The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: July 2009

July 31, 2009

Beth’s Big Back to School Binder Debate

You wouldn’t think that 3-ring binders would be the topic of intense debate within the green blogging community, but it turns out they have become a symbol of a much bigger discussion: the pros and cons of buying new “green” products vs. re-using older products that might not be as green. It’s a debate I constantly have with myself, and generally I end up on the side promoting less consumption, less purchasing of new stuff, less less less. Except when I think the re-used option could be harmful to health (plastic food containers, for example) and then I quickly jump on the new bandwagon.

Anyway, last week, blogger Siel Ju of Green LA Girl posted a short article about Sustainable Group’s [Now called Guided Products] Green Back to School Kit. The kit includes binders, notebooks, and other supplies made from plastic-free, recycled materials.

Blog Lighter Footstep takes issue with these products. In his article, “5… Read the rest

July 30, 2009

Blogher ’09 and The Story of Stuff

What have you heard about #BlogHer09 so far? Stories are circulating around the web that the conference is no longer about connection and content and community and is instead all about sponsors and swag and greed. Check out this damning video by a Chicago writer who worked at the Pepsico booth for a few days. Read Jessica Gottlieb’s followup interview with him. Another blogger asks, “BlogHer ’09: Does Swag Pervert the Purpose?” and a disenchanted blogger I met at the Saturday night cocktail party posts a crazy photo of all the plastic swag she picked up.

Here are just a few of the big vendors represented at BlogHer09:

But lest you think I’m above all this, let me tell you a little story.

A (Fake Plastic) Fish Out of Water

For two weeks before BlogHer, I was staying up late and running around like mad trying to finish up projects and prepare for the trip. Finding out I had won the style consultation with Tim Gunn only accelerated… Read the rest

July 27, 2009

A Break from Blogher09 Frenzy: My Lunch with Tim Gunn at the Four Seasons

Tim Gunn and Beth Terry at Four Seasons

I have a lot to say about the Blogher Conference, plastic, traveling, Chicago, disillusionment, and frustration.  But first things first!

I won a personal style consultation with Tim Gunn!

You got that right.  It’s Tim Gunn from Project Runway: probably my favorite guilty pleasure TV show.  I don’t normally enter contests, but this was one I couldn’t resist.  Last week, I found out I had won (and spent a few days obsessing about what to wear before giving up in futility), and this afternoon, I joined him at the Four Seasons for lunch.

(Whatever your feelings about style, the fashion industry, advertisers — the contest I won was sponsored by Tide — or reality television, this post is not about those things. It’s about a one hour human connection, and that’s all.)

What I thought was going to be a makeover and style criticism consultation turned out to be a lovely meal and conversation about all … Read the rest

July 20, 2009

Plastic-free Farmer’s Markets need our thanks!

There’s a new trend in the Bay Area: Farmer’s Markets going plastic-free. But we still have a long way to go, and the vendors need to know we care.

Back up: Two years ago, I wrote the post, “Plastic Farmers Market“, about all the plastic bags and packaging at our local Temescal farmers market here in North Oakland. Shortly afterwards, I got involved with Green Sangha’s Rethinking Plastics campaign, whose members table at local farmers markets, handing out cloth bags and encouraging patrons to bring their own.

To be clear: I’m not talking about reusable grocery totes and baskets. Most of the folks here in the Bay Area are conscientious about bringing those bags. The problem is that they then proceed to fill up their canvas totes with multiple plastic produce bags. Green Sangha’s mission has been two-fold: encouraging shoppers to bring their own cloth produce bags (or skip putting larger items into separate… Read the rest

July 15, 2009

Help! I’m buried under paper and I can’t get up!

So here’s the deal. I promised to write a post on about plastic-free organizing tips next week. But I have no business writing any such thing. Just take a look at my desk:

I’ve been trying to organize my office space ever since we moved here in 2005, and it’s just not happening. Paper, paper everywhere. I’ve been working to reduce the amount of paper mail I receive. I get most of my bills online and don’t print them out. And yet, my desk is always full of paper — to do notes, meeting notes, contact information, flyers, business cards — and I just feel overwhelmed. (That photo? I just took it this morning. Last week, my desk was even worse before I went on a rampage and recycled a whole bunch of stuff that had “expired.”)

So I want some ideas. Some systems for clearing the clutter. And if you have a blog and have written about this topic, I’ll totally give you full credit, link to you, … Read the rest

July 9, 2009

Bottled Water Problem – It’s Not Just The Bottle!

Bottled water companies are under attack. They know their plastic bottles are a problem, and they are working around the clock to fix it. Either by changing the bottles themselves or changing their marketing or both. PepsiCo, for example, just launched it’s “Eco-Fina” bottle to contain Aquafina bottled water. According to Pepsi’s press release, the Eco-fina bottle weighs less than any other plastic bottle and contains 50% less plastic.

Is this enough?

If you ask me, no! Because the problems with bottled water extend beyond the plastic bottle. And yesterday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their report, “BOTTLED WATER FDA Safety and Consumer Protections Are Often Less Stringent Than Comparable EPA Protections for Tap Water,” basically finding the same thing. Plastic bottles are a problem. But they are not the only problem with bottled water.

So here’s what the Government… Read the rest

July 8, 2009

Plastics Debate Continues with Artist Chris Jordan Weighing In

Yesterday, I mentioned a conversation I had with plastics proponent Greg from and posed several questions for Fake Plastic Fish readers to answer.

Greg has responded to my post with an article on his own blog: “Plastic: What is it good for? Absolutely lots!” (You may have to scroll down the long list of menu items on his site to read the post.)  Greg invites your comments on his blog — comments which members of the plastics industry will read!

Visual artist Chris Jordan, whom you might recognize for his brilliant social & environmental series called “Running The Numbers,” attempted to respond on Greg’s blog, but his comment was too long. So here it is. Feel free to respond, forward, and discuss with friends. Chris raises important issues about all corporations and whether or not they actually respond to consumer demand or are actually in the business of manufacturing the demand they want.… Read the rest

July 7, 2009

Plastic – What is it good for?

This morning, I had a telephone conversation with a plastics industry insider who runs a web site dedicated to supporting plastics professionals. Greg from is a nice guy. Very sincere. And surprisingly, we found many more areas of agreement than probably either of us expected.

I won’t go into the details of the conversation in this post, except to tell you that I expressed to him my major concerns with plastic: non-biodegradable waste from disposable plastic containers and packaging; chemicals that can leach from plastics and the fact that those chemicals are not disclosed to consumers; harm to wildlife, etc. Greg shared with me his views and expressed that he has some of the same environmental concerns that I do. Now we’d like your input.

What do you see as the major problems with plastic?

What uses for plastic (if any) are necessary and beneficial to society?

Would you like to see a world without any plastic at all? What… Read the rest

July 6, 2009

Plastic Sea Monster crashes Marin’s Green County Fair

I’ve bragged about how green we are here in the Bay Area before, right? Well, leave it to Marin County to host what it called “The Greenest County Fair On Earth” this past weekend. Powered by solar and biodiesel, providing compostable containers and flatware as well as recycling and compost stations to collect them, offering many opportunities for environmental education throughout the fair, and actually becoming a Bay Area Certified Green Business last year, the Marin County Fair is the last place you’d expect to see a lot of plastic, right?

Well, as great as it was, nothing is perfect, and there’s always room for improvement. Plenty of fairgoers were drinking from disposable plastic bottles which had been provided by a few of the vendors. Enter the Plastic Sea Monster! I was actually invited to come and hang out with fairgoers, educate them about plastic, hand out some small flyers, play with the kids and accost… Read the rest

July 1, 2009

Guest Post – No Technology is Truly Green

Before you invest in that new “green” computer or purchase those fun solar deck lights, read this insider’s perspective from Fake Plastic Fish reader Alyssa J. Pasquale and consider whether buying new technology is ever truly green. If you have an idea for a guest post, please contact me and let me know. I’d love to feature more of your ideas here!

I would first like to thank Beth for allowing me to write this guest post. My name is Alyssa and I am a PhD candidate at a very large university in Boston. I work in electrical engineering and have a focus on photonic devices. These are generally nanometer-scale devices that use light to do something cool. Some people in my department work on biological sensors, some on solar cells, some on lasers, and some on LEDs.

I’ve been doing research for a long time (I started as an undergrad) and one thing that’s prevalent in my work is lots and lots of waste. As I told Beth, I find it awfully… Read the rest