The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

October 7, 2008

Vajrapani Retreat Center: find the plastic; win a prize!

Vajrapani Institute is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains. Care for the earth and all its creatures is one of its core practices, to the extent that the members try as much as possible to avoid killing even insects. This is where I spent the weekend, sitting in silence, listening to the birds, showering among the trees, and just having a moment to breath.

I love taking pictures, so on the last day of the retreat, I snapped a few to share with you. But so as not to lose the theme of this blog, let’s make a little contest. Who can identify a large mass of plastic hidden within one of these photos?  Next week, I’ll reveal the winner and also discuss the ramifications of this type of plastic and its use. But for now, just enjoy. You can click on each photo to see a larger version.

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Citizen Green

I believe that the insects in your photo are termites. That brings up a dilemma for the people at the retreat center. Do they kill the termites, do they use treated wood, do they live in peace with the termites and let them eat the building, do they use plastic instead of wood? Hopefully the termites are in the woods and not in the building.

Beth Terry

One person has guessed the answer I was looking for. But others may be right about some plastic, too. I’ll post the answer as well as some thoughts about it next week. Leaving for the “No Plastic Left Behind” conference in Southern Cal in a few hours. See you!


How about the camera taking the pictures? I bet that has a lot of plastic and it is in every picture!

(Yes, I get the smart-aleck from my father.)


Ooh, I recant. I definitely think it’s the decking around the larger building. I’ve been at houses with the reclaimed plastic decking before.


I’m thinking maybe the skylights on all of the buildings – I know they’re plastic at our house. If not, I’ll agree with the masses on the steps and railings.


Hm. I was going to say the rope that the Tibetan Prayer Flags are strung on (I know mine is plastic), but with your massive hint, I’ll have to go with the faux logs/decking of the walkway. thanks for sharing!


I agree with Veronique, the outer walls of the house don’t look natural… Plastic walls?! I’ve only ever seen those in caravans.


I am going to guess it is the railings of the porch on the house. They appear to be made from plastic lumber. I also noticed the lights along the one path but they aren’t what I would consider big.


Wow! What a gorgeous natural structure! I love the beauty of buildings like this, because they remind people that our Earth is worth saving. It’s common for spiritualists to look to nature to find peace and comfort, which is a practice that we could all engage in each day if we worked hard to preserve the foliage around us.


In the sixth photo, there are lights along the pathway which are made of plastic.


I have to agree with the siding on the second house or the “wooden” path.


I think it’s the background in the picture of the flying ants. ???


I guess the outer part of the bungalow that seems to be wooden are made by some plastic like PVC


I’m going to go out on a “limb” here literally….the walk-ways/pathways with the bridge/steps/railing looks like that fake plastic wood you see sometimes…From a distance it looks real, but it has that plastic sheen to it. On children’s playgrounds you often see this.

Yes, that’s my guess…the bridge/steps/railing on the pathways.

I hope i’m wrong..that would be sad.

Beth Terry

You guys are good! I didn’t even noticed that little green thing in the fountain. But remember, I said it’s a large mass of plastic. So think big.


I think everyone else seems to have taken a good stab at finding the plastic, but I did want to say that your pictures are beautiful!


I see a plastic sheet at the edge of the fountain. It also looks like there is a green sheet of plastic inside the fountain itself and of course the beads.


I would say that the siding on the house is plastic…


the fountain is plastic?


I’m going to say the 2nd picture down in your grouping of photos. The one that looks like there is a big window…and there seems to be plastic from the upper left ‘raining’ across to the bottom left. Not sure what it’s hanging from.



Um… I think there’s a plastic chair on the deck, but I also wondered if some of the deck railing on the house is plastic.

If I have to pick one, I’ll say the chair.


I see a plastic deck chair – def. not conducive to enjoying the view!



Vinyl siding on the house?


I see plastic in the fountain – a float, a greenish sheet, a rectangular clear bag and suspected plastic beads. Plus I saw the skylight, too, but that's not debris.

If you'd found a pile of plastic debris in the woods, you would have cleaned it up for sure!

I am going up North for Thanksgiving this weekend and hope to enjoy woodsey goodness.

Love & RRRevolution, Tracey


Oh..there’s also the beads draped over the water statue. I’m assuming those are not real pearls.



i see two plastics. The skylights (if that’s what they are) and the power cable running across the top of one of the nature shots.
Am I right?


PS- What a lovely place to be!


I believe I can spot plastic in photo #5, the one with Buddha sitting in a fountain. Am I right? Do I also have to guess its use? Because from here I haven’t a clue.