The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: September 2007

September 29, 2007

Weekend radio – Trash Challenge Interview

Wednesday, I had a phone interview with Tess Vigeland of NPR’s Marketplace. You know, Tess from the Trash Challenge. Today, her radio segment on the Trash Challenge included pieces from our interview. You can listen to it or read the transcript here:

Lessons from the trash challenge

The interview was quite a bit longer and included stuff about composting and why I decided to participate in the Trash Challenge to begin with. You can listen to (almost) the full interview here:

Trash Challenge: Into the Dustbin of History

Also, from the Marketplace web site:

“Be sure to tune into all the programs of American Public Media in November for a special project called “Consumed.” We’ll be airing an entire week’s worth of stories and interviews about America’s consumer culture and whether it’s sustainable.

“On Marketplace Money we’ll be devoting our entire show the weekend of November… Read the rest

September 27, 2007

Of Coffee, Crayons, and Crackling Firelogs

Last Sunday at the farmer’s market, a woman asked me if I knew what crayons were made from. I didn’t. So when I got home, I did a little research. Most crayons are made from paraffin wax and pigment. Well, I know what pigment is. And I think I know what wax is. Or do I? So I looked up paraffin wax. Turns out it’s made from petroleum! You probably already knew that. Silly me. I had no idea.

So I did a quick Google search and found several brands of alternative crayons. Here are a few examples:

Lyra natural beeswax crayons Stockmar beeswax crayons Crayon Rocks made from soy wax

After looking up crayons, I started wondering about other things made from wax. Like waxed paper. I’ve seen eco web sites promoting waxed paper as an alternative to plastic wrap. But if they’re both made from petroleum, is there a difference? Does paraffin wax biodegrade? Apparently, it does, according to a study by Fabien Marino of the Department of Chemical… Read the rest

September 26, 2007

Think Outside The Bottle – The World Water Challenge

Pretend you’re walking down a street in Oakland, and I just handed you a flyer. This is what it says:

Corporate Accountability International’s Think Outside The Bottle Campaign The World Water Challenge

Do you care about your right to water?

Join us in our campaign to ask mayor Dellums of Oakland to take a public stand in favor of our municipal water systems and to cancel all of his bottled water contracts by December 2007.

Wednesday, October 3rd 7:30pm Malonga Casquelord Center for the Arts (Formerly Alice Arts Center) 1428 Alice Street, Oakland, CA 94612 Refreshments Provided.

Please RSVP Rachael or call (510) 809-7353

So will you come?

Here’s the background. At the end of Loni Hancock’s Forum On The Health Of San Francisco Bay last Thursday, I met Rachael Goodyer of Corporate Accountability International, a group organizing citizens to press mayors across the country to cancel their cities’… Read the rest

September 25, 2007

Recycling Part 1 – Wait! Are you sure that’s recyclable?

Since I started this project, I’ve run across many misconceptions (including my own) about what is and isn’t recyclable. What makes the issue so confusing is that every city has its own rules about what can and can’t be placed in curbside bins. Some areas require more separation of recyclables than others. Even among a few environmental activists I’ve met, there is confusion about recycling. If they can’t figure it out, how is the average person supposed to? So, here are a few clarifications about recycling that might help:

1) A triangular “chasing arrows” recycling symbol on an item, especially a plastic one, does not mean that it can be recycled! Many, many people make this mistake. The number inside the triangle simply indicates what type of plastic the item is made from and may sometimes be helpful in determining which plastics are and are not recyclable. BUT NOT ALWAYS! For example, my city of Oakland… Read the rest

September 24, 2007

Temescal Tabling and Plastic Pick Up

Yesterday morning, Terry from Green Sangha joined me at the Temescal Farmer’s Market to educate the public about plastic. This time, the information was supplemented by a beautiful display, courtesy of the Marin Chapter of Green Sangha. Please click the top image to see the details of the display. We only had it for this weekend, and now it will have to go back to Marin where it normally lives.

We also handed out resusable cloth produce bags, asking a $2 donation to reimburse Green Sangha’s cost for purchasing the bags. These bags are great for produce because they are thin and lightweight and when dampened, will keep produce fresh in the refrigerator. It was interesting to see how many people who initially refused the bags, saying that they had their own totes, changed their minds when we explained that the totes are great but we’re concerned about the plastic produce bags that fill up the totes. It was nice to see that some people … Read the rest

September 21, 2007

Weekend Challenge: Pick Up Some Plastic

As I walked around my neighborhood today doing errands (I don’t go to work most Fridays), I noticed a lot of trash, mostly plastic, along the sidewalks and in the gutters. And with that photo of the dead albatross whose stomach is full of plastic pieces burned into my brain these days, it’s physically hard for me not to reach down and start picking it up.

I wrote about “eco-running” in the beginning of August, where runners carry bags and pick up trash on the route. And Scott from Least Footprint set up a Google Group called PUP (Pick Up Plastic) Brigade to organize folks to pick up plastic in their neighborhoods.

I picked up a lot of plastic today (bottle caps, plastic bags, drink lids, straws, snack bags, even the face plate from a cell phone and a toothbrush) and used one of the dirty plastic bags I picked up to carry it all and dump it in the trash. And yes, I washed my hands afterwards! I know I’ve said I don’t like to throw… Read the rest

September 20, 2007

Mixed Messages – Assemblywoman Hancock’s Forum on the Health of San Francisco Bay

Last night, I attended a public meeting called “Troubled Waters: A Forum on the Health of the San Francisco Bay.” Along with Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, who presented the forum, the panel consisted of Harold Gilliam, a journalist; David Lewis, the executive director of Save The Bay; Shin-Roei Lee, chief of the SF Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board’s South Bay division; and Dejal Choksi, staff attorney for Baykeeper. They presented information about sources of pollution in the bay, the largest of which is urban runoff, which brings huge quantities of wildlife-harming plastic trash, motor oil, pesticides, and other contaminants into our waterways. A Water Board pilot study found an average of three pieces of trash along every foot of Bay Area streams.

While I appreciated the thought that went into presenting these speakers to us, I was more struck by the irony of what I saw when I first stepped through the auditorium … Read the rest

September 19, 2007

Tess’s Trash Challenge

I just read tonight that Tess Vigeland, of American Public Media’s Marketplace Money, is carrying the trash she generates for two weeks in order to raise awareness of America’s throw-away society.

Read About Tess’ Trash Challenge.

Vigeland is challenging Americans to carry with them all their waste for two weeks. I have decided to sign up for the challenge starting tomorrow (Thursday). I know I’m already documenting my plastic waste, but it will be instructive to see how much non-recyclable non-plastic waste I’m also generating. Hopefully not much at all. And hopefully this will encourage me to to a better job avoiding paper napkins and paper towels and make sure that anything that can be composted is composted.

Here are Tess’s rules for the challenge:

No kitty or doggie poo (it’s a health risk) No carrying into restaurants or malls where I could get kicked out Really smelly stuff goes inside extra… Read the rest
September 17, 2007

Some of my best friends are plastic bags!

Recently, I’ve been reading quite a few anti-plastic bag articles that contain statements like, “Plastic bags are evil,” and advocate taking all your plastic bags to the local recycler and replacing them immediately with reusable bags.

Now, as you know, I’m all for refusing new plastic bags while shopping and bringing my own reusable bags with me. I don’t see any need for the creation of new plastic bags in this world, not with all the environmental problems associated with their manufacture and disposal.

But once a bag has been created, once it’s already here in this world, is it really evil? I don’t think so. In fact, a few weeks ago I posted an ad to my local Freecycle group requesting used plastic grocery bags from anyone who had a bunch they weren’t going to use. Why? Because far from being evil, plastic grocery bags are quite handy.

Look at it this way. If we’re all trying to reduce the amount… Read the rest

September 13, 2007

My Disney Adventure Part 3 – Racing and Riding

Thanks to Michael (er… I mean, the polar bears) for filling in for me yesterday. I’m wide awake and ready to write the final installment of my Disney adventure story. But actually, I’m having a hard time coming up with the words. All I really need to do is talk about plastic and environmental issues at Disneyland and during the Disneyland Half Marathon. But every time I start, I’m stopped by a kind of cognitive dissonance. Part of me is repulsed by the whole corporate engine of Disney and the vulgar consumerism it promotes.

But another part, the little kid that loves dolls and stuffed toys and pretty lights and music, is fascinated by the park itself and all the make-believe worlds within it. I and my inner child had such a good time with our friend David, and his inner child, rushing from ride to ride and laughing and screaming our heads off, that it’s hard to settle down and get serious about recycling bins and plastic containers… Read the rest