worded consensus statement warning that an estrogen-like compound in plastic is likely to be causing an array of serious reproductive disorders in people.

The compound, bisphenol A or BPA, is one of the highest-volume chemicals in the world and has found its way into the bodies of most human beings.

Used to make hard plastic, BPA can seep from beverage containers and other materials. It is used in all… Read the rest

August 2, 2007

Be careful on the Reusable Bags Bandwagon

With the recent surge in anti-plastic bag sentiments, a lot of folks are jumping on the reusable bags bandwagon. I think it’s great that people are starting to give a thought to the bags that they use to carry their purchases home. But not all bags are created equal, and I wish more people would think about the type of reusable bag they choose, rather than rashly purchasing the cutest thing they see in another expression of thoughtless consumption.

I’ve been thinking about the issue of reusable bags for some time, but I am moved to sit down and actually write this out tonight after reading a review of Reisenthel’s nylon shopping bags on The reviewer says that she was glad to find the compact, foldable Reisenthel bags, made by a German company, because she sometimes forgets to take her large Trader Joe’s tote bag with her and ends up with a collection of new plastic bags from the store. With the Reisenthel nylon… Read the rest

August 1, 2007

SoyaPower to the People

My SoyaPower soy milk maker arrived today, and I made my first batch of homemade soy milk tonight. (The dried soy beans have to soak for 8-10 hours, so I put them in water this morning and made the soy milk when I came home.) This is a magical piece of kitchen equipment. You put in water and the soaked beans, press a button, and 15-20 minutes later, you have soy milk. And it tastes good. And the texture is smooth. After it cools, you can add sweetener or any other flavors you want. But actually, I tasted the unsweetened soy milk tonight, and I have to say it’s quite refreshing without anything else added.

Okay, so you want to know about the plastic and the packaging? That, after all, is what we’re here for, right? First the good news. Sanlinx, Inc ships the soy milk maker in its own box, so there is no extra packaging. Inside the box holding the machine in place are molded paper pulp forms rather than styrofoam.

Now, the plastic news. Plastic inside the … Read the rest