The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

May 8, 2008

Let me be your guinea pig, please!

Seriously, if you have created something that you think will help us reduce waste and won’t just add to the mountains of garbage, plastic or otherwise, littering our world, send it my way to try out. But don’t send any plastic packaging or I’m liable to ship it right back to ya. I received two nifty items in the last few weeks, both packaged sans plastic and both very cool.

The first was from Bibi Rogers, who has created a company called 4U2ReUSE. Bibi has sent me several emails explaining how important this project is to her and her vision for a healthier planet. While out on a kayaking trip with her son, they came upon a beach littered with plastic bags, the sight of which profoundly affected her. She wanted to do something to solve the problem. Experience told her that carrying reusable bags was the best choice, but often people forget to bring them. What if they had a cute carrier to store their old plastic bags in so they could reuse them over and over again instead of tossing them after one use? Might this be a way to transition people from plastic to reusable bags in the long run?

Her philosophy of bag reuse matches what I wrote all the way back in August about how we should reuse the plastic bags we already have before running out and buying new reusable bags. Since then, cleaning out plastic bags has become a hassle that I subsequently whined about in December. But you know, I think her idea is right on. Through her work, she seeks to promote the following:

  • Saying NO to new plastic bags
  • Reusing plastic bags already in existence
  • Once plastic bags have been reused, disposing of them at local drop-off points to be collected for recycling
  • Not disposing of plastic bags by picking up pet waste or dumping them in the trash
  • Reducing consumption in general, and making sustainable choices

Bibi called her first plastic bag carrier the Ridley, after one of the world’s smallest, most endangered species of sea turtles. She sent it to me wrapped lovingly in recycled paper with hemp cord inside a plain cardboard priority mail envelope. In her note to me, she says that this is how she will be sending them to all her customers. I’ll admit it took me a few weeks to actually open the package, being busy with so many other things. But honestly, I was enjoying just looking at the wrapping!

Inside is the bag, made from 100% hemp with piping of hemp & organic cotton and handle made from grosgrain ribbon remnants. All her other bags are made from either new organic fabric or recycled materials. Even the instruction tag attached to the bag is printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper and attached with a piece of twine. And the bags are sewn at a workshop in L.A. that employs fair labor practices.

The Ridley is meant to hold up to 10 plastic or biodegradable bags and has a little side opening from which you can pull them out like Kleenex. You can toss the Ridley into your purse or backpack or attach with the strap to grocery tote. Having the Ridley attached to a reusable canvas bag might remind folks to bring their own produce bags back to the farmer’s market or grocery store instead of taking new ones. And another bag, the Kemp’s, is made to attach to a dog leash for storing biodegradable poop bags.

So anyway, I wish Bibi all success in her endeavor. Hers is the kind of business we should be supporting!

And another entrepreneurial diva answered my call when I wrote about how I needed a non-plastic packaged reusable filter for my new porcelain plastic-free coffee maker. Organic Needle is that seamstress and she sent me a filter that works like a dream! Made from 100% organic cotton canvas, this #4 cone filter hasn’t gotten clogged once since I started using it daily a few weeks ago. I just scoop out the grounds into my compost container, rinse the remainder with cool water, and I’m good to go for the next mug.

Yes, it takes a bit more work than using a disposable filter, but think of all the trees saved. If you want to see what it looked like before I made coffee in it the first time, here’s a great photo of the filter as demonstrated by Organic Needle’s trusty assistant. The Internet is just great, isn’t it!

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Etsy handmade and vintage

I only post ads for companies I patronize myself. Your support helps to fund my plastic-free mission.

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Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd
15 years ago

Jack — I think you will find there are tons of metal coffee filters out there. Just Google “metal coffee filter” and whatever the name brand of your coffee machine is…

15 years ago


I was referred here and like what I found. The idea of the organic cotton reusable coffee filter is interesting. My question is would the cotton absorb too much of the flavorful oils that brewing produces. Do you know of an all metal filter in home and commercial size?


Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd
15 years ago

Bibi — the people at Stafford Hygiene have helpfully emailed me back and have said that their Toilet Tissue 36 x 320 Sheet, which comes wrapped in paper, contains approximately 50% recycled content. So I’m now left with the annoying choice of a 100% recycled toilet paper wrapped in plastic or a 50% recycled toilet paper wrapped in paper… :(

15 years ago

We hardly use any plastic bags. But over a couple of months, we still end up with half a dozen. People bring things in them, find them in the local parks, and then plastic bags reproduce.

I totally agree – reuse them. Reuse them a few times :)

15 years ago

Beth, I made my own yoghurt with your recipe and it appears to have worked! One question, though: did you, and do others, find that homemade yoghurt might be a touch stronger than store-bought? Or did I let it sit too long in the thermos? I don’t think it’s *bad* (that’s usually obvious with milk products anyways), but it is a bit more sour.

It was like magic. I was convinced that it wouldn’t ACTUALLY work. I am ridiculously proud of myself, and glad that you gave me the kick in the pants.

Lara Sumiacher
15 years ago

Hi Beth!! I love your blog, it’s so inspiring :-)

Here in Argentina, where I live, very few eco-friendly products are available but I’m trying hard to live greener. Sometime this year I’m going to have my own eco-blog, I hope you have some spanish knowledge so you can read it.
Thanks for the inspiration.

15 years ago

Nice to see peoplt thinking about reusing. I hope they make a good living at it. I jope folks out there can order these items. On your coffee filter- you rinse with cold water- if you rinse it into a pail to collect the water then put on your plants they will enjoy the remnants of your coffee greatly!

The Green Cat
15 years ago

I’ve been using the triangle fold on my plastic bags and keep one or two in every purse. They are so small and convenient and I don’t need to have another thing to put them in. Then again, I usually only carry one or two plastic bags at a time. For folks who like to carry more, this is a great idea.

terrible person
15 years ago

I’ve used my ChicoBag the last two days! It’s utterly convenient!

15 years ago

Agree – both fantastic ideas and products. I love the picture on Organic Needle’s website of the boys playing with the worms.

15 years ago

Wow! Those are both fantastic ideas!

Etsy is so wonderful!

15 years ago

What good products! That first one would be a great way to collect my supply of plastic produce bags that I keep reusing…they explode off of the top shelf in the fridge right now.

We only drink espresso in our house (oh, I know… we are SO cool)… so there is no filter to worry about…b ut that is a really neat filter, too.

Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd
15 years ago

Thanks Bibi — I have sent an email to Stafford Hygiene inquring if they sell recycled toilet paper, but I suspect that you are right and that they don’t.

Regarding the other two links you’ve given me — I am aware of the Natural Collection toilet paper, but it is, unfortunately wrapped in plastic. As for the Cotton Soft — I’m not sure about this one. It says that’s it’s made from cotton waste, but I think I would still prefer to be buying a product made from recycled paper…

15 years ago

Hello Jessica…

after working for about 13 years in English hospitals, and noticing that the supplies on toilet paper came wrapped in brown wrapp paper…take a look at:

but I do not think the toilet paper in this site is made of recycled material….

The irony is that “green” toilet paper comes wrapped in plastic!

Hope it helps


Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd
15 years ago

Completely unrelated to this post, but Beth has given me permission to post this here (whee!) so…

Does anybody know of a source in the UK where I can buy toilet paper that is not packaged in plastic? Pretty please???