The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

August 5, 2009

What I learned from #BlogHer09

Despite the impression I might have given in my previous post, “Blogher ’09 and The Story of Stuff,” the BlogHer conference was not only about swag and vendors and overconsumption. The experience had a huge impact on me, bigger than I can properly articulate at this point. But for right now, here are my photos and a few thoughts, in chronological order, beginning with Thursday night.

1) It doesn’t really matter if I order my martini with “no plastic spear” for the olives…


if I drink so much that I end up sick and needing a plastic bottle of this…

2) When we ask for “greener” sponsors, “organic” is not enough.


How organic is a product that is more plastic than food? And that is promoted with a ton of paper waste?

3) Green moms party by hanging out at cocktail parties testing their purses for lead. Thankfully, Jennifer’s XRF Analyzer did not find any lead in my organic hemp purse. Did we really expect it to?

Photo by Lisa Nelson-Woods
4) Is a zero waste lunch (durable plates, napkins, utensils, glasses, etc.) negated by the processed Ragu food on the plate?

Photo by not_losing_yet on Flickr

Not when shared with good friends! (Pictured: Lynn from Organicmania.)

5) Singing can pretty much make up for any perceived injustice.


Even if I am not the singer I hope to be some day. :-) (Watch this video at your own risk.)

6) And perhaps convincing Pepsi not to bring Aquafina bottled water to the event was not the coup we thought it was, since plastic cups were provided for flavored Sobe water instead.


I ended up with one plastic cup for my tally, having not thought to bring my travel mug to a cocktail party and being reluctant to run up and get it for fear of missing my turn to sing. :-)

7) But dancing, like singing, can make up for even more perceived injustices! (Diane MacEachern and MC Milker give us something to talk about. Video here.)

8) Meeting the women of the Green Moms Carnival in person, sharing opinions, advice, laughter, T-shirts and plotting our next moves… priceless.


(Lynn Miller from OrganicMania, Micaela Preston from mindful Momma, MC Milker from Not Quite Crunchy Parent, Lisa Nelson-Woods from Condo Blues, Me, and Diane MacEachern from Big Green Purse)

9) I wish I had a travel mug without a plastic top. Working on that. For now, just glad I remembered to bring it in the first place!

Photo by Diane MacEachern
10) The women on the Green/Eco Blogging panel discussed leadership and how we decide what products to review and whether they are as safe as the manufacturers tell us they are.


And then we met with one of those manufacturers… a PR rep from Procter & Gamble. Engaged in discussion about phthalates in fragrances and whether big stinky lumps of Bounce fabric softener were appropriate to have left in our hotel rooms.

Photo by Diane MacEachern
11) Siel Ju (Green LA Girl) and I discussed how the conference could have been greener.

12) Sometimes we have to make choices. I’m glad I chose to have dinner Saturday night with the Green Moms and Karen Hanrahan of Best of Mother Earth who came down to meet us.


Also, really glad to have met Linda Anderson from Citizen Green and Amy Gates from Crunchy Domestic Goddess. Still, I wish I had known this woman was going to be performing at BowlHer that night:

Photo by not_losing_yet on Flickr

It’s Brooke White from American Idol. But since I got to have lunch with this guy…


How can I really complain about anything?

So this was fun… posting my BlogHer photos with little quips, even though several of said quips are kind of… um… negative. But it’s how I’m feeling right now. Actually pretty down in the dumps.

My friend Axelle says I should blog about how depressed I am. Let it out. Be honest. I dunno. Does anyone really want to hear me whine?

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14 years ago

About blogging and NOT publishing:

I once wrote a blog entry about a recurring nightmare I have about the school shooting I experienced a few years ago. It felt so good to hit publish on that one! But a few days later, my husband read it and said, "You absolutely must take that off your blog." He was right, but it was so great to get it all out in words, and to send it out there into the world, even if it was just for a few days.

Blogging can be good therapy! (-;

14 years ago

I was sad to miss Blogher and hope be there next year and I am so glad you pointed out the not sustainable practices of the event! I hope the planners of the event will see your post and make the changes for next year :)

14 years ago

If letting your real opinions and true feelings out results in constructive criticism of the BlogHer event, then yes, I would most definitely love to hear you 'whine'. :)
We are not going to make it if we sugar coat everything or sweep it under the rug. And by 'make it' I mean survive and thrive as human beings.
You are a bold, honest, wonderful person. You have slayed dragons before. Go ahead and let it fly at BlogHer.

14 years ago

Ah, whining, my personal blog demon! I try very very hard not to whine. A thoughtful complaint, or a simple explanation of negative feelings or a negative experience – that's different. Not everything is super happy positive good news all day every day. That's life.

I find it helps to take a step back and write the complaint from a "big picture" perspective. A little bit of distance can help put things in a larger context.

I also try to write those posts when I'm feeling relatively sane about the issue. Sometimes like SavvyChristine says, I'll just pound out a big long bitch, all frothy and outraged. For those posts, I do not click "publish" when I'm finished!

14 years ago

Yes, please post. It helps to hear the ups and downs. Hugs!

14 years ago

Yes, I want to hear you whine. It's your voice of truth that is influencing and educating so many of us. "Whining" is really just venting which leads to processing and getting deeper into the truth of what is. When we live in a culture where life is served on a plastic platter we become numb to it. Do we really see the truth??… the reality of the stinking mess our culture of waste has produced?
You go girl. No matter what you say it's gonna make us laugh and even cry because you are daring and fearless to just say it. I hope this deep wave brings many fruitful insights you can share.
btway, holy crap, I can't believe you got to have lunch with Tim Gunn!! I adore him! As he would say "carry on people!"

14 years ago

Starfish, baby, starfish.

It matters to this one.

knutty knitter
14 years ago

Your blog was one of the first I found in here that I could relate to as a green person. I used to feel a bit of an outsider for all my wacky doings and thought as only some of my family relate to that…much :)

Anyway, its been a #$%@ of a day here.
We are fighting to keep our kids in the local alternate school and its not looking good which means home schooling again….sigh!

Feel free to whine – then I can do so too. Guilt free :)

viv in nz

14 years ago

Hi there-

If you could see how much your blog has changed the way I live in the world you would not be depressed. Every day you make a difference with the people who read your blog and every day one more person will find you (or someone like you) and one person at a time, it will make a difference.

As Margaret Mead said "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

and my favorite,

"be the change you want to see in the world" – Gandhi

But its okay to let it out if you want to because its normal and natural to have ups and downs

As Shrek says "better out than in! "

Thanks Beth, and whine away, we're all here for you :)

Lynn from
14 years ago

Beth, the hard thing about meeting and becoming friends with your readers is that then you get phone calls or emails instead of blog comments! So here's my comment and now I"m off to email you.. :)

Condo Blues
14 years ago

I think you have something there about the cats. I'm missing a bottle of local wine from the wine rack. Maybe your cats and my dog had a wine tasting via web cam while we were in Chicago?

Write the post. You don't have to publish it. I have a similar one in the works that I don't know if I'm going to post but it helps getting that stuff out in writing.

If it makes you feel better I'm sure I'm bowing to the sheer awesomeness of your stainless steel mug in photo #9. I left mine in the car and used tiny ceramic coffee cups at the conference.

14 years ago


Frankly it's amazing how perky you are! The environmental situation can be very depressing. At work (enviro NGO) I had to ask one of the biologists to stop sending us emails about – well everything – because he was depressing us all. We all have our days.

Today, I was reading an EPA report about climate change and was fine until I noticed it was from 1989! 20 years ago and we haven't made any progress. sigh.

It will get better! :-)

just ducky
14 years ago


You know a bit about the depression that my family members struggle with—so you know you are definitely NOT alone. It's OK to not be happy 24/7. Blog about it…it's OK.

~Just Ducky

14 years ago

Hi Beth – One thing I love about your blog is how honest you are. You tell it like it is, with the good and the bad.

That's how it should be. No-one wants to read about a perfect person with a perfect life. We want to read about you, so that we can learn and understand and share. And maybe then we can all grow a little bit stronger together. Together :-)

Beth Terry
14 years ago

Okay, Axelle. I will tell. I didn't buy any chocolate because I was too depressed to decide which kind to get. Nor did I buy any baked goods.

I bought comfort food: mac & cheese and saag paneer from Berkeley Bowl deli in compostable cardboard boxes cuz I didn't have any containers with me; 3 nectarines (which turned out to be very tasty despite Axelle's decree that they had no smell); 2 avocados; a bunch of bananas; and a bottle of organic wine in a glass bottle with a natural wine cork.

Axelle, how is this interesting?

The wine is gone now, by the way. I think my kitties must have drunk it because I don't remember consuming it myself and Michael doesn't drink.

14 years ago

Will you tell your readers what you chose from all there was to choose from at Berkeley Bowl, in an attempt to take the edge off the discomfort of feeling down & depressed, aka HOOK (Hormones Out Of Kilter)?

A small part of the selection included many shades of chocolate in bulk or bar, breads and sweet delights fresh from local bakeries, deli, a wide variety of cheeses, and nuts, ice cream, popcorn, chips, and/or dips.

I used to need an entire Trader Joe's Pound Plus Milk Chocolate bar on a daily basis when I had bad HOOK but now I'm into Dots.

Beth Terry
14 years ago

Mel — that part is coming up in a Chicago vacation post — along with the photo of getting Chinese food in my Lunchbot! Since the conference was over at that point, I didn't include it in my Blogher post. Never fear. There is more Chicago coming!

Everyone, you guys are so nice. Thank you. Really really really.


shot in the arm
14 years ago

Well I'm sad you didn't post the photos of walking around Navy Pier and the maze…those were happy fun times! Plus it was awesome to finally meet you!

And yes you should vent about anything you want. We are all hear to listen and be a part of your community. Thats part of what community is…listening and being supportive right? We can all cheer you on or cheer you up!


14 years ago

Go ahead and vent – your blog usually depresses the crap out of me anyway LOL (not your blog's fault – it's the world, you know?). At least it's reassuring to know there are others out there who can't stay "blog face" chipper all the time. (-;

14 years ago

Great recap. The Bounce in the room really threw me, the smell was just too much for me and I got it down to the swag swap table ASAP.

As for blogging about being down in the dumps – I agree with the others, it is your blog, it isn't whining, and it can be therapeutic.

14 years ago

Hi hon

Whine away! We're all here for ya. Let's try to chase those blues away

14 years ago

Ooooo…I wish I could have been there! Maybe next time. I love how you and the other green bloggers stand your ground and try to improve the event. Keep up the good work!

Jennifer Taggart, Thesmartmama
14 years ago

Yes, blog about all of your feelings . . . I think the highs and lows of the journey help us all.

Anita Kaiser
14 years ago

Since we bought the store in the fall I haven't been blogging very much except on the store blog but I always love coming by and reading what you and those many other green mamas you mentioend are up too. I hear you on the down in the dumps things – sometimes it's hard when you get out into the full real world and see how many people still aren't even the slightest bit aware. Not sure if that's the reason but I know it often happens to me! Anyway – hope tomorrow is a better day!

14 years ago

I love that the greenies were testing things for lead at a cocktail party. Is that the equivalent of frat guys getting drunk and smashing beer cans on their heads?

14 years ago

whining can be cathartic! and good for your the long run;-) thanks fo rthe run down here–looks like it was fun—and meeting online friends in person is great! (I think so, anyway)
by the way, Beth-I am returning to Berkeley in Sept–we should have tea or something…

14 years ago

Yes, I also think you should blog about how down in the dumps you are. For starters, this is your blog, and it wouldn't be sharing the entire plastic-free journey if you only gave us the high points and not the low points. Everyone knows there are ups and downs.

Plus, you don't actually have to click the "publish" button. Sometimes it helps to write it all out, reread it, and realize that you didn't need to send it to the intertoobz after all.

Crunchy Domestic Goddess
14 years ago

we should have taken a pic together! next year for sure, when we hang out a lot more too. :)
also, blogging about depression (or anxiety in my case) can be very therapeutic (and i don't think of it as whining at all). it was reassuring to hear from others that i'm not alone.
hugs to you.