The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

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 has a “Green Team” that works to find ways to be more environmentally friendly in the office. We were invited by Wells Fargo employee and Fake Plastic Fish reader, Tanya (of the yummy salmon recipe), to come and present our information to the group. Not only did we have a room full of interested employees, but also several people who dialed in and logged on to NetMeeting to take part in the presentation remotely.

We started a little late due to technical difficulties, so the first part of our presentation, a short history of the invention of plastics, was skipped. We made a few other changes to customize the slide show for Wells Fargo.

We also planned to show the 9-minute DVD, Synthetic Sea. Unfortunately, Wells Fargo’s DVD player would not work. Fortunately, we were able to access this low resolution web version and play it instead. Not as beautiful, but it got the point across.

Do you work for or belong to an organization in the Bay Area that would benefit from a Rethinking Plastics presentation? Please let me know. Now that I’ve gotten the first one under my belt, I’m looking forward to doing more! In fact, I’m scheduled to do a presentation at a high school in a few weeks. Wish me luck on that one. Teenagers scare the crap out of me.

And in related news, another FPF reader, Alice, sent me this link to a recent BBC series on the plastic problems in the North Pacific Gyre as well as the Midway Atoll. It’s well worth watching!

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15 years ago

Hi Beth,

I weep about this as well. Today I am thinking that there is little hope, especially as I walk through any store and see 99% of all things are packaged in some way or another with plastic. As we know it is in the food chain now. I respect what you are doing, but the future does not look good for health and life. I am walkig the tenuous line between acceptance and positive action while saturated with grief. I believe in miracles, but belief isn’t always enough. Regardless, I am still appreciating relationship and really being in the moment. It’s all we have.

15 years ago

good morning, Beth.

thanks for the post! while it made me so upset – it also made me think a lot, too. who knew our plastic waste was there?! it’s just depressing – and i’m turning it around and letting this really motivate me. i’m going to have to get “down and dirty” in my fight against plastics. i’m going to have to step things up. there’s always more we can do – and i’m sad that more people aren’t doing more. i’m glad you’re out there fighting hard!

as always – thanks for a very informative post!

15 years ago

The amount of plastic in that sample is scary. Although I am trying (and failing) to stop buying plastic, I am making all my friends think about what they bring to my house. Slowly getting through to my friends and boring them with my plastic “high horse”! But Green Bean is right it is great that you are going to the greater public to teach people. Thanks for using the BBC link I sent you.

Green Bean
15 years ago


I am so amazed at the work you are doing. Writing a blog is fantastic but getting out there in public like you are doing is grounds for super-herodom. I need to go back and revise my CAPE post! Oh my, a married team of supers. You and Terrible Person are the next incredibles! Your kitties must have super powers as well. :)

But seriously, I’m going to forward this to my hubby and see if I can get him interested in a presentation like this for his work.

terrible person
15 years ago

Here is a danger even greater than the gyre!

christy b
15 years ago

Here’s a great video that gets across a dire message while making you laugh (make sure to watch until the title cards):

15 years ago

Today you really got to me. My son Joel was part of the Alguita crew. He was the unofficial photographer. I got hooked to your blog from reading their blog. I am preparing a talk for Earth day for my school’s ecology club. Many of the photos that I am using are the very same that you are using. I live in Indiana and have decided to tackle this plastic problem here. I teach high school students, don’t be afraid of them. They will react well to your presentation. When I finish my powerpoint, I will send it to you. Keep in touch.

har mar
15 years ago

um yes! it’s called Aunt Ann’s!! come do a lunch presentation over here!! seriously! then you can also pick up your book, soap, and some cuppys!

15 years ago

Beth, thanks so much for sharing your version of the presentation. It’s great to have a tangible idea of what those of us who are concerned could be talking to others about, and how to broach the subject. Look forward to hearing about how these presentations spread and what kind of reception you get. And yay for Tanya for bringing you into such a mainstream workplace!

W.B. Yeats
15 years ago

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The albatross cannot feed its offspring.
Things fall apart, and can only be thrown out, not fixed
More chemicals are loosed upon the world.
The petroleum tide is loosed, and everywhere
The natural products are overwhelmed.
The cheese is wrapped in plastic and the landfills are full of unrecycled recyclables …

Surely some revelation is online.
Surely Fake Plastic Fish is on the Web.
Fake Plastic Fish! Hardly are those words typed in the address bar
When a detailed page by Beth Terry
Fills my screen.
Amidst the valuable information I see
Two shapes with lion bodies and cute faces
Their eyes huge and imploring as a baby’s
Move their little paws
While around them lie scraps of weighed and counted plastic.
Then the page refreshes
But in those moments, I know
That any chance of a good night’s sleep
Was vexed to nightmare by a cat stomping on my face
And what dread beasts, their hour come round at last
Scurry frantically towards the kitchen to be fed?

15 years ago

Uh oh…danger lurks. Imagine a few years from now when you have become the Al Gore of plastic. You will sit back and say in irony, “plastic has been very good to me”

Yes, GMA will be calling you soon, your life will be spent in hotel rooms as you shuttle across the country making presentations. Oprah will mention your upcoming book and we will miss you here on the blog.


15 years ago

No, the teens are exactly who you want to make this presentation to! My 15 yo son reads your blog; he was blown away by The Story of Stuff and Chinese “recycling” videos. I think teens are much more interested and concerned than we realize. Check out this blog
it’s written by 9th graders in New York! I think that’s awesome. It gives me hope (of course, my almost 13yo son only looks at your blog when the kitties make an appearance…)

just ducky
15 years ago

With my being the mother of two bipolar teenage girls, I can say with full authority…be afraid, be very afraid!!!

The worst you’ll experience is the occasional snicker and lots of apathy…however, you will be able to reach some teenagers. Some of them will be very interested–and those few kids will make it all worth it!

15 years ago

I think the presentation looks fantastic. The photos of the trash you selected were perfect….very upsetting. The turtle eating the bag makes me want to cry. No wonder you are so pooped. It looks like you have been a busy gal.

And what fine looking produce bags! (Sorry…I couldn’t resist.)