The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: March 2009

March 31, 2009

How many environmentalists does it take to spoil the party?

Apparently just one: me, insisting, “No thanks. No really. No, I don’t want it. Seriously, no!” to the guy at the theater door trying desperately to hand me a plastic goody bag full of Sing Along Grease paraphernalia. Here are my friends Red and Jen sporting theirs:

Included in the plastic goody bag:

1) Plastic pom poms2) Plastic sunglasses inside plastic baggie3) Plastic bubble soap4) Black plastic comb (for slicking hair back)5) Fake cigarette (have no idea what it’s made out of)

Without these implements, one cannot (the organizers would have us believe) participate fully in the Sing Along Grease Experience. Do you think that stopped me from belting my lungs out on “Hopelessly Devoted“?

No way, man! There are worse things I could do than say no to cheap plastic toys for a few hours. I could fume in my seat, self-righteously grumbling about plastic while everyone else had all the fun. But you know that’s… Read the rest

March 26, 2009

The Sweet Smell of Burning Plastic: Mindfulness Fail

I thought the smell was coming from my computer. I even turned the machine off and opened it up to make sure the fans were working properly. Then I remembered… Oh crap! I’d put water for pasta on the stove probably an hour before! Here’s what happened when I attempted to remove the lid:

The whole house smells toxic. My poor kitties. This is why I shouldn’t multi-task when one of the tasks involves fire. It’s not like this was the first time I’d ever put something on the stove and forgotten about it.

Sad. The melted knob will go into this week’s plastic collection… once it cools down and solidifies again. The metal lid? I’ll have to find a metal recycler to take it to. Either that, or maybe handy RobJ can figure out how to make a new knob for it. Preferably out of wood this time.

It’s a small amount of waste, certainly, but nevertheless avoidable if I had paid attention to what I was doing. Which is… Read the rest

March 25, 2009

Plastics in the Sargasso Sea. Researchers knew about this… WHEN?!

It’s Science Wednesday here at Fake Plastic Fish! Thanks to Wallace “J.” Nichols for forwarding the following article to me. Nichols is the Founder/Co-Director of

Here’s a summary of the article. Based on what we know about marine plastic, can you guess when it was written?

ABSTRACT Plastic particles, in concentrations averaging 3500 pieces and 290 grams per square kilometer, are widespread in the western Sargasso Sea. Pieces are brittle, apparently due to the weathering of the plasticizers, and many are in a pellet shape about 0.25 to 0.5 centimeters in diameter. the particles are surfaces for the attachment of diatoms and hydroids. Increasing production of plastics, combined with present waste-disposal practices, will undoubtedly lead to increases in the concentrations of these particles. Plastics could be a source of some of the polychlorinated biphenyls recently observed in oceanic… Read the rest

March 24, 2009

Plastic At My Singing Lesson and How to Recycle Used CD’s and DVDs.

Isn’t singing a plastic-free activity?

Not when your teacher records your lessons on CDs. I’ve had two singing lessons so far and have been spending my free time doing funny exercises with my lips and various other parts of my personal sound system. Good thing I never get embarrassed anymore.

You might not think a singing lesson would involve much plastic, and if so, you would be living in the last decade. My teacher records each lesson onto a CD for her students to take home and use for practice. The recording is a great help. The disposable polycarbonate plastic CD, not so much. So I asked if there were some other way to save the lesson… on a Flash Drive perhaps? Turns out, she has another machine that records onto SD cards. I have an SD card in my camera. Perfect! Each week, I can download the recording from the card into my computer and reuse the same card each time. This method could potentially save many, many CDs, depending on how long… Read the rest

March 19, 2009

Does your new Eco-Dentist offer foot massages?

Just wondering. Because mine totally does.

(Okay, just to be clear — the foot massage is not performed by the dentist. That would be weird.)

Transcendentist in Berkeley, CA is the practice of Doctor Fred Pockrass, founder of the Eco Dentistry Association, and is the first certified green dental practice in California. When I made the decision to switch all my medical care from San Francisco to the East Bay, for the sake of convenience and also to save fuel miles (Yes, public transit uses fuel, too!), I chose a new dentist who is almost as anti-plastic waste as I am!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, take a look at the waiting and reception area:

Dr. Pockrass’s spa-like office matches his philosophy that patients are more than just mouths and teeth. To that end, he and his wife Ina have created a space that is not only beautiful, but as non-toxic as possible. Wall and floor finishes are water-based and no-VOC. A special water filter… Read the rest

March 18, 2009

I eat a lot of bread!

Last Friday, Arduous wrote a hilarious piece in response to Michael Pollan’s request for readers’ “food rules”. Instead of healthy rules for eating, her post, “Things That I Call Dinner,” confesses menu items such as candy, s’mores, and plain spinach with apples.

My own rule for Michael Pollan, which I left in a comment to his article, is “Real food doesn’t come packaged in plastic.”

That’s all very well and good. What I didn’t say was that sometimes days go by during which I’m too busy or lazy to eat anything but plastic-free bread. That can’t be healthy, can it?

Granted, we do have the best bakery in town. La Farine on College Ave bakes fresh, whole grain, organic bread every day. And I bring my organic cotton ecobag to carry it home… avoiding all packaging, paper or plastic.

Keeping it fresh is another story. Once home, I store the bread inside the… Read the rest

March 17, 2009

Plastic into Oil? What do you think?

This just in: Oregon plastics recycler, Agri-Plas, has begun converting plastic waste back into crude oil. According to Businesswire, “the company recently delivered its first full tanker (8,200 gallons) of oil to a refinery in Tacoma, Wash., which translates to a final delivery of 196 barrels of oil.”

The method was developed by Plas2Fuel, a Kelso, Washington alternative energy company.

Until now, Agri-Plas has been a conventional plastics recycler, focusing on agricultural waste such as greenhouse film, nursery pots and plastic binder twine, as well as limited amounts of household plastic waste, which it recycles into other plastic products.

Now, the company is collecting dirty plastic materials which are unsuitable for traditional recycling for the plastic to oil process. And the state of Oregon has been a major supporter of the project, giving financial assistance through the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit.

Right… Read the rest

March 13, 2009

Healthy bodies are good for the environment

The ferocious flu that hit me several weeks ago resulted in quite a few trips to Kaiser Permanente. During one of those visits, I noticed something in the public restroom I’d never seen there before: a green bin and green liner… telltale signs of composting afoot. I moved in to take a closer look. Sure enough… compostable liner and a sign above the bin instructing users to deposit paper towel waste there.

Sick as I was, I had my camera with me and the presence of mind to snap a few shots, while curious restroom users stared. I forgot about this green moment in Kaiser until reading the Ecology Center‘s recent issue of Terrain Magazine on BART this morning, particularly the article, “When More then the Scrubs are Green.”

The piece describes the efforts of some medical institutions, including Kaiser, to reduce waste and switch to environmentally-safer products… from the food they serve patients to the carpets… Read the rest

March 12, 2009

Katie Woollven: Plastic Warrior Extraordinaire

Katie Woollven is a reader of this blog who contacted me in January to say she’d begun her own No Plastic For A Year Project. What’s more, she’s been working in Hawaii for the Hawaii Wildlife Fund’s Marine Debris Project, gathering up marine garbage, mostly plastic fishing nets.

This is a guest post from Katie, written last month, describing that project.

About 2 weeks after I met Megan Lamson, she had me lined up with a job doing exactly what I’m interested in. It’s with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund’s Marine Debris Project, and I’m helping her organize beach clean-ups near South Point.

These are not your typical beach clean-ups. My first one was in November and we picked up 5 TONS of garbage, mostly abandoned fishing gear. We have a truck with a winch to haul up the tangled mess of nets that wash up on shore. Each net-ball can weigh a ton, and can take 30 minutes to winch into the truck. The rope gets caught … Read the rest

March 11, 2009

Do you have an Eco Confession?

We did a terrible thing yesterday and will now be stripped of our official green membership card. Actually, Michael did it. But he wouldn’t have if I hadn’t begged him to.

We turned up the thermostat on our hot water heater.

Icebergs will melt and polar bears will be stranded because I couldn’t handle one more luke warm shower. This morning, standing in the steamy heat while my skin turned red and blistered, I thought, “How can something that feels so good be so wrong?” And then I started belting out Like A Virgin.

My mom would totally understand. Here’s a picture of her in Hawaii recently when the temp dropped to a frigid 70 degrees F!

This post has nothing to do with plastic but everything to do with questions about how willing we are to make personal sacrifices to care for the wider world outside our own skins. And my skin was screaming for heat.

Fake Plastic Fish readers sometimes make little comments about how they… Read the rest