The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: September 2008

September 30, 2008

My little plastic-free veggie garden

Sorry for the quality of the photos. For some reason, my camera and the sun would not cooperate last week when I took these. Anyway, here’s my very little front yard garden grown almost entirely without plastic. Yep. Little. And late. Because I didn’t get started until June. But it is what it is, and maybe you can offer some advice for next year.

If you’ll recall, the soil/fertilizer for my garden is a mixture of front yard dirt, my own homemade compost, and recycled potting soil from my dismantled roof garden. No new plastic bags of anything.

On the left are my four tomato plants, which are probably way too close together. They arrived plastic-free from my friend Jennconspiracy in little coconut coir planters. I removed them and tossed the planters in the compost. Then later found out I should have put the whole thing into the ground.

I was mocked and derided back in June for thinking that I could use one metal cage for four plants. I had… Read the rest

September 25, 2008

Fake Plastic Holidays

Walk into the local drug store (this happens to be Walgreens on Powell Street in San Francisco) in September, and this is what you find:

We know this. It’s not news that Halloween has become a big plastic party. And it wasn’t so different when I was a kid in the 70’s. Plastic-wrapped candy in plastic bags and fake plastic costumes, which my family scorned because we always made ours from scratch. (“Do you think that kid’s costume is homemade or store bought? Looks like store bought. Lazy.”) And it wasn’t just that our mom had so much more time to make costumes than other mothers who worked outside the home because when we got a bit older, we all made our own, cobbled together from whatever was around the house.

The rest of the holidays are no better. Fake plastic jack-o-lanterns are replaced with plastic-lined cans of pumpkin pie filling (read: BPA) because god forbid anyone should clean out and bake an actual… Read the rest

September 24, 2008

Sitting with a plastic water bottle

Yesterday, Allie wrote about the problem of keeping hydrated while traveling. Not realizing she could carry her Kleen Kanteen through security, she ended up purchasing bottled water. And apparently, she is far from alone. A couple of days ago, USA Today published an article about the environmental issues around bottled water production and waste that begins with the author’s troubles at the airport.

Last night, I encountered this dilemma in a very unexpected place: a meditation hall. My friend Nancy and I went to sit with and hear a talk by teacher Pamela Wilson, given at a Unitarian Church in Berkeley. I’d had a stressful cab ride over and was happy to sit and relax into the moment, take a breath, and slowly open my eyes as Wilson began to speak with the audience. Her voice was calm and serene.

And then… oh my god!

She pull out a disposable plastic water bottle and…

holy crap! drank from it!!!!

What do you do when reality is right… Read the rest

September 23, 2008

Guest Post – Allie’s Plastic Confessions

The following is a guest post by Allie of The Greenists (formerly Allie’s Answers).

While I’m certainly not in the Fake Plastic Fish tier of plastic reduction, I do a pretty decent job limiting the amount of plastic that comes into our home. But on our recent vacation in Washington State, I realized that it’s a lot harder to keep the plastic under control away from home.

I hadn’t flown in about 4 years, and the regulations for carry-on items have changed since the last time I’d been in the air. I knew bringing beverages through the security checkpoint wasn’t allowed, so I figured I couldn’t bring my Kleen Kanteen. I thought about packing it, but worried that a big metal object in my bag might call it out for inspection. I feel a little stupid for leaving it at home, especially since our bags got pulled for inspection anyway, and a friend in Seattle told me she brings her empty Sigg with her through security all… Read the rest

September 18, 2008

Brita Subvertisement: a gift that dropped into our laps tonight!

Please don’t let me interrupt the conversation happening on the previous post. I’ve been reading your comments, even though I don’t really have time to respond right now. But I just had to jump in and tell you about a wonderful gift that the Take Back The Filter campaign received today.

First, have you seen the Brita filter ads discouraging bottled water that go “X minutes in/on the XYZ, Forever in the landfill”? For example, a woman on a treadmill with a disposable plastic water bottle that goes, “30 minutes on the treadmill. Forever in a landfill.” If you haven’t, it might be worthwhile to check them out here.

First, I am not disparaging Brita’s campaign. If it’s helping to slow the sales of bottled water, I am all for it. But as you know, the plastic Brita filters are also not recyclable, which is why we started the Take Back The Filter campaign to urge Brita to create a way to recycle the… Read the rest

September 17, 2008

Learning to Sleep

Why would anyone have to learn to sleep? The body does it naturally. When the lights go down, melatonin kicks in and we get sleepy. Then, we go to bed, right? Except, in this day and age with computers and artificial light, melatonin doesn’t necessarily kick in. And when you’ve got genes like mine (father, sisters who stay up all night) the sleep deck is stacked even further against you.

Clif has ocassionally noticed the time stamp on my posts. Yeah, I am usually up until at least 2am. But lately, I’ve found myself crawling into bed past 4am and even still been up at 5:30 just when Michael is starting his day.

So I’m going to learn to sleep because I’m becoming less and less effective when I’m awake and more and more cranky with the people I care the most about. In the meantime, posts on this blog might be a bit sporadic.

But that’s okay, because I’d really like to hear from you for a change. How do you feel about… Read the rest

September 12, 2008

Plastic-free in the freezer: airtight stainless steel food containers

A very common question for Fake Plastic Fish is what to use to store food in the freezer. Until now, I didn’t have an awesome answer. As you can see, I have been reusing Michael’s old plastic cottage cheese containers. And reusing plastic bags. I wrote about all the plastic we were reusing a year ago. Certainly better to reuse what you have than toss out and buy new, right?

Except that plastic is not necessarily the best material for storing food… especially fatty or acidic food, which can cause the plastic to break down. And certainly not hot foods. So what’s a better alternative?

Glass?  I do store some foods in glass jars. That’s an okay solution. You can freeze glass, but you have to be very careful with it when you take it out, as it will become brittle. And glass jars are not the best shape for storing frozen foods because the neck can make removing the food difficult.

Stainless steel?  It’s great. But until … Read the rest

September 9, 2008

Affluence – Sustaining the flow

Last night, I had a wonderful meal with some new friends who are working to create an alternative online community. We ate at Red Sea, an Eritrean/Ethiopian restaurant down the street from me. As we sat before a giant communal platter of food: meats, vegetables, lentils, fish, all spread across sour injera bread, I marveled at the bounty before us and the irony that this amazing cuisine comes to us from a part of the world where the majority of citizens would be eating far less and far fewer dishes in one meal, and would certainly not have the need for a stainless steel tiffin in which to carry home leftovers.

To be able to eat until our bellies are full, to have food left over, and to feel secure that there will be more tomorrow, this is affluence. And whether we choose to overindulge or to eat simply, the fact that we have a choice is also affluence. Whether we live in a single family home or palacial estate or studio apartment, those of us who have a roof over our … Read the rest

September 8, 2008

GlassDharma makes drinking fun again!

GlassDharma reusable glass drinking straw

Going plastic-free has not been a huge burden, for the most part. We’ve got awesome bulk foods stores and farmers markets here in the Bay Area, and most shops are happy to package purchases or leftovers in my reusable containers. But a few changes I’ve made have been actual sacrifices, and ordering iced drinks without straws was one of them. Ice hurts my teeth. Cold drinks are just so much more pleasant and fun through a straw. But I gave them up when I gave up plastic. And now, thanks to a tip from FPF reader Lisa Sharp, I am straw-free no longer!

(And yes, I’m aware there are those who will say drinking iced cold beverages is no good for the digestion in the first place, but to me, a little iced tea in the summer is a beautiful thing.)

According to Glass Dharma, its drinking straws are made from the strongest glass commercially available and can be used over and over again indefinitely. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical, so I wrote to the… Read the rest