The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: December 2009

December 30, 2009

My Cat Eats Plastic

Many of you have seen Chris Jordan’s recent heartbreaking photos of dead albatross chicks on Midway Atoll with bellies full of plastic.

And perhaps you have seen, or at least heard how sea turtles eat plastic (PDF), mistaking it for the jelly fish upon which they usually dine.  (Photo courtesy of

Most recently, beached whales have been found with plastic in their bellies.

People see these images or read these stories, maybe feel sad for a minute, and then go on about their lives. Albatrosses and sea turtles are creatures most of us don’t encounter on a daily basis. Their fate is sad, but it doesn’t directly affect us. Well, I want to show some photos and relate a story from the Terry-Stoler household that brings the issue of harm to animals a little closer to home.

My cat eats plastic.  I’ve said this before.  Arya eats big holes in polyester fleece blankets:

You should have seen how she went for the polyester … Read the rest

December 29, 2009

Can a “Buy Nothing New” Pledge Help Reduce Plastic Consumption?

The following is a guest post from Katy Wolk-Stanley, author of The Non-Consumer Advocate blog. In keeping with last week’s posts about clutter and stuff, Katy’s post illustrates the relationship between plastic consumption and consumerism. Enjoy!

My name is Katy Wolk-Stanley and I am a die-hard member of The Compact, (a worldwide buy nothing new movement) and have been since I joined up in January of 2007. I buy used gifts; I buy used school supplies; Heck, I even buy used sheets.

It may sound like a source of frustration to not be able to walk into a store and quickly grab life’s necessities, but nothing could be farther from the truth. It turns out that much of what I had been grabbing were not necessities, but lots of stuff that were simply wants.

Not buying new has actually freed my life up. Saving not only untold thousands of dollars, but forcing me to make conscious and deliberate decisions about my purchases and how I live my life.… Read the rest

December 28, 2009

Homemade Cough Syrup & Other Meds

Do you have a cough right now or know someone who does? Then I want to talk to you.

Earlier this month, I caught a cold and towards the end of it was hacking pretty badly. Now, I realize that you don’t want to suppress a productive cough. But this cough was bad enough to keep me up at night, robbing me of much needed rest. So I polished off two plastic bottles of cough/cold medicine: the remainder of a bottle of Nyquil that I bought years ago (yeah, it still worked) as well as the last couple of doses of yummy Prometh cough syrup with Codeine. And by yummy, I mean I held my hose and chugged it down, trying to bypass my taste buds as much as possible.

Not only do these two products come in plastic bottles, but they contain nasty ingredients: alcohol (which I am trying to avoid for personal reasons); artificial dyes; high fructose corn syrup; polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol (petroleum derived products also used in anti-freeze); methylparaben and propylparaben… Read the rest

December 25, 2009

Learning How to Love Christmas

What I Used to Love

When I was a child, Christmas really was the best time of the year.  It meant four kinds of treats from Mom Mom:  sand tarts, Mexican tea cookies, seven layer cookies, and chocolate fudge with walnuts.  It meant driving around to see the colored lights.  Singing holiday songs at school and Christmas hymns at church.  Watching the specials on TV: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman.  Decorating the Christmas tree, which was a real one until we discovered my brother’s allergies.  Waiting anxiously upstairs until we were allowed to come down on Christmas morning.  And of course, it meant Santa and presents and toys.  I believed in Santa until I was eight years old, even while getting teased by kids at school.  He’d come down the chimney (that we didn’t have) and land in the fake cardboard fireplace, which also served as a place to hang our stockings. … Read the rest

December 23, 2009

What’s Clogging Up Your Life? A Story of Unwatched Videos & Other Stuff

The Hours is one of my favorite movies of all time. My first time seeing it in the theater created such a profound reaction in me that I wept uncontrollably through the entire film. I was still so emotional afterwards, I had to hide in the bathroom stall before facing the world. When people asked me if The Hours was a good movie, I couldn’t even answer. I didn’t know if it was objectively good or merely spoke to me. Spoke? More like reached in and tore my guts out. The second time I saw it, I had almost the same reaction. So when the film came out on DVD, I bought it immediately.

A few nights ago, I thought I would watch The Hours again. I pulled it off the shelf and realized that from the time I purchased it around 2003, I had watched it exactly nonce (which is once minus one.) Zero times. It was still in the plastic packaging! As I pulled off the wrapper, I thought about the idea of possessions, owning things that we put aside and never look at again. I looked … Read the rest

December 18, 2009

PACT: Changing the World through Changing my Underwear

(2017 Update:  Please note that unfortunately, Pact has changed its packaging and is using a lot more plastic.  Specifics about the new packaging have been detailed below.)

This is what happened. I generally hate shopping for clothes. And I really hate shopping for underwear, which you often can’t try on. (How can I know how it’s going to fit and feel if I can’t try it on first?) And now, with the added conviction that my undies have to not only feel good but be good for the planet, finding the right ones has become a real drag. So I procrastinated on buying new ones, repairing my old panties over and over again until they were just shreds of thread. I had a lot of reasons to hope I never got into an accident!

The motivation to finally take care of business came before my trip to Disneyland. I knew I’d be sharing a hotel room with a co-worker. Holy crap! What if she sees my holey underwear? I jumped on Google and once again started my hunt … Read the rest

December 17, 2009

No Impact Man Ch 6 – 8: Plastic-Free Cheese, Saving Money, Living in the Dark

As always, the questions raised in my No Impact Man book posts are relevant to everyone whether they have read the book or not. Please join the discussion.

Two days ago I asked: Why are that the majority of Fake Plastic Fish readers female (according to Quantcast)? Reader “underbelly” responded with a theory of gender roles that are still promoted by the culture:

To me, the green-o-sphere seems to be dominated by people in charge of the domestic realm. And since gender disparity still overwhelmingly exists in things like parenting, cleaning, cooking, buying household items, etc., guess who reads more about non-toxic cookware?


Sure, [eco-men] out there, but as long as little girls help mommy cook during Thanksgiving while little boys watch football with daddy, there will always be this disparity.

Colin Beavan, the No Impact Man, happens to be one of those eco-men who defies gender stereotypes. In Chapter 6 of the book, he… Read the rest

December 16, 2009

Is Recycling the Answer to Holiday Waste?

Actually, no. Recycling is certainly important. We do it in our home. But it’s not enough, and here are a few reasons why.

Recycling is a business.

Like any business, recycling relies on markets to survive. Do you know what happens to the metal, glass, paper, and plastic you put into your recycle bin? After sorting at your community’s recycling center, it is sold to companies that do that actual recycling, breaking down the materials and incorporating them into new products. But what happens if no one wants to buy the stuff we toss in the bin?

A NY Times article last year reported that much of our community recycling was piling up in warehouses or ending up in landfills, due to the economic downturn and lack of demand from China, the biggest export market for recyclables from the United States.

Recycling costs communities money.

According to an L.A. Times article last month, recycling centers across California are shutting down in response… Read the rest

December 15, 2009

Recycle vs. Refill: Conversations with HP, Cartridge World, & Silo Ink

Ah, plastic ink jet cartridges. It’s an ongoing dilemma for someone trying to live with less plastic. My strategy: keep printing to a minimum to save ink and make the cartridges last longer. But after that… I used to have to buy new ones. New plastic. At $40 a pop. (I bought a monster of an HP printer 5 years ago requiring very expensive cartridges. My fault for not doing the research.)

Back then, when I attempted to take my empties to Cartridge World for refilling, I was told that my particular units could not be refilled due to a proprietary chip embedded in the cartridge itself. I would have to continue paying full price for new plastic cartridges and send my old ones back to HP for recycling.

So you can imagine how irritated I was last month to discover that not only were the cartridges not refillable, but the chips contain an expiration date, after which the cartridges will not work whether they still have ink in them or not.  After my diatribe… Read the rest

December 14, 2009

Men Less Plastic: What Do You Want?

Last week, after several posts about cosmetics, I promised one targeted to my male readers.  Here it is.  But women, of course, are encouraged to weigh in.

As most of you know, this blog is written by a female.  Genetically, physically, mentally female.  I couldn’t be, nor have I ever desired to be, any other gender.  (Okay, sometimes out of pure curiosity, I wish I could be a “Dude for a Day” just to see how it feels.  What woman hasn’t wished that at some point?) And I’ve noticed (and Quantcast confirms) that although I have a handful of regular, and truly special, male readers, most people who follow Fake Plastic Fish are female.  Certainly most who leave comments are female.

So I have some questions.  Since there are certainly men aspiring to live with less plastic, why don’t more of your persuasion visit this blog?

Is it simply that the writer is female, or is it that the topics are perceived to be female-centered? … Read the rest