The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: April 2008

April 24, 2008

Some things I learned from my cats…

Just a few thoughts tonight before signing off for the week. I was watching Soots and Arya (or Suit Scenario, as Axelle calls them) examine the common objects of their lives. They chew on cords. They bat at invisible specks. They jump onto the kitchen counter and invariably knock things off. They drag balls of yarn through the house, creating intricate and artistic messes that I have to clean up. They are way too curious about curly CFL lightbulbs for my comfort, and, as I mentioned yesterday, they are ruining the window blinds in their fascination with all things that move, swing, or make noise.

They are terribly curious and examine every object in their world with fierce intensity. And yet as much as they study and even learn the behaviors of certain objects, for the most part, they will never, ever understand why those objects are here in their world and what they are for. They bumble and break things and don’t understand what they have done.

And… Read the rest

April 24, 2008

My cats are not canaries! (Are they?)

The Environmental Working Group just released a study of toxic chemicals in cats and dogs. Turns out, they are loaded with them. In samples from 20 dogs and 40 cats, they found “48 of the 70 chemicals they looked for, including PCBs, PBDEs, phthalates, and heavy metals….” Levels of some of these chemicals were higher than in humans. So EWG has created a new organization called Pets For The Environment to “create a healthy environment for pets and people by demanding toxic chemical reform legislation in the U.S.”

According to Jane Houlihan, VP for Research at EWG, “The presence of chemicals in dogs and cats sounds a cautionary warning for the present and future health of children as well. This study demonstrating the chemical body burden of dogs and cats is a wake-up call for stronger safety standards from industrial chemical exposures that will protect all members of our families, including our pets.”… Read the rest

April 22, 2008

Earth Day 2008 – Pieces of a World that I Love

Earth Day. I have nothing deep to add to the discussion except these photos that I took today during a walk through my semi-urban neighborhood. I was trying to look at the materials of my world: plastic, wood, cement, glass, cotton, leather, steel, plant, flesh, without judgment or dismay, but simply appreciation. I wish you could smell the coffee at Peaberry’s or hear the rush of the traffic from the BART platform. Earth is not just a beautiful blue and green planet in space or some elusive wilderness. It’s everything, mundane and profound. And it’s every single day, isn’t it?

Click to see photos larger. Enjoy.

Read the rest

April 17, 2008

Announcement – Phone meeting with Clorox tomorrow!

I haven’t posted in a few days. Have been feeling under the weather (as opposed to over the weather? Over the rainbow?) and in between coughs, sending emails to folks to sign the Take Back The Filter campaign petition.

Good news: Just got an email from a representative from Clorox and scheduled a phone meeting for tomorrow at 8:30 Pacific Time. As I write this, we’ve collected 184 signatures on our petition. It’s a great start, but I just know we can do better. If you haven’t signed yet, now’s the time. Can we get 500 by tomorrow morning???

I don’t care if you are not a current Brita customer. You could be in the future if they would take care of their waste, right? And I’m not requiring your email address or even home address (although those are helpful to us to have.) Just name, city, state, zip code.

Sorry to hound you. By next week, I’ll be back to my regular plastic-blogging self. And tomorrow I plan to … Read the rest

April 14, 2008

Brita Take Back The Filter campaign has begun!

Okay, remember all my posts about how frustrating it was that Brita filter cartridges can be recycled in Europe but not in the U.S.? And how we had our water tested and found it perfectly fine without plastic water filter cartridges? Well, giving up water filters was a fine decision for us here in the SF Bay Area where we have some of the best water in the nation. But it’s not a great solution for folks in other areas of North America that may not.

If you’ll recall, I set up a recycle_brita Yahoo! group to plan strategy for a campaign to urge Clorox, the company that owns Brita in North America, to develop a similar Take Back Recycling Program for Brita cartridges here. Now, after several months of writing to Clorox and planning our strategy, I’m happy to announce that the Take Back The Filter campaign has officially begun. Join us in asking Clorox to:

1) Redesign its Brita filter cartridges so that the plastic housing can be refilled rather… Read the rest

April 9, 2008

Lush responds, for what it’s worth

The letter-writing continues. After mentioning Lush solid shampoo and deodorant bars in my post two weeks ago, I received several comments from readers who had mail ordered Lush products hoping to avoid plastic packaging, only to find that the products that are sold “naked” in the store are packaged in all kinds of plastic when shipped through the mail.

So I wrote to Lush. I’m not going to reprint my actual email because I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t very nice. I must have been in a crappy mood when I wrote it, and rereading it tonight, I realize it’s pretty confrontational, which is not the best approach when we want someone to make a change for us. Flies and honey and all that. Nevertheless, the response I got back was very polite. And while I still don’t agree with all their packaging choices, I’m happy that they’ve obviously thought about the issue a lot and are working to get better.… Read the rest

April 8, 2008

National Geographic – Could you be a little greener?

National Geographic publishes the Green Guide, a wonderful source for information on environmentally-friendly living. I’ve consulted the Green Guide often for information from PVC to PFCs. And National Geographic publishes articles on environmental issues, such as “Oceans Awash With Microscopic Plastic, Scientists Say“.

So it was particularly disturbing for me to receive an email from Fake Plastic Fish reader Ashley Christenson yesterday telling me about the plastic “polybag” that the National Geographic magazine comes wrapped in. Ashley wrote a letter to National Geographic and gave me permission to reproduce it, as well as National Geographic’s response here:

March 17, 2008 Dear National Geographic,

I always enjoy receiving the National Geographic magazine in the mail. I find it informative and it has raised my awareness about many important issues. I was glad to see you report on the mass… Read the rest

April 4, 2008

Dairy Wars – Battle of the Milk and Cheese

The last two posts were about coffee. This post is about what goes in the coffee. Well, half of it is. The other half is about cheese. Anyway, I need your input. I confess I haven’t been using my soy milk maker as regularly as I’d planned, opting for cow’s milk in my coffee. (The soy milk maker is a pain to clean, plus I keep forgetting to soak the beans at night.) My question is which cow’s milk is better? The Clover cow or the Straus cow?

Now, before you weigh in, I need to give you all the facts that I am aware of:

Straus Family Creamery is a local certified organic dairy farm in Marin County (not far from me) whose cows are grass-fed and gmo-free. You can read about their healthy farm practices here and their position on GMOs here. Packaging: Straus milk comes in heavy glass bottles that are returned to the store and reused (rather than recycled.) The drawback: a fat non-recyclable plastic cap on each bottle.

Clover Stornetta is a much … Read the rest

April 2, 2008

And still one more coffee post…

Reading the comments from yesterday’s post about coffee, I realized there was a bunch of stuff I forgot to say. So this is Coffee, Part 2. Tomorrow, I’ll get to the white stuff that goes in the coffee.

1) French Press vs. Filtered Coffee: Some readers are advocating the French Press as a filter-free alternative. While this method certainly saves a lot of paper coffee filters, it might not be the best option for those of us with cholesterol issues, like Beth Terry aka Fake Plastic Fish.

High cholesterol seems to run in my family. And the oil in coffee contains a compound called cafestol which raises LDL (the bad cholesterol). Paper filters, and I’m assuming cloth filters, trap much of the oil and therefore reduce the cholesterol-raising properties of coffee. Recent studies have shown that even filtered coffee raises LDL some. But not as much as unfiltered. Here’s an MSNBC article that summarizes the research in terms that … Read the rest

April 1, 2008

Goodbye Plastic Coffee Maker. Hello Porcelain.

Goodbye old friends. You served me well. But did you poison me in the process? I don’t know. Supposedly #5 polypropylene is safe. But that’s what they used to say about your buddy polycarbonate, and look what he’s doing to us! So you have to go. White coffee drip cone, black coffee drip cone, and Braun electric coffee maker with the plastic coffee cone, goodbye. And you, new Melitta coffee filters in the plastic bag, you have to go too. Hope you will all enjoy being with the brave Freecycler who has agreed to take you home, despite the warning in my Freecycle post that I was getting rid of you because I wasn’t sure it was safe to drink hot liquids poured through plastic.

So hello new coffee friends. It’s a good thing I bought you last week before Crunchy Chicken’s Buy Nothing Challenge began on April 1. Too bad you came with a plastic bag of bleached white coffee filters, which the above-mentioned Freecycler is going to… Read the rest