The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: November 2009

November 30, 2009

Notes on a Plastic-Free, Shopping-Free Holiday

Have you ever had so much fun that you completely forgot to take pictures? That’s what happens when the day is all about great food, friends, and silly games. Our friends Red & Jen (that’s them on the left) hosted a Thanksgiving potluck, and you know what? I didn’t see a lick of plastic. Okay, maybe I just wasn’t looking for it. Because sometimes I just have to turn off my “Fake Plastic Fish” brain and turn on my “connecting with others and forgetting about judgments” brain. I kinda wish that part of my gray matter would light up more often.

So here are a few notes with only a few pictures (which were actually taken by Jen and sent to me the next day!)


1) Michael and I got up early Thanksgiving morning and cooked butternut squash pie with a gluten-free pecan crust, baked yams (w/ butter, brown sugar, & lemon juice), and Autumn Harvest Salad with Persimmons. I got a little frantic time-wise… Read the rest

November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving, Buy Nothing Day, & My Travel Mug

stainless steel travel mug

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. This post is not really about today but tomorrow:  the day the media insists on calling “Black Friday.”  I’m choosing instead to honor “Buy Nothing Day.” And to celebrate Buy Nothing Day, I am not going to replace my lost travel mug. And I’m not just going to wait until Saturday to replace it either. Here’s a little background…

This was my travel mug. Nice, huh? Stainless steel outside and in. Yeah, some plastic, which at this point seems to be inevitable with travel mugs. I lost it a few weeks ago and have been carrying a big ceramic mug with me, which is not so practical since it has no top and could be easily broken. But this is not the first travel mug I’ve lost. I lost the previous one, which looked exactly like this, back in October of 2008.  I’d had it for about a year.

See, I lose things. A few years ago, I left an iPod in the back seat of a taxi cab. I left a camera… Read the rest

November 25, 2009

You’ve Got Your Reusable Bottle. Now What?

Filling up your bottle from the kitchen sink is easy. But how about when you’re out in the world and need a drink? With water fountains disappearing and restaurants reluctant to fill bottles without a purchase, it’s sometimes frustrating to find drinking water for free.

Enter a couple of web sites that can help.

TapIt was begun in New York City and is spreading across the U.S., now with locations in the Bay Area. Partner eating establishments commit to providing water to us in our reusable bottles at no charge.

If you have an iPhone, you can download the TapIt app. If you have a SmartPhone, you can simply browse to and you’ll be directed right to the search page. I tried it on my Moto Q9c. It works.

If you don’t have one of these fancy Internet-capable phones, check the web site before leaving the house to find out where the TapIt partners are in your destination. And don’t forget your bottle.

While there are… Read the rest

November 23, 2009

Okay, So It’s Not the Cover of the Rolling Stone, But Still…

Have you ever written a letter to the editor? It’s something each of us could do, and with the Internet, it’s easier than ever.   So why was last month the first time I ever tried it? Oh sure, I leave comments on blogs and online newspaper web sites, but I had never sent a letter to be published in print until the article “An Ocean of Plastic” appeared in the October 29, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, of all places.

Now, we’re not talking about a couple of small paragraphs. Kitt Doucette’s article about Captain Charles Moore, the North Pacific Gyre, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the problems of plastic pollution is a 4-page spread in the center of the magazine, right after Madonna. I wish I could link to it so you can read it for yourself. Unfortunately, Rolling Stone doesn’t publish all its articles online. At this point, the only way to read it is to buy a back issue.

So anyway, it’s a great … Read the rest

November 18, 2009

Say No to Fake Plastic Wishbones & Other Thanksgiving Waste

Fake plastic wishbones?  Around Thanksgiving time last year, I read a post by blogger Rejin from Urban Botany blasting People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for promoting plastic Lucky Break Wishbones .  She wrote:

Hasn’t PETA ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? They claim these wishbones and their packages are recyclable, but let’s face it: 99.99% of them are going to end up in a landfill, or in the ocean, where they will probably be swallowed by sea turtles [And I would add baby albatross chicks] who will choke and die…. Animals, PETA, animals! Do you hear me?

Apparently PETA did not because the organization promoted the wishbones again this year.

But I’m not here to pick on PETA. I relate this story because it got me thinking about other types of Thanksgiving waste.  According to Bob Lilienfeld of the Use Less Stuff Report,  between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans generate 25 … Read the rest

November 16, 2009

How to Survive the Green Festival

The Green Festival… this weekend was my third and probably best experience attending. I’ve read negative reviews of the Green Festival from green bloggers bemoaning that the vendor floor is so consumption-oriented and there is still so much plastic packaging and plastic products. Those comments may be valid. But you know what? The experience of The Green Festival is what you make of it. Here are some tips:

1) Meet up with your friends — the folks who create the products that you do love. I hung out with Jay from Life Without Plastic, the company that sells the airtight stainless containers I reviewed a year ago, on Friday afternoon and toured the vendor floor with him for a bit. He had just spent the previous days at the Green Business Conference and his enthusiasm was contagious.

2) Be a little outrageous. It’s the Green Festival. It’s your chance to sparkle. Walking past the ChicoBag table with Jay, I spotted a huge … Read the rest

November 13, 2009

Practically Green Book Review and DIY Project

I first met Micaela Preston through the Green Moms Carnival. Her blog, Mindful Momma, is full of practical advice and Do-It-Yourself projects for living a more sustainable life. She was also my roommate at the BlogHer conference this summer, where she impressed everyone with her ingenious handmade business card holder, made from the pocket of an old blouse and sporting two compartments — one for her own cards and the other for cards she received from other people. So it’s not surprising that she has just published a new book.

Micaela sent me a copy of Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making.  I love it. Each chapter is divided into two sections. Buy It Green includes useful charts and lists that explain the various green standards and environmental and health hazards to watch out for when purchasing food, clothing, home furnishings, toys, etc. Do It Green includes recipes and instructions for making your own… Read the rest

November 11, 2009

HP Ink Cartridge Hack: Save plastic and ink

This will be a short post. More of a rant, actually. And hopefully useful to at least one person out there.

Last night I discovered Hewlett Packard’s scheme to get printer owners to spend more money on ink cartridges: cartridge expiration dates.

I have an HP Officejet 9110 that uses ink cartridges with expiration dates actually programmed into them, causing them to stop working whether they still have ink in them or not. And when that happens, the printer itself stops working too — whether I need to use that color or not.

I don’t know if HP’s newer printers use the same kind of cartridges, but this deal irks me for multiple reasons. First, it’s a total waste of plastic and perfectly good ink to program the cartridge to expire before it’s used up. I don’t care if the cartridges can be returned to be recycled. Recycling uses more energy and resources than actually using up what we already have. And second, this… Read the rest

November 10, 2009

Three Trashy Women

I’ve been meeting just the trashiest people in the last couple of weeks. Um… trashy in a good way.

Trashy Beachkeeper

I met Sara Bayles after the Blogger Beach Cleanup on October 24. You know, the one I missed. Sara’s blog, The Daily Ocean, tracks her goal of collecting trash on the beach in Santa Monica, CA for 365 days. She’s currently completed Day 72 and already collected 336.13 pounds of trash ALL BY HERSELF. And get this: she only collects trash for 20 minutes each day. That’s a lot to collect in a very short amount of time.

Sara is a ceramics teacher and told me that while always wanted to participate in an organized beach cleanup, she routinely found herself working and was never able to make it to one of them. So when she moved close to the beach this February, she took it upon herself to create her own beach cleanup program and invite others in the community to join her. So far, the community has collected an additional… Read the rest

November 9, 2009

No Impact Man Chap 4: Wanting Is Not Getting

I just got back last night from a weekend meditation retreat, during which I sat in silence, ate in silence, walked around the retreat center in silence, and then snuck into my room to read Chapter 4 of No Impact Man. (Reading on retreat is discouraged. I do not encourage you to do such a think. Tsk tsk. Bad Beth!)

I’m really kidding about the “tsk tsk” because Chapter 4 actually fit in quite beautifully with the spirit of this weekend. While it’s one of my favorite chapters because it’s where Colin Beavan writes about plastic and its effects on our health and that of the planet, it’s also beautiful in how it explores what causes human beings to overconsume in the first place.

One day, early on in the project, Colin gets it into his head that if he can only find a particular type of net shopping bag that he saw in France, his life will be so much better and he’ll suddenly be the environmentalist he wants to be. He’s… Read the rest