The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: August 2009

August 31, 2009

Outside Lands Rocks with Less Plastic

Don’t get me wrong. There was still a ton of plastic waste to be recycled from the Outside Lands Music Festival that took place this weekend in Golden Gate Park.

But less than last year. Because instead of providing only bottled water, the festival organizers listened to the feedback from last year’s attendees (like me!) and provided water refill stations as well.

I was heartened to see the stations being used by many people who brought their own bottles. That said, the system was not all I could have wished for. True to a festival guard’s declaration to me last year that they had “no intention of providing free water to everyone,” Outside Lands brought in 5-gallon jugs of Arrowhead water and sold each 20-ounce refill for $1. Or if you bought an Outside Lands branded reusable bottle, refills were free throughout the festival.

Now certainly, these jugs produce much less waste than individual plastic bottles because… Read the rest

August 28, 2009

Music Festival Dilemma – Drinking Wine Without Plastic

Remember last year when I blogged about my difficulties filling up my Klean Kanteen at San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music Festival? If you haven’t read the post, be sure and check it out. It’s pretty outrageous.

Well, this year, Outside Lands is supposedly making a big change. They’ve announced they will provide water refill stations and encourage festival participants to bring their own bottles. I’ll let you know how this works out because I’m going to the festival this Saturday. By myself. Why? Because no one else I know is up for spending 100 frickin’ dollars to join me for Jason Mraz, Black Eyed Peas, TV on the Radio, and a whole host of other bands plus food and art and wine. I know it’s not Radiohead this year, but still fun, right? (Oh, and some guy named Dave Matthews who is the headliner. Meh. [Although I could be convinced otherwise.])

Anyway, the water situation seems to be covered, but … Read the rest

August 27, 2009

Personal Changes Do Make A Difference: An Interview with Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse

Yesterday, I asked whether personal changes at the individual level can truly change the world. Today, I’m happy to share with you an interview with a woman I have truly grown to admire and who believes that shifting our personal spending towards greener products not only makes a difference but is actually more effective than waiting for governments to act.

I reviewed Diane MacEachern’s book, Big Green Purse, a year ago. Since then, I have had the pleasure of knowing her through the Green Moms Carnival, working with her on the BlogHer Green Team, plotting World Greenification with her in her hotel room at the BlogHer conference last month, and watching her cut loose on the ballroom floor. I have the utmost respect for her integrity and personal commitment to environmental work. Please enjoy my interview with this inspiring woman. She gives me hope!

Beth: You’ve had a long career in environmental education and activism. And I … Read the rest

August 26, 2009

Reusable Bags and Stainless Steel Bottles – Do our personal changes matter at all?

I’m depressed. Down in the dumps. Anxious and overwhelmed. For over two years I’ve focused on personal change: eliminating disposable plastic from my life, reducing my energy consumption, and living as simply as possible. But when I step out my front door, the evidence of overconsumption and waste smacks me squarely in the head: piles of trash, pallets of cheap plastic crap, plastic bags and bottles and packaging. Turning on the TV, I am bombarded by messages to Buy. More. Stuff! Are any of my individual actions making any difference in the bigger picture at all?

Last month, about twenty different people forwarded me an article by Derrick Jensen in Orion Magazine, “Forget Shorter Showers: Why personal change does not equal political change.” I resisted reading it because I feared it would cause me to question the personal actions I’ve been engaged in and promoting on this blog. But in the last few weeks, I’ve… Read the rest

August 20, 2009

Kayla Bonczek: Starting college and avoiding plastic

I’m still in Hawaii with my family. The following is a guest post from Fake Plastic Fish reader Kayla Bonczek, who is working to reduce the amount of disposable plastic in her life as she starts college. I wish I had been this aware as a teenager!

Hello, Fake Plastic Fishes! My name is Kayla and I am nineteen years old. My interest in environmental sustainability began with a trip to Vermont and an AP environmental science (APES) class taught by my favorite teacher, where I was exposed in both instances to a wide array of environmental issues. I could go on all day about these issues, but for this post, I will try my best to stick to plastics because this is Fake Plastic Fish.

This past summer has been my first one spent in Texas for some time (I went to high school up north, but grew up down here). I was very fortunate to find a job right away at an amazing family-owned business. When I first started working, I was told that employees were allotted two drinks … Read the rest

August 18, 2009

Visiting a Plastic Paradise

I’m here in Waikiki with my family. The purpose of the trip: helping my parents. The reality of the first few days: recreation. Much needed. Walking on the beach. Climbing Diamond Head. Playing games and eating ice cream. But one thing I notice everywhere I turn: plastic. Plastic bottles and plastic trash lying on the ground. But also tiny plastic pieces that have washed up on the beach. Here are a few photos. Beautiful vistas that become heartbreaking on closer inspection. (Click on any photo to see larger.)

Diamond Head — from a distance…

Up close…

From a distance…

Up close…

From a distance…

Up close…

Bellows Beach Park — from a distance…

Up close, the sand is infused with tiny pieces of plastic that wash up all down the beach.

Last night, we had dinner at the food court in the International Market Place. All the vendors serve food on Styrofoam plates. I circled the food court several… Read the rest

August 13, 2009

Juniperseed Mercantile Makes Great Plastic-free Products

When I start to feel depressed about the state of the world, I think about you guys, the folks who read this blog, those that I know and those I’ve yet to meet, and I realize how grateful I am to be part of this online community of people trying to make a difference. So I was tickled a month ago when Fake Plastic Fish reader Tiffany, proprietor of the shop Juniperseed Mercantile (formerly Picnic Basket Crafts)¬†emailed me to ask some questions about plastic packaging.

Tiffany is a school teacher by profession and in her “spare time” sells healthy cleaning and skincare products that she makes herself, trying very hard to reduce the amount of plastic packaging. She doesn’t even use plastic tape, and recently posted a Plastic-Free Green Product Packaging Tutorial on her blog, demonstrating exactly how to use paper tape. But she’s stuck when it comes to containers. As she wrote me,

…I can’t seem to get around … Read the rest

August 11, 2009

Let’s Talk Diets and Why Guilt Doesn’t Work.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Diets don’t work.” When it comes to lasting lifestyle changes, radical crash diets certainly don’t work. And I’m not just talking about food. Writers who decide to give up all plastic in one week are not likely to succeed in creating long-term sustainable changes either. But there’s another element that can undermine our efforts at changing ourselves and the world: GUILT.

When I asked Fake Plastic Fish readers to take the Show Us Your (Plastic) Trash Challenge, I emphasized several times that guilt is not necessary or even helpful. Did I say this to make you guys feel better so that you’d participate in my little challenge? No way. And I hope those who took the challenge (and those who will take it in the future [have you done it yet?]) will come to understand what I have: that guilt gets in the way of seeing the truth.

I’m currently in the middle of reading … Read the rest

August 10, 2009

Green Moms speak out on Bottled Water

As a member of the #Blogher09 Green Team, I had the privilege of participating in a conference call with one of the Blogher Conference’s largest sponsors: PepsiCo. Why did the Green Team want to speak with Pepsi? Because in addition to peddling sodas and other flavored drinks, Pepsi has gotten into the bottled water business. Its brand is Aquafina. And we felt that Pepsi’s bringing Aquafina bottled water to the BlogHer conference would undermine the steps the Green Team had taken to encourage attendees to carry their own reusable bottles and to drink the local tap water.

In preparation for our meeting with Pepsi, the members of the Green Team as well as several members of the Green Moms Carnival wrote posts about the problems with bottled water. The conference is over, but bottled water will continue to be an ongoing issue, so I thought I would share with you the other posts these highly intelligent and articulate women came up with.

Green… Read the rest

August 7, 2009

My Green Chicago Trip, Part 2: Transportation & Sightseeing

Chicago is one of the best cities to see without a car! And boy, did I see a lot. I won’t bore you with all my trip photos in this post. Here’s a link to my Chicago vacation photos on Flickr, for those who are interested. I’ll just give you a glimpse of the car-free fun I had. Click on any photo to see the larger version.

My feet are my favorite mode of transit. Sunday evening, after I checked into the hostel, they took me around the neighborhood and over to Buckingham Fountain to see some wonderous sights in the dark:

Monday morning, I met up with a Fake Plastic Fish reader: the one and only Clif Brown, he of the awesome, thought-provoking comments. Clif lives nearby and made an excellent tour guide for our hours-long walk…

through downtown…

Millenium Park…

and along Lake Michigan…

where we had zero-waste ice cream cones and chatted with a few ducks. How fortunate I am to be able to spend a simple day on foot enjoying… Read the rest