The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

April 28, 2009

My Video Thank You to Oprah

Did any of you catch Oprah’s 2009 Earth Day show?

After interviewing Fabien Cousteau about plastic in the oceans, she had a few “Aha! moments”:

Oprah will think differently about using plastic things:

Oprah wants to go beyond washing out her zip lock bags:

I was excited and moved to see this issue garnering the attention of an audience as large as Oprah’s. So moved, in fact, that I wrote her a letter… and then recorded it on video. Now I just have to figure out the best way to reach her with it:

My belief is that once audiences see the horrific images of what plastic does to the environment, they will want to know what they can do. Let’s let Oprah know that there are many of us out here already going beyond washing out plastic bags.

Please feel free to forward this video or embed on your own website. Leave a comment. Better still, how about recording your own video response? The more the better. Let’s help her see that this movement is vast and growing and full of ordinary people who care.

And if you know anyone connected to the Oprah team, do let me know. I’ve already received some great suggestions this weekend from people who saw the video through Twitter or Facebook. But the more avenues, the better.

I have to admit, making the video was easy. Once the idea came, it pretty much made itself. Posting it publicly, however, has been a little scary. Honestly, I feel kinda naked. But the letter represents the truth of the moment. I don’t think it’s actually mine to hold back.

Will you share your truth, too?

For those unable to hear the video message, here is a transcript:

April 24, 2009

Dear Oprah,

Thank you so much for your beautiful Earth Day show bringing awareness to the problems of plastic in our oceans. This issue first touched me personally about two years ago, and I feel compelled to share with you my story and also to make a request.

Back in June of 2007, I was at home recovering from a hysterectomy. Realizing that I would never have my own children, I wondered what other positive thing I could birth into the world instead. I had tried all sorts of things in my life, and that winter I had actually trained for and run a marathon. But at this point, lying on the couch, unable to exercise or do anything else, I felt kind of lost.

And then one night, I was at my computer and stumbled upon an article about plastic in the ocean and the photo that would change my life forever: the carcass of a dead albatross chick, its belly full of plastic — bottle caps, cigarette lighters, fragments of bags and containers, even a toothbrush — out there in the middle of the Pacific where few humans have contact. I looked at my life and realized that I was contributing to the pain of other creatures without even knowing it.

That night, something new did come into the world. I started a blog, Fake Plastic Fish and began collecting and tallying my own plastic waste each week and analyzing it to see what plastic I was using and what I could do without. Once I had recuperated physically, I started making field trips to stores, recycling centers, anywhere I could learn about what our options are for reducing our plastic consumption and plastic waste. Everything I learned, I shared on the blog.

At first, reducing was difficult. All of our convenience foods — energy bars, frozen dinners, whole roasted chickens — come packaged in plastic. I had to develop a different mindset and turn from what was fast and easy to foods that were more wholesome and came in less packaging. I started shopping stores like Whole Foods and local natural food stores where I could fill up my cloth bags from their bulk bins instead of buying prepackaged foods. And I learned to carry my own bottles, containers, utensils, and even glass drinking straw with me to avoid disposables.

I went beyond bottles and bags to making my own cat food, washing my hair with baking soda and water (it really does work!), cleaning with vinegar in glass bottles, lemon juice, baking soda, and composting all my food waste to avoid plastic garbage bags. I drove my friends crazy, but I never told them what to do.

And then I broadened my reach. Finding that some things, like my plastic Brita water filter cartridge, could not be recycled, I started a campaign to urge Brita to take back and recycle its filter cartridges (Take Back the Filter at This January, Brita developed a plan to do just that. And I was privileged to deliver over 600 used Brita filters entrusted to me by supporters all over the U.S. and Canada to Brita reps in Oakland for recycling.

Sending back unwanted plastic packaging to manufacturers, writing letters to companies asking for less plastic, joining with environmental group Green Sangha ) to promote healthy alternatives to plastic, connecting with other bloggers, such as the women of the Green Moms Carnival ( who have accepted me for being a “mother of the earth” even though I don’t have my own children, and urging other bloggers to take on the No Plastic challenge and help spread the word, I am doing the most I can with the little time I have.

It’s a full-time job. But I already have a full-time job — as an accountant for a local Bay Area home care agency. And this is where my story takes a turn. Because one night, walking home exhausted from work and realizing that I had many hours of work ahead of me to prepare for Oakland’s Earth Expo the next day — I had promised a display and a costume about plastic — it crossed my mind, as it has many times in two years since I started this project, that I could just stop. Quit. I could give up the blogging and activism and reaching out to strangers. I could just stop doing it. I could go back to my private little life of watching movies, playing with my kitties, and hanging out with my husband. What’s wrong with that?

But no sooner did the thought cross my mind, than I was stopped dead in my tracks by an inner voice that said,

“You can’t quit because none of this belongs to you. The activism… the blogging… the reaching out… you don’t do them; they do you.”

Eckhart Tolle speaks of awakening to your life’s true purpose.  In that moment, I knew that I had. Nothing had changed. And everything had changed. I will continue to do the actions I need to do to spread the word about plastic in our environment. But now with the certain knowledge that these actions are not mine. They are, rather, an expression of my true place and purpose in this world.

Oprah, I don’t remember ever making the decision to start Fake Plastic Fish. One day, I saw that photo, and the next day I was creating a blog and tallying my plastic. Our left brains want to claim credit for the things we do. But truly, the universe works through us to get its work done, not the other way around.

I’m writing to you now not only to share my story but also to make a request. I will continue to do the work that needs to be done, but I don’t have the audience that you do. Will you help me reach more people to show them the possibilities of living mindfully with less plastic by mentioning my story and Fake Plastic Fish on your show, website, or magazine?

I want to help people go beyond bottles and bags. I want to help people be mindful of the materials of the world that come into their lives, to think about what they purchase and to know where it comes from and where it goes.

Ultimately, my purpose is not plastic. It’s to be an example and an inspiration to others. Just as you do every day.


Beth Terry
Oakland, CA

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Beth Terry
14 years ago

Hi Jen. Sorry it took me so long. I added the transcript to the bottom of this post. (It was too long to add to the YouTube page.) In the future, I'll be sure and add transcripts to all my YouTube videos or links to transcripts. Did you catch the video message from Captain Moore that I posted this past Monday? I included the transcript on the Youtube site. It is worth it!

14 years ago

Thanks Beth, I look forward to reading the script once it’s up.


14 years ago

Your video is lovely. Thank you for all your efforts.

Martin at Plasticless
14 years ago


I am living in a country that deems YouTube unworthy, but I will be sure to check out the video the next time I take a trip.

It’s great to here that you are actively looking to broaden your audience. You might want to see what tools are available from the evil world of marketing. I have used Traffic Geyser to increase views of video content before.

14 years ago

I hope Oprah sees your video, you are doing a great thing.

Beth Terry
14 years ago

Jen, absolutely! I’m so sorry I didn’t think of it myself. Am leaving for the weekend but will try and remember to do it as soon as I get back.


14 years ago

I take it from other people’s comments that your video is inspirational, but I can’t make heads or tails out of it because I’m deaf. If you scripted the video before speaking it, could you please put the text on your web site for people like me who are deaf or hard of hearing? Thank you.


14 years ago

Bravo! You’re video was so captivating and honest. Know that you are reaching so many people now and WHEN you are on Oprah… wow, it’ll be amazing!

Keep up the great work and I will keep reading and doing my part in the effort!

Working Rachel
14 years ago

That was truly beautiful.

Jen CleanBin
14 years ago

Nice job Beth. Every time I end up with some plastic (which isn’t often) I think “fake plastic fish would have avoided this”. Thanks for spread awareness.

Laura Jean Karr
14 years ago

I think you did a great job with the video and I do so hope that it reaches Oprah and or her team of people.

I’ll right myself and send the link.

14 years ago


Your continued work and personal journalism on the plastics issue is a constant inspiration for me. You are one of those people who show us just being ourselves we can do extraordinary things. I can totally see you going on Oprah. I have never watched the show but will sneak a peak on youtube later to see her Aha moment. Thank you for doing what you do, my Aha moment came about due to viewing a series of articles and sites about the plastics issue in the space of a few days, including your blog.

14 years ago

Beth, keep up the good work. The ‘outer’ voices are also encouraging you to keep going!

14 years ago

Great video Beth — I hope Oprah takes up your request.

Jenn (
14 years ago

The universe works through us to get its work done… this has flipped my brain upside down, and it sounds so exactly right.

Thanks for being an inspiration, Beth!

14 years ago

Wow… such a personal and strong video! I never watch Oprah, but I know a lot of people do. Hope she’ll give your blog some attention!

Please remember: your activism DOES work. It really does. I’m chaning a lot of things right now, primarly because of (or: inspired by) your blog.

Thank you!

14 years ago

I for one am glad you have continued Beth. You know you are one of my super heroines!Well you Chile, Crunchy, soots and arya. And many more bloggers and people I have met and only met online. I paricularily enjoy when people come up with ways to re-use plastic items (like Cheap Veggie Gardner and his upside down tomato planters) of course now I have empty converted 2 litre pop bottles hanging all over the place with (hopefully) tasty little plants growing out of them. You make my life a bit easier to with the tiffins, lunchbots and skoy clothes. So keep up the faith Beth. I know you make a difference in the world!I doubt Miss Oprah reads my blog, but I would like to put your video on it!

14 years ago

Hi Beth,
I just wanted to thank you for everything you do to spread the word about plastic.


14 years ago

Hi Beth–this made me cry–thank you thank you for being who you are—! a great video—don’t worry–“way will open” and you will find that national audience for your good work in this area….

Anarres Natural Health
14 years ago

Oh Beth!
I can't stop crying.
It was that albatros carcass that got me, too. That SAME article!

Bless you!
I don't know a thing about Oprah, but I'll send the 5400 subscribers of my newsletter to see your awesome video.

Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

14 years ago

i hate the oprah. but use her, use her for all she’s worth.

14 years ago

Way to go, Beth! You truly are an inspiration.

Bianca in Berlin

Christy B.
14 years ago

You are my hero!

14 years ago

Bravo Bravo! I hope Oprah sees your video – you do such a wonderful job of presenting the topic.

It’s a tough topic to present too without turning people off but you are so sweet and soft spoken, speaking right from your heart – I think that glues people to what you have to say.

I am an Oprah fan too – maybe soon I can watch Beth on Oprah! (o;


Lisa Sharp
14 years ago

I sent an e-mail to tell them about the video as well as you.

It’s an amazing video Beth! You have changed my life forever!!