The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: August 2008

August 29, 2008

E+Co pencils not so eco, actually.

I’ve become an honorary member of the Green Moms monthly blog carnival, which was great last month when the topic was global warming and I had to learn all about how waste is related to climate change. This month, however, the topic is “Back To School,” and I almost decided to bow out. I don’t have kids. I don’t go to school. And every other post I receive in my email box lately has something to do with the topic, so I felt I had nothing to contribute.

Nothing, that is, until I went shopping at Long’s with my friend Axelle on Friday, after taking Hobble to get her stitches out. (We put her cat box in the cart and let her ride through the store with us!) For some reason we found ourselves browsing in the school supplies aisle. Axelle was looking for… um… I can’t remember. And I was marveling at all the plastic plastic plastic. Until I spied a plain cardboard box of pencils called E+Co by Pentech. The box didn’t… Read the rest

August 27, 2008

Compostable Containers – Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

This is a photo of a few things I brought home from the Outside Lands Music Festival Friday night: Two compostable cups made from corn and two compostable potato or cornstarch spoons. (Mine and my friend’s.) As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I forgot to bring my cute reusable bamboo utensils with me. And I didn’t think to bring a cup for wine either so felt lucky to find compostables rather than plastic or Styrofoam.

When I took my compostable cup back to the wine vendor for a refill, the server said, “It’s okay. You can have a new one.” Yeah, I can. But why should I? Just because an item can be composted, does that mean we have to compost it after one use? Just because an item is recyclable, does that mean we are compelled to recycle it immediately?

In yesterday’s post I whined about the “recyclable” plastic wine “glasses” being handed out in the WineHaven tent. Of course we know that… Read the rest

August 26, 2008

Searching for plastic-free water at Outside Lands wears me out.

I love music more than ice cream. Even more than fudge sauce. And to me, the band Radiohead is like magic. I don’t understand how they make the exquisite and sometimes excruciating sounds that they do. I just know that as long as there are humans on this planet whose organized noise can move me to tears every single time I hear it, there must be hope for us.

So for a few months, I’ve been really looking forward to seeing my first Radiohead show live at the SF Outside Lands music festival in Golden Gate Park. And I was also pleased that this festival was being billed as a green event and planned to visit a section they called Ecolands, where there would be all kinds of “green” organizations and vendors measuring carbon footprints, collecting recycling (including old cell phones), and serving up organic food.

So I wasn’t really worried when I got to the festival entrance on Friday and was asked (after my bag was searched) to empty… Read the rest

August 22, 2008

Dear Financial West Group,

August 22, 2008

Financial West Group 4510 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Westlake Village, CA 91362

Re: Account #[omitted]

Dear FWG:

In January of this year, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to move my retirement savings into socially and environmentally responsible investments. To that end, I signed up with The Social Equity Group in Berkeley, CA to ensure that my investment funds are used to help protect the environment. In order for that to happen, my investments held by Schwab and by ING were moved into an account with Financial West Group.

The irony is that I have moved my money from two companies that save paper by offering a paper-free online statement option to one that is still sending out paper statements. But a rep at FWG explained to me that there are legal regulations and hurdles to jump through before investment companies are allowed to offer paper-free options, and FWG is in the process of making that happen.

That is good news. However,… Read the rest

August 20, 2008

Product tames frizzies without synthetic chems or much plastic

So, you know I switched to the no ‘poo method of hair cleansing a couple of months ago, and it’s been working fine. But I do have the occasional frizzy hair day. I still have over half a (plastic) container of TRESemme styling putty that I purchased long before I stopped buying new plastic, but I quit using it months ago. First, because it contains 25 ingredients, many of which I cannot pronounce, and second, because once I started “no poo” I was worried it wouldn’t wash out properly.

So I was happy to receive an email from Rachel Whitman of the company The Name Is Product asking me to try out her… um… product. It’s a hair styling aide that claims to defrizz, texturize, soften, condition, and glisten using only 5 ingredients: “organic shea butter, pure aloe vera, natural source vitamin E (tocopherol), organic beeswax, and natural fragrance [which turns out to be tangerine oil].”

Now, … Read the rest

August 19, 2008

Tara’s Organic Ice Cream – Their trash can is empty!

Michael was terribly excited last week to tell me that a new shop had opened in our neighborhood combining two of our biggest passions: ice cream and zero waste. “You have to come see and bring your camera so you can write about it!” He’s not often so emphatic about what I post on my blog, so I figured this must be serious!

We joined up with a couple of other ice cream-lovin’ friends on Sunday and headed up the street to Tara’s Organic Ice Cream, which just opened a week ago on College Avenue (near where Safeway wants to build its mega monstropolis.) And sure enough, the boy was right! The ice cream is awesome, certified organic, but even better, the shop offers only durable or compostable containers and utensils.

The spoons are metal (for eating in the shop) or made from potato starch (for taking to go.)

Even the little tasting spoons are made from metal.

The bowls and containers are either durable dishes, like this one that … Read the rest

August 15, 2008

Oh goody! BPA in my mailbox!

I received the following gem in my home mailbox last week:

The American Chemistry Council is bringing out the big guns and trying to frighten Californians into opposing the state’s proposed ban on Bisphenol-A (an additive in polycarbonate plastic and in the plastic lining of most food cans) in containers and canned foods meant for babies and toddlers.

The industry’s scare tactics include the following language, “Soon, many common, everyday products could disappear from grocery store shelves across California,” and “Your favorite Products May Soon Disappear.” The brochure urges recipients to call their Assembly Member and ask them to vote no on SB1713.

The brochure shows photos of women shoppers looking at various products they’ve picked up from the shelves. Only one of these products is a can. The other two appear to be boxes, which wouldn’t contain BPA in the first place. AND none of … Read the rest

August 13, 2008

Guest Post – A peek at plastic in Barcelona

In May, I wrote here about Bibi Rogers, who created the company 4U2ReUSE to try and help reduce plastic bag waste. Bibi just got back from Barcelona, Spain, where she noticed waste reductions efforts as well as areas for improvement. I thought it would be cool to have her share her story here, as she is passionate about finding solutions to the plastic problem. A round of applause, please, for Bibi!

I recently traveled from my current home in Delray Beach, Florida, to my hometown, Barcelona, Spain. It was an important trip: In addition I was going to reveal to my dear mum that after all those years in medical school, surgical college, earning my PhD, I decided to join the anti-plastic campaign. I’d ditched my job as a surgeon and founded a company called 4U2ReUSE to sell plastic bag carriers on the Internet, encouraging people to reuse their existing plastic bags instead of acquiring new ones, and raising awareness about the adverse effects plastic… Read the rest

August 12, 2008

Dear Music Today Feedback Department…

August 11, 2008

Music Today Feedback Department 5391 Three Notched Road Crozet, VA 22932

Dear Music Today:

I am returning to you this plastic padded mailer in which I received my ticket for the Outside Lands concert. I am trying very hard to reduce my plastic consumption and overall waste, and while I appreciate your wanting to get my ticket to me safely, I do believe that this package is a bit too much protection. My paper ticket is certainly not going to break during shipment.

I feel very strongly that care for our environment depends upon both sellers to reduce the amount of packaging and shipping materials they use and consumers to choose products with the least packaging. While shopping, I bring my own reusable bags to avoid taking disposables. I also carry tap water in a reusable bottle to avoid plastic bottle waste and bring my own containers for take-out food.

Plastic, as I’m sure you know, is made from fossil fuels and is not biodegradable.… Read the rest

August 11, 2008

Suddenly Sustainable

I asked Michael, the Latin scholar, what is the derivation of the word “sustain?” He said “to hold up from underneath.” Pretty smart, that guy. The Online Etymology Dictionary says almost the same thing. Why did I ask? Because the topic of a recent blog carnival was, “What does living sustainably mean to you?” So I thought I’d start by digging up the roots.

You might assume I would write about how unsustainable plastic is. It’s made from a non-renewable resource, its manufacture often leads to pollution of our air and water, it may contain toxic additives that can leach into our food, and as waste, it lingers in the environment indefinitely harming wildlife and attracting oil-based toxins that accumulate up the food chain. No, plastic is not sustainable, and that’s why I am working very hard to lessen my dependence on it and to find plastic-free alternatives.

But that’s actually… Read the rest