The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: March 2008

March 31, 2008

Rethinking Plastics with Wells Fargo’s Green Team

The photo shows a sample of water from the North Pacific Gyre, specifically Sample #23 taken at latitude 34°30.87North, longitude 158°50.93West by the researchers on the Oceanographic Research Vessel Alguita this winter. And that thumb at the bottom of the photo is mine.

Anna Cummins, part of the Alguita crew, sent me the sample to use for Rethinking Plastics presentations. When it arrived last week, I sat down for a minute and wept. Can you see the mixture of plastic and plankton? This is what we are dealing with. This is the bottom of the food chain. It’s probably toxic and can probably never be cleaned up.

Here’s a map showing exactly where the sample came from:

Friday morning, I took my sample with me, along with a Power Point presentation, Synthetic Sea DVD, and other items for “show and tell,” to Wells Fargo Bank to co-present my very first Green Sangha Rethinking Plastics program with Solvig Palm-Nicholls. Wells Fargo… Read the rest

March 25, 2008

Guest Recipe – Tanya’s Steamed Salmon with Wild Rice and Sautéed Spinach

I have 516 messages in my email in-box. 127 of them have not been opened yet. I’m giving a Rethinking Plastics presentation on Friday and am down to the wire working on it. And I’m an accountant and this is tax season! So, here is a beautiful recipe that was sent to me by Fake Plastic Fish reader, Tanya, which requires zero plastic if you bring your own containers for the fish and wild rice. After this post, you might not hear from me again until next week. We’ll see how much I can get done with very little time. Cheers!


Tanya’s Steamed salmon with wild rice and sautéed spinach


Wild salmon (I get mine at Whole Foods – v. expensive but a great treat) Wild rice from the bulk bin at Rainbow Grocery (they have a wild rice mix there that I just LOVE, it’s organic and local!) 1 bunch Spinach (naked of course) 1 clove Garlic 1 lemon (sliced) spring onions (optional) little bit of butter Olive oil


1. Prepare… Read the rest

March 24, 2008

Soap and Shampoo and Deodorant, oh my!

One of the best ways for us to eliminate unnecessary plastic is to eliminate the water. No water = no plastic bottle. The easiest step in that department is to switch from liquid hand soap and bath gels to solid bar soaps. But there are other products that many folks don’t realize come in a solid form, like shampoo, so here’s an update on my experiences with solid soaps, shampoo bars, and even plastic-free deodorant.


Plastic-free soap bars are hard to find in mainstream grocery and drugstores, I will admit. Even Ivory comes packaged in plastic wrap these days. But natural stores like Whole Foods are chock full of Castile soaps wrapped in little to no paper. Dr. Bronner’s is a good choice for many. Right now, I’m enjoying two different solid soaps:

Dessert Essence lemongrass/calendula soaps that I found, believe it or not, on sale at Grocery Outlet for a buck a piece and are packaged with just one strip of paper.

Iyoba Body… Read the rest

March 21, 2008

Update 2 – Urban Composting

Inspired by Life Less Plastic’s excellent Step By Step Composting Guide and info about her Compost Tumbler, and also after many questions from readers about my experiences composting with my Urban Compost Tumbler, I thought I’d post a quick update.

Back in August I wrote a detailed post about the various composting options for someone in an urban environment without access to a yard: Compost Tumbler: a solution to the potting soil problem? So I won’t rehash every option and the reasons why I chose a compost tumbler instead of worms or bokashi. But I will reiterate that I ultimately chose the Urban Compost Tumbler over other tumblers because it is made from 100% recycled plastic rather than new plastic. And I had heard about rust issues with metal compost tumblers.

I’ve now been using this one for over 7 months, and I’ve found it’s not as wonderful as I’d hoped. It’s a little over half full now, and… Read the rest

March 19, 2008

A Rant on Shaving and the Power of Advertising

The next two posts have been inspired by entries on the Life Less Plastic blog. Today’s, by the comments on shaving, and tomorrow’s in response to her post on composting.

So here we go. Back in August, I posted Plastic-free Shaving, Part 1, about my solution for plastic-free hair removal: a metal safety razor from a second-hand store and stainless steel blades. I had intended to write Part 2 after I had tested the various plastic-free shave soaps out there and decided which one worked best for me.

Well, I’ve now tried Simmons, Williams, and Lush Emperor of Ice Cream soap and found them all equally effective. I think any rich soap with a good lather and enough moisturizing oils will work fine. The point is to help the blade travel over the skin smoothly.

So this isn’t Part 2 of Plastic-free shaving. Instead, it’s a comment on my experience shaving this way so far and a rant about the ways advertisers manipulate us into believing… Read the rest

March 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Terrible Person!

Michael’s 40 years old today. Whew! Look how mature he’s suddenly become.

We celebrated by first attending a seminar on “Greening Your Law Firm” followed by a long walk across San Francisco from the Embarcadero to Ocean Beach and back to the Pacific Cafe.

I saw all kinds of plastic stuff to write about, but right now my back hurts and, since it’s still technically the boy’s birthday, I need to go and finish celebrating with him. More tomorrow.

Good night!… Read the rest

March 18, 2008

Blue Vinyl: A Toxic Love Story

I was sick as a dog this weekend and spent all day Saturday on the couch watching videos. Many readers, after reading about my purges (here and here and here) of #3 PVC containers and a MultiPure water filter system containing PVC, recommended Blue Vinyl to me. But I just never had time to sit down and watch it until I was too sick to do anything else.

Wow. Thank you to everyone who recommended this film. And for those who haven’t seen it, run out NOW and get it. Rent it from Netflix, borrow it from the library or from a friend who has it, or buy your own copy to share with your friends.  (If you purchase via links in this post, My Plastic-Free Life earns a small percentage!)  I just ordered mine, as this DVD is one piece of plastic I hope to get a lot of use from.

Watching this film gave me such hope for what we can do as individuals if we put our minds to it. It’s the personal story of the filmmaker, Judith Helfand, who reveals right from the start that she’s… Read the rest

March 14, 2008

Weekly Recipe(s): Dinner in a Pumpkin = Therapeutic Cat Food

The nice thing about pumpkins is that they last a really, really long time. We’ve had this one since Thanksgiving and finally got around to doing something with it. We also had some cabbage that was getting old, so I Googled “pumpkin cabbage recipe,” not really expecting to find much, and ended up with this fun meal called Dinner In A Pumpkin. Apparently, it’s something people serve to their kids on Halloween because, you know, that’s the only time of year Safeway has real pumpkins.

The original recipe calls for ground beef. I opted for ground turkey instead and brought my own container with me to the butcher counter at Whole Foods, where they didn’t bat an eye when I handed it to them. And yes, this container is plastic Tupperware, which I already had. I’d like to find something made of stainless steel for buying meat but haven’t gotten around to looking for an alternative. [2016 Update:  Here’s… Read the rest

March 12, 2008

Hi, there. I want to talk to you about ducts.

This post has only the loosest relevance to plastic. Some ducts are made from plastic. And they would get very dusty if not for the plastic filters which catch much of the particulate before it enters the furnace. Of course, I didn’t know any of this before I read Burbanmom’s post a month ago about how we should be changing or cleaning our furnace filters monthly in order to help our heating systems work more efficiently and save energy.

My first reaction was, “Furnace filter? I didn’t even know we had a furnace, much less a filter to clean. We are renters. We program a little box on the wall to turn the heat up to 65F when we’re home and down to 60F when we’re out or asleep, as per Crunchy Chicken’s Freeze Yer Buns Challenge. Hot air magically comes out of vents in the ceiling. You mean, there’s more to it than that?” So I Googled “change furnace filter” and found many photos like the one… Read the rest

March 11, 2008

Batter Blaster – What’s wrong with this picture?

Batter Blaster. It’s organic. It’s fast and easy. Just squirt into a pan and fry up some pancakes in seconds rather than minutes. What could be better?

I first read about Batter Blaster back in January on the Organic Picks blog. Cindy expressed total disdain for the product, as did I in my comment on her blog where I wrote, “That is just wrong on SO MANY LEVELS!” My comment caught the attention of a certain Associated Press reporter who emailed me for a follow up. This weekend, her story, including my comment, was published by news outlets large and small, from Fox News, AOL, and San Francisco Examiner, to Ventura County Star, The Sacramento Bee, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Bakersfield Californian. All I can say is, it must have been a slow news day.

As I stated in my comment, it’s not like pancake-making the traditional way is a slow process. In this CNet video comparing canned Batter Blaster with traditional batter-making,… Read the rest