The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

December 14, 2009

Men Less Plastic: What Do You Want?

shirtless white-haired man in grass on computerLast 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?  Aside from last week’s posts about cosmetics, and one or two I’ve written on feminine hygiene, I honestly don’t know what makes a post interesting to one or the other gender.  We all have to eat, right?  We all buy clothes or use electronics or, to greater or lesser extent, receive packages through the mail.  We drink;  we shop; we entertain ourselves.

I have noticed that a higher percentage of green blogs written by men deal with technology.  Are guys, in general, more interested in technological solutions to environmental problems than changes aimed at reducing our personal impact by living more simply?

Are there topics of particular interest to men that I’m leaving out? Or is the blog written in a female style, whatever the heck that is?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Not that I’m actually planning to change anything.  Being me, I have the voice and point of view that I happen to have.  But just as I’d love to be in your skin for a day and see how it feels, I’m curious to know how you guys perceive this blog, or other blogs written by women, for that matter.

Just wondering.

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Beth Terry
13 years ago

Angry Beaver! I just noticed that I referred to you as “she” in my request for ideas about the recycling station. Did you see that? I think I was influenced by the same societal norms that underbelly was talking about. I assumed you were female simply because your question was related to children and school. Yikes! I am just as brain-washed as everyone else!

13 years ago

i’m mostly just repeating what undebelly said, but as fascinated as my boyfriend is by measurement (he LOVES the dumb Killawatt) he’s totally uninterested in your garbage-weighing posts, which I thought would be right up his alley.

And I think it’s two things, both typically gendered.

One is an unwillingness to do stuff if it’s not the Big Important Stuff – so he’s more interested in legislation than lifestyle change (unless it’s quantifiable, like cutting electrical use – he actually did the math on the carbon we would be saving by turning shit off, if we were still using coal-based electricity). Or if it’s a manly competition like the “how far will you bike?” or “how cold is your house” ones.

The other is that *most* of the plastic-free changes have to do with not buying stuff, or buying different stuff – and that’s pretty universally women’s work. At least the stuff like food, ink cartridges, makeup, where the packaging is a high percentage of the total item’s impact.

13 years ago

@Beth Sure, I will be happy to do a guest post on my straight razor adventure. I can contact you in January when I get the process started.

13 years ago

Hi Beth,

Thanks for your Men-oriented post. Neat idea, and very interesting comments it has sparked.

I think underbelly has a point, though I’m glad to say I don’t fit in that mold. I tend to do much of the cooking and cleaning, and a fair portion of the childcare in our home – and this is just how it works in our couple based on our interests, thresholds and the structure of our day-to-day life. I sure don’t fit in the mold Dennis describes either. JOE3, er, no comment – but great idea to give out fabric bags for free. I can relate to a lot of what Drew says.

I guess my point is that I find it very hard to categorize according to gender because the way I see it, every person is different. Generally, what I like is just what I like, it’s not based on gender. There are men out there who are reading you, and that’s great. When I read your posts, I’m not thinking it’s Beth the woman writing, but Beth the person. Frankly, I think if you just keep researching and writing as beautifully as you do, you will attract those who want and need to read you, regardless of what gender they happen to be.

But hey, if we’re looking for generalizations to work with, I’m sure a post on cars would bring in some more male readers – e.g., something about how many car manufacturers (especially the German ones) are now manufacturing their cars to be completely recyclable – a life cycle approach.

Good luck in your gender analysis!


Beth Terry
13 years ago

@Drew I hear you on the gardening plastic. I do know that permaculturists generally use black and white newspaper or cardboard as a ground cover rather than plastic. That is what Barbara Kingsolver and her family used, as reported in her book *Animal Vegetable Mineral*.

@underbelly I’ll check out Sociological Images. Sounds fascinating. In my home, my husband actually does more of the traditionally female work than I do. He cooks all our meals, vacuums the floors, irons, does the laundry, etc. I just help. So it really doesn’t occur to me that such gender disparity still exists. Perhaps I’d see it if we had kids. We have cats, and he takes care of them as much as I do.

@RD Allen The Pacific Gyre is what got me into this project and blog in the first place, and I’ve actually written about it quite a bit.

@Dennis I actually did write a couple of sex posts a while back. Not to attract men but simply because I am a human who has sex!

Probably won’t be writing about fishing because I have no interest in it. Could get a guest post on surfing because I have many friends in the Surfrider Foundation, which encourages surfers to take care of the oceans that they enjoy. They actually have a Rise Above Plastics campaign. Men’s clothes — I have one on underwear coming up this week! Booze — since I quit drinking, probably not. Saving money — Yes siree!

@Rob, I understand that women can learn to pee standing up like guys, so I’m thinking maybe we can learn to write in the snow with no hands.

@Joe3 ”No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should Amen. And therefore you are doing what you need to do in the moment, and I and other greenies are doing what we need to do. The outcome is unknown. All we can do right now is our part — because it’s the right thing to do.

@shaggies In the past, I have put out a call for guest bloggers (when I myself have been too busy to post regularly) and all the people who volunteered were women. At least that’s what I recall. Would you like to guest post? I’d love to hear about your experience using the straight razor!

@Jesse Interesting to realize that women, in general, like to comment more than men. However, I have seen tons of comments on the more technologically related sites. Maybe it depends on the topic?

@Matt “Why did you feel it necessary to make the blog a male/female issue? I can see it being a gender issue relating to masculinity and femininity, but why call out ‘men’?” Because according to Quantcast, the majority of my readers are women and I just wondered why. Not calling anyone out. Just curious is all. I have no idea how Quantcast gets its information.

@EcoYogini, Of course, men are not only interested in sex. And also, most women ARE interested in sex. It is a good topic for discussion as it relates to plastic because any aspect of our lives is good to discuss in relation to plastic.

@Clif What does your girlfriend think about your designs on Nordegren? :-)

13 years ago

Wow, what a response to your request for comments. There’s nothing to add. But that has never stopped me!

Where’s an interview with Danica Patrick? I’ll bet her racing gear is all plastic, the cars too.

Not one word here about football.

Couldn’t you pop in a picture or two of Elin Nordegren now and then? I don’t follow golf, so had never heard about her until the “incident”. OMG, Tiger – you fool!!!

How about something on extreme snowmobiling in Yellowstone?

HEY! Brainstorm here (thanks to Hef) – a pictorial series – “The Women Readers of FPF Without Their Plastic On!

In short, women are interested in everything, men are interested in women and, if there is time left over, other stuff.

Women like to talk. I can’t tell you how different are my conversations (and emails) from men and women. One complete sentence if I’m lucky from the guys, whole paragraphs from women. Your blog is conversational.

As I’ve said before, I’m here about the plastic but also because you have such a concise, revealing, humorous and informative writing style – and your photos are incredible, even the macro of the lipstick blew me away. You just do it all so well! You should add a subscript – Beth Terry/Born to Blog.

No need to change. Just keep on being you and your readers, female or male, will follow. There is a world of blogs, so people can be very precise and picky in what they choose to read. You’ve taken what could be a very very restricted topic and expanded it in so many interesting ways. Do your thing.

Gotta go read the paper – saw a headline “Nordegren may soon be available…”

13 years ago

I gotta chime in with underbelly- she is so right. it’s not some inherent biological differences, but socially constructed gender roles…

that being said- Andrew (my fiance) reads blogs frequently but also rarely comments. He is just as involved with the eco-lifestyle and feels just as passionately about plastic wrapper toilet paper.

I gotta say though- posting a topic about sex, lube, condoms just to attract more men… is insulting… and not only to women but even more so to the men it is supposedly geared to attract. How insulting to be thought only interested in sex and lube. I can firmly say that most of the men I know don’t like to be considered as walking neanderthals who are only interested in one thing.

Beth- I think you write an extremely non-gendered blog compared to the hundreds of eco-blogs out there. and until sexism and socially constructed gender roles no longer exist in our culture, then a disparity most likely will be reflected in almost all public spheres….

13 years ago

Hello. I’m a male who reads your blog on occasion and finds the content for the most part compelling and informative. It, along with my girlfriend’s interest in it, has expanded my awareness of issues relating to plastic and its detrimental impact upon the environment. I don’t feel a need to comment on your blog but this post was presented to me by my girlfriend, and I felt a desire to respond.

I must ask you: Why did you feel it necessary to make the blog a male/female issue? I can see it being a “gender” issue relating to masculinity and femininity, but why call out “men”? Is it that being environmentally aware, conscious, and concerned is perceived by the public as “feminine”, which might challenge a man’s sense of identity? And if so, why then do we live with such insecure “men”? Why do we raise boys to be this way? Are men inherently passive towards issues concerning actually helping the planet rather than destroying it?

I feel that men are just as active and concerned about the environment as women, but generally express their concern in ways that might tend to be different than women. I don’t know, this is just a guess. The tendency to comment on a blog, or to not comment on a blog, might be one difference between men and women? I read some blogs, and rarely feel the need to comment. Thank you for opening up this discussion and getting me, a male, to comment on a blog.

13 years ago

I agree with shaggies, maybe a male writer to add to the mix would add a wider range of topics appealing to more people.

Still loving you work

13 years ago

Male first time reader…found you from Rowdy Kittens, just one of the female written blogs I enjoy regularly. I think @underbelly has a good point, we do still live in a world where gender roles are played to a T…that said I think there’s a much simpler explanation for this one:

women just like to comment more than men do.

I’ve noticed on my own blog that the majority of comments are from the ladies. Guys, being more technically minded, will only say something when/if they feel it will have an impact or if they have a question. It was the same in school, the girls always speaking up in class and the guys always screwing around…I mean staying quiet…

I really like what I see here so far and will add you to my reader, keep it up!


13 years ago

Not to happy to have to follow JOE3 there, maybe I can get us back on track!

Hello, male here, and someone who has commented only once before. I have been keeping track on an RSS feed. I had Colin Beavan sign my copy of “No Impact Man” when he was here (SF Bay Area) a few months ago. I told him I was worried about plastic and he recommended your blog. I’ve been doing what I can on the de-plastification front since the summer. January will be big: I’ve committed myself to getting a straight razor!

In terms of suggestions, I might suggest that you add additional contributors (some male, some female) who might help branch out into the sort of topics that Dennis, I begrudgingly accept, talked about. Just having more posts about more topics (whatever they are) should interest more readers. I think what your really looking for is a larger audience. The law of large numbers should help balance the gender ratio. Perhaps with just a handful more contributors, you could achieve a great deal!

Just a thought. I’ll try to comment more from now on.

13 years ago

I’m male, new to your site.
I really don’t give a shit about your plastic stuff. NO disrespect meant, but the percentage of Americans involved with the GREEN crap is way to small to think we’d ever make a difference. Al Gore is a Bore…jumped on the green bandwagon ‘casus it’s the only forum that’LL allow him. His getting a ‘reward’ is akin to Obama and the peace prize….THAT ALONG SHOULD TELL YOU WHAT IT’S WORTH……………..
Now before you all go off on me….let me say, like the Desiderata :” No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should ” has been my ‘motto’….too many self rightous people and groups starting with the christians slaying the indians for not changing to their beliefs…..that was great when the whites took over America……believe what I do or die !! OH, YA…..religion in its finest form !!



13 years ago

You know, guy wise, I think that boys or rather males in our society are raised to think technically, females are trained to think logically. And the sad fact is the only difference between boys and girls, noy’s have an easier time writing their name in the snow. With less effort.

Of course take it to heart that if i knew what guys like, my blog would be full of bodaciuos babes with fabulous ta ta’s- not full of DIY art projects made from junk.

13 years ago

It’s perfect for men. I care about our personal impact on the environment. I am obsessed with not taking plastic as often as I can… militant, in fact I don’t know why more men don’t the site. Keep doing what you’re doing and thanks.

13 years ago

Hi Beth,
I’ve been a loyal reader via google reader for while also. As a greeny, guy guy you have stuck a nerve w/ me. Your blog does a great job of keeping a balanced view and voice but I think the message has done better w/ women. The whole eco-movement, not just the anti plastics arm! Guys are interested in what guy are interested in. If you make you’re blog less yoga mag and more field and stream….or better yet Playboy than you will get more men. Generalizations are probably a good thing here… so I’m going ahead. Here are some ideas. Women might like them too. But its more men’s mag and less yoga mag. Guys are simple.
Sex Topic…
Condoms and plastic pollution
Refillable Sex Lube?
Anything sex
Fishing-mono line collector and new biodegrade fishing lines–no plastic impact fishing–fishing line collectors like mono master–or little pouches.
Wetsuits and Surfboards–Going green, … new materials
Anything Sex
Mens no plastic clothes and apparel that are good.
Booze!—-making cocktails w/out plastic, and party drinking mugs. I need a good party drinking mug.
Money—though I am broke I like to think I’m a brilliant businessmen. Less Plastic=more money. Companies and peoples saving money.

Reporting for the Dudes,

RD Allen
13 years ago

Another male here – Because of my 30 years working to offer alternatives to plastic water bottles through whole house filtration and purification, I am biased toward that topic.

Something you may want to open up for discussion – How many of your members are aware of, or even know what the Pacific Gyre is? That is where a lot of our plastic items are ending up, badly affecting our ocean(s) and sea life. Talk about Plastic Fish…

And here on the planet, I mean, seriously folks? 40 Billion plastic water bottles planted in the ground each year? 700 years before they even begin to break down?.


13 years ago

Ok, I’m not male, but gender studies is one of my passions, so I have to weigh in.

The reason why a gender disparity exists in your readership is not due to the fact that men only like tech things, or because they don’t have it in them to care about the environment, or because your writing style is giiiirly.

Having said that, your readership also does not exist in a vacuum. 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?

It’s true that I’m generalizing here, as there are visible eco-men who care if it’s possible to buy toilet paper not wrapped in plastic. But in our society, women are still implicitly held accountable for all things domestic. How many stay-at-home dads do you know? Or college men interested in cooking beyond occasionally grilling a steak? Sure, they’re 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.

If you doubt what I am saying or are interested in learning more, there’s a blog called Sociological Images that deals specifically with cultural norms (like gender roles) and how advertising continues to enforce them.

13 years ago

Male here. I often don’t feel the need to comment (and also read on google reader). Maybe that is a gender difference? Although I typically do not comment on blogs, don’t know why.

There is one plastic-related issue I have been intrigued by, as I delve into the world of gardening (especially four season gardening) is alternatives to the sheet plastic used for building hoop houses and row covers. A lot of books I read about this kind of thing have an environmental bent, and then they have all these plans using plastic. Any insight?

I think what you are doing is great. I am not a big fan of a technological solution to environmental degradation, but I do think that many men are (my step-father, for one). I appreciate the simple tools that we can use already to make a difference in our day-to-day life.

Keep up the good work

13 years ago

The authors of “Freakonomics” and now “Superfreakonomics”, both male, are big on technical solutions. Their solution to global warming is to pump sulfur compounds high into the atmosphere, which will cool the globe the way volcanic eruptions do. The Union of Concerned Scientists doesn’t quite agree. Here’s a debate between them:

Angry Beaver
13 years ago

I’m a male.

Beth Terry
13 years ago

Radical Garbageman! I actually already thought of that. But I’m planning to try and promote this post in places where more “green” men might frequent and see if they’ll come by and comment. It might be a silly thing. But I just really want to know, out of pure curiosity. And also, to know if the guys who do read this blog are feeling that there are issues I might not be covering for them.

Also, now that you mention it, I wonder if there is a gender disparity between people who use readers and people who come to the blog directly.

13 years ago

As a male, regular reader of your blog I find the need to comment is not in me on 99.99 per cent of your posts. the logic is there and the info is verifiable so why comment. Most males i know could care less about the environment and plastic in general, sad but true. If more did the environment would be better and some of the idiots we have in control wouldn’t be there. So keep writing and maybe some ray of knowledge will strike the male population and cause some change.

Radical Garbageman
13 years ago


There seems to be a key methodological problem with asking men who read your blog to report why men don’t read your blog. I don’t know why (other) men don’t read your blog. I “share” it on the google reader and I assume that those men are reading it on at least those occasions.

BTW — I’ve been reading via google reader for a year or so now. Does that still show up in the stats?

13 years ago

I am happy to find a fellow writer and blogger interested the same issues as I am passionate about…I am glad you came into my blog world…and I am glad to have found your blog!