The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: November 2008

November 29, 2008

Plastic-free Thanksgiving – Pumpkin Pecan Risotto, Brussels Sprouts, Winter Salad

I hope you all had a happy and safe Thanksgiving. We spent Thursday at a Thanksgiving potluck with friends and made sure that our three dishes were as plastic-free as possible. Below are links to the recipes, with info on ingredients. I wish I had thought to take pictures of the brussels sprouts after they were cooked as well as Michael’s salad.

Dish 1: Pumpkin Pie Risotto with Candied Pecans (From NPR web site.)

All the dry ingredients came from bulk bins at Whole Foods.

I followed the recipe per the NPR instructions, but I kind of feel like something’s wrong with it as written. The risotto tasted great, but it was much softer than expected, bordering on mushy. The procedure is different from most risottos, requiring you to put the rice and liquids all into the pot together instead of sauteeing the rice first and then adding liquid gradually.

Next time (and there will be a next time because I’m determined to get this right) I’m … Read the rest

November 25, 2008

Saying Good-bye to Plastic-Free Cat Litter… Again!

Arya loves SwheatScoop cat litter. She loves to rip open the bag, spread the litter across the kitchen floor, and then lie in it and take a nap. Why confine such an awesome substance to her litter box?

Soots on the other hand, will have almost nothing to do with it. To avoid grossing you out, I provide the following black and white representation of what Soots thinks of SwheatScoop:

I wanted to love Swheatscoop natural clumping, flushable cat litter. I really did. Especially because it’s the only flushable* litter that comes in a paper bag rather than plastic. [2016 update:  Swheatscoop has switched to a plastic bag.  We now use Integrity cat litter instead.] Even the boxed litters have plastic bags inside.

*For those who weren’t here for the beginning of the cat litter story, we feel comfortable flushing their poop because they are indoor cats that have tested negative for toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that kills sea otters.

We tried… Read the rest

November 25, 2008

Contest Answer – BioBags okay for compost only.

A week ago, I showed this photo from the SF Green Festival and asked what was wrong with this picture. No one offered the specific answer I was looking for, but many gave great partial attempts.

Ken O. noticed that all the bin liners are biodegradable, and he’s right. In fact, they are all corn-based BioBags. Lara S. gave an excellent answer, “the plastic bags are unnecessary and shouldn’t be there (compostable or not… it’s a waste).” If these bins were at our homes, most of us could do without any liners at all. Michael and I don’t use any kind of garbage bags at our house these days… compostable or not.

But for a big 3-day event where there is quite a bit of solid waste (despite being a zero-waste event!) it’s more practical to swap out some kind of liner than to move many, many bins around.

So here’s what happened: these green BioBags were the first thing I noticed when I entered the convention… Read the rest

November 20, 2008

Focus on Fake

The title of this blog is Fake Plastic Fish, ostensibly because if we don’t solve our plastic pollution problem, fake plastic ones could be the only kind of fish we have left. And also because of Radiohead, for those who know what that means.

But there’s another reason for the word “fake” in the title of this blog, and after the small uproar caused by yesterday’s post about PETA’s fake plastic wishbones, I’d like to try and address that reason.

But first, what is real?

Besides being kind to others and taking care of the earth, the primary motivating question of my life is “What is real?” That question is the reason I go on meditation retreats, sit and notice the silence around me, and listen to the words of spiritual teachers. It’s why I practice noticing my own thoughts and the explanations my brain creates about life that, when I step aside, turn out to be just stories.

And what story does… Read the rest

November 19, 2008

Guest Post – Fake Plastic Wishbones?

Turns out the cold I thought I had is actually a mild case of pneumonia. Thanks very much to blogger Rejin Leys from Urban Botany who filled in for me tonight with a post about a crazy new plastic product being promoted by, of all organizations, PETA.

This week, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) held a contest and awarded 5 lucky winners each a package of 10 “vegan” wishbones, so they can fully participate in Thanksgiving Day festivities without having to touch “the awful real thing.”

Regular readers of FPF will immediately spot the problem with this, right? Fake Plastic Wishbones? As Beth and other anti-plastic pollution activists have pointed out so many times, the world is already drowning in useless plastic crap. Why do companies keep dreaming up and producing more? And most perplexingly, what is an animal rights advocacy organization doing marketing that plastic crap for the Lucky Break Wishbone … Read the rest

November 18, 2008

Brita® and Preserve® Announce Filter Recycling Program

After months of campaigning to urge Brita to take back and recycle used Brita filters, we (the Take Back The Filter group) are thrilled to announce the details of the take-back recycling program that Brita has developed. Read their full press release here.

1) Collection: Beginning in early January, Brita users will be able to drop off used filters at Whole Foods Markets or mail them to an address which will be provided closer to the start date. [From personal experience, I would recommend NOT sealing them up in ZipLoc bags. This just ends up creating a lot of soggy, wet, not-so-nice smelling filters.]

2) Recycline, dba Preserve, the company that makes recycled toothbrushes, razors, and other household products, will recycle 100% of each plastic filter casing collected into other household products.

3) The filter ingredients, activated carbon and ion-exchange resin will be regenerated for alternative use or converted into energy.

The Take Back… Read the rest

November 14, 2008

Beth Geeks Out – Reformatting hard drives and installing Windows Upgrades

I’m tired. I was up very late last night doing a job I love: working on the computers at my office. And as an added bonus, I was doing something great for the environment and saving plastic.

We had five old computers running Windows 2000. We bought a new Filemaker Pro upgrade which will not install on Windows 2000. And even Microsoft will not support that version of Windows anymore. In the past, the company would have tossed the old computers and bought new ones. But this is a new, fierce economy, baby. People can’t afford to be wasteful, and I’m freakin’ glad.

So instead of tossing perfectly good machines, we bought 5 Windows XP Pro licenses (actually, they are Windows VISTA licenses that allow us to downgrade to XP because we don’t really want VISTA at this time) and the only plastic involved was the one CD-Rom I used to burn the downloaded software. I needed a bootable disk, otherwise I wouldn’t have burned a CD at … Read the rest

November 12, 2008

What is Local? Expanding the Definition

The topic of this month’s APLS Carnival is “buying local,” which seems to be an important factor in the sustainability movement. In the SF Bay Area, we have year-round farmer’s markets where local producers bring us their fresh crops all year. So for someone attempting to live plastic-free, it’s not hard to add “buying local” to the mix.

Except when it is hard.

Several months ago, I asked your opinion about which was better environmentally — plastic-wrapped local cheese or waxed plastic-free cheese from Ireland. And surprisingly, most of you voted for the Irish cheese, saying that regardless of plastic, it’s probably just better.

So it seems that some folks make exceptions to the local rule when it comes to foods from “expert” regions of the world. But I have a few more exceptions and redefinitions to add to the mix. I get that buying local is better for the environment because… Read the rest

November 10, 2008

Voices of the Plastic-Free Blogosphere, Part 2

Two weeks ago, I spotlighted eight bloggers who have taken the challenge to reduce plastic in their lives and have been blogging about it. Here are the next eight voices helping to spread the word through the blogosphere. Thanks to blogger Greeen Sheeep, the newest Posse member, for the above image. Enjoy.

Plastic-Free Bloggers (blogs primarily dealing with plastic)

Bring Your Own. Anna Cummins is a plastic-free warrior. Not only has she visited the North Pacific Gyre on the oceanographic research vessel Alguita with her fiance Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Captain Charles Moore’s team, she also travels the country speaking out about the issue of plastics in the marine environment and is planning a bike tour from Vancouver to Mexico to spread the word. She sent me the following image which illustrates the central point of this blog: our fish are filling up with plastic. If we don’t change our ways, fake plastic ones may be all we have left!… Read the rest

November 6, 2008

Obama’s f—ing lightbulbs

The highlights of Newsweek’s Special Election Project, released yesterday, include this unsettling tidbit:

The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”… Read the rest