The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

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 poms
2) Plastic sunglasses inside plastic baggie
3) Plastic bubble soap
4) 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 a thing I’d never do. So I didn’t get to blow bubbles during “Beauty School Drop-Out“. Jen said the cheap plastic bubble wand sucked anyway.

Now, back at home, I wonder about all the plastic waste generated last night. How many attendees will reuse any of those items? How much of it was left in the theater and how much will end up in the garbage? But these questions don’t diminish the fun I had with my friends. They simply add another dimension to the experience. An extra layer of reality.

So my question for you is whether you ever find yourselves having less fun at social events because of waste or other environmentally unfriendly practices that no one else seems to notice? And if so, what strategies do you use in order to enjoy being with friends while dealing with eco anxiety?

(Note: Youtube videos linked were recorded by someone else during a previous event at the same theater… not last night’s. We were much better singers!)

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12 years ago

Hi Beth,

Great post! Thanks for sharing these archived posts on twitter.

I work PT for a small town parks and rec department. After a youth sports game all the kids are handed out snacks and drinks (plastic water bottles or gatorade) and even though the community center has recycle bins in the lobby, most kids (and parents!!!) just throw them in the trash. I try to help as many of these as I can find the recycling, but I am only there 1-2 days a week.

The staff at the community center say they see it all the time. I think rec league sports are great for kids because they learn teamwork and how to support each other in a positive and meaningful way, but it is sad to see the celebration after a game (win or lose) involves so much plastic waste.

Eco Yogini
14 years ago

This was interesting. I try to keep my thoughts to myself, but during the facade of Earth Hour last week I couldn’t help but complain to the WWF rep working there. She really couldn’t understand how having hundreds of battery operated, plastic candles, huge speakers with microphones, plastic BPA and normal Tim Horton’s cups AND a gasoline using flame thrower maybe wasn’t so conducive to educating our city about the environment.
I have also asked local food places why they aren’t following our provinces recycling/composting laws… since it’s the LAW.
Even though I keep quiet mostly since us Canadians are ‘polite’ lol, whenever anyone asks about a reusable bag, my cotton produce bags, etc I tell them why it’s great (eco-wise).
I also cough loudly when I pass through a cloud of smokers and give dirty looks to people leaving their cars idling while they go into a store… juvenile? yes. but my lungs are precious to me, and I don’t want to be exposed to that.
I think focusing my ‘complaints’ towards more political actions may prove to be more productive. So I’m planning on writing a letter to the city (re: Earth Hour and their horrible management of not accepting bioplastics in their composting system). :)

14 years ago

The biggie for me is baby showers. Not so much the plastic waste (which is annoying in and of itself) but the gifts being all formula/bottle feeding related and nothing supportive of breastfeeding.

It’s the same with the hospital bags. You get a diaper bag (from a formula company with their logo) filled with formula coupons, a can of formula, and a bunch of other stuff aimed at setting up a mom to fail at breastfeeding.

Even the “breastfeeding bag” has a logo from the formula company, a formula sample, formula coupons, and instructions on breastfeeding with just enough bad information to set the mom up to fail.

That’s my biggest pet peeve.

14 years ago

I just try to keep in mind the saying “don’t let the best be the enemy of the good.” It was first introduced to me regarding historical accuracy in reenactment settings, but it’s useful for life in general. It’s good to remember that we’re doing the best we can and that change and improvement are progressing, maybe not as fast as we’d like but they are. :D

14 years ago

This is why I usually like to have people over at my place! I get to control the amount of waste that is made :)

The only plastic dishes and cups I have are those that are leftover from my dorm and apartment in college, which are definitely reusable and nice to have in case someone with kids comes over.

@Lisa Sharp
I take recyclables out of the trash too, especially at work! I got so tired of the eye rolling that I started recycling bins in my office that I take home and put in my recycling every Friday.

14 years ago

Hello – I am just surprised that given your in depth blog and personal plastic-free plight that your friends wouldn’t be up to speed on why they shouldn’t bother with a bag of plastic stuff – either that or at least sensitive to the fact that you are doing without and the reasons why.

14 years ago

Hi Beth–

I just became the chair of the annual teacher appreciation lunch at my kids’ elementary school. I immediately suggested we not use plastic plates/etc but instead set the tables with reusable plates and real cutlery and cloth napkins. I’m sure there were groans all across the neighborhood, but all the return emails have been supportive and positive. I think we’ll be setting an excellent example for the school.

Lisa Sharp
14 years ago

I can’t help because I have a hard time dealing with the wastefulness of others.

I have been known to take recyclables out of the trash. Or pick up a cigg bud off the ground (I talked about doing this at the conference on my blog, it was pretty funny).

Normally it leads to rolling of eyes…

Condo Blues
14 years ago

When I go to events and less lots of wasteful things I try to look at it from a logisticl standpoint. For example, my husband's a runner and most races provide cups of water for runners during the race but bottles at the finish because some runners don't always have a wife to hold their water bottle & stuff during the race :) and need more than a cupful of water to recover afterwards. To keep my head from exploding I look for recycling bins & if they aren't there my husband & I take it home and put it in ours. For swag, I try to get stuff that I can/will reuse even if it's plastic like chip bag clips that we use on flour bags, etc. Since I'm a reuse maven, I might take a fun item like the bottle of bubbles if I can find a reuse for it. I refill the bubble bottles w/ homemade bubble mix (water+dish soap) for the nieces and nephews to play with when they visit.

14 years ago

Youd could bring your own bubble mix next time. What’s a party without bubbles? Bubbles get over here! (Back to School starring Sir Rodney Dangerfield qoute)

Cheap Like Me
14 years ago

Oh, I so hear you. I got in trouble with a relative after I blogged about my angst accepting the waste in a vacation with them, although ultimately it led to a good conversation, I think. I bit my tongue yesterday at an event at my child’s school, where they are aiming to go green, and yet served a lunch of pizza on disposable plates (not sure what else they could have done there), ice cream in styrofoam bowls with plastic spoons, and my personal peeve, water in bottles, with no recycling in sight. I was going to try to set up a container that I could bring home, but I just couldn’t bear to harp on it any more. :(

Crunchy Chicken
14 years ago

Dear god, help me. I am the annoying eco curmudgeon at parties. I just can’t help myself, life is too short to not educate those around me, right?

Although my wisecrack about climate change and Bangladesh fell on deaf ears the other day and I forced myself to stop while I was ahead.

14 years ago

Did your singing lessons come in handy? :)

Yes, I get ecco-anxiety when ordering takeout in group settings. If they are close friends, I remind them to tell the restaurant we don’t need the plastic silverware and if picking up always be sure to have reusable bags in my purse. However, sometimes the plastic containers are still unavoidable and so I usually just swallow my guilt, turn a blind eye and enjoy the food and my friends! :)

Also, sometimes in meetings I count up the number of plastic beverage bottles around the table and do some mental calculations of how much waste we are generating over the course of the year.

14 years ago

To terrible person: YES! We did notice! I said something like “Oh no Beth, LOOK – plastic wrap!” And it was totally pointless, too. Danny just unrolls it a few feet and throws it. LAME. However, good times were had by all.

14 years ago

I am the same way! I volunteer for Relay for Life and they want to release hundreds of balloons and I just keep groaning at meetings every time they mention it!

terrible person
14 years ago

Did you notice the innovative use of plastic wrap during the “Greased Lightning” song?

Plastic was new and wondrous in the 50’s. Little did they know! Their plastic waste is still at the bottom of landfills.

14 years ago

Ooh boy… I know all about this one. I used to suffer a lot more from eco-anxiety, but now that I’ve become a nihilist, everything’s fine! JK JK… I think you described the best solution: be present, worrying about tomorrow does nothing but ruin the now. Resolve to work harder and enjoy the present!

14 years ago

My husband orders things from a company that includes free plastic sunglasses with each order. We now have something like 9 pairs of these sunglasses, and they don’t even fit my husband. There’s no easy way to decline them, and I’m sure if we tried it would be a big deal and the company wouldn’t even know how to stop sending them. Who doesn’t want free stuff?

No good answers, but I understand where you’re coming from.

(And, also,