The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: June 2010

June 29, 2010

Too Many Choices: Unhappy for Us and the Planet

Will seventy-five choices of shampoo make us happier or simply less satisfied with the product we do choose and more likely to junk up the planet as we sample the offerings? Take a look at the following photo and consider its ramifications.

How do we end up with shelf after shelf of individual sample sized shampoos and lotions and deodorants and toothpastes and shave gels and conditioners and sunscreens, all in their little plastic bottles and tubes? Is it about having too much choice? Or is it really the illusion of choice?

The Spaghetti Sauce Talk

In his famous spaghetti sauce TED talk, Malcolm Gladwell extolls the achievement of Howard Moskowitz who helped Prego, the spaghetti sauce company, realize that there was not just one perfect spaghetti sauce type to aspire to but that consumers wanted to be able to choose what kind of sauce they felt like eating. Basically smooth vs. chunky. Now, thanks to his work, you can go to the grocery store and choose… Read the rest

June 27, 2010

I’m looking for a cheese subsitute that isn’t just processed fake cheese in plastic wrap and doesn’t suck.

I’m toying with the idea of veganism — toying with it as a cat toys with an injured mouse before finally killing it — but I constantly run up against the cheese issue. I love cheese. Cheese is the king of my world, and all other foods exist in service to it. Veggies, pasta, bread, nuts, crackers, and even leftover Chinese food are mere vehicles for that sublime substance.

Going plastic-free was hard at first because I couldn’t find good cheese not wrapped in plastic. Finally, I ended up purchasing an entire 12-pound wheel of Perenzin San Pietro hard cheese (much like parmesan only better) coated in beeswax without any plastic. I bought it almost a year ago, and I still haven’t eaten it all because, like parmesan, a little sprinkling goes a long way. But also, it’s lasted this long because it’s so hard to cut into and grate that I don’t just wolf it down like I might cheddar… I didn’t, that is,… Read the rest

June 25, 2010

Why We Can’t Clean Up the Pacific Gyre

Over the next few years you are going to hear a lot of claims about programs to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The floating island of plastic garbage twice the size of Texas. The trash patch. The area Captain Charles Moore discovered ten years ago. Don’t be fooled!

The Pacific Garbage Patch is not an island.

First of all, it’s a misnomer to call it an island. “Island” implies something floating on top of the water; big pieces of trash you could scoop up and recycle. Unfortunately, it’s worse. The plastic in the ocean breaks down over time into smaller and smaller pieces. While it doesn’t biodegrade, it “photodegrades,” meaning the sun breaks it down but it never really goes away. These tiny pieces have been found throughout the water column and are all mixed in with the plankton, the bottom of the food chain, a crucial component of life on earth. How can we clean that up?

There are several ocean

Read the rest
June 23, 2010

Should We Worry About Little Plastic Produce Stickers?

In the comments on my post about toxic food packaging labels, the subject of fruit and vegetable labels came up, those little plastic stickers affixed to almost all grocery store produce these days so cashiers don’t have to memorize the codes.

Back in the day when I was a kid, produce didn’t come with stickers.  There were codes ink-stamped on some of the citrus, as I recall, but nothing like the plastic stickers we have today that are especially annoying when attached to soft-skinned fruit like ripe pears and peaches.  Don’t you hate when the skin rips off with the sticker?

But what about the adhesive and the tiny bit of plastic the sticker represents? Is it something that should keep us awake at night?  My feeling is that no, it should not, and before you crucify me, please let me explain why.

Stickers Differentiate Organic from Non-organic

Devised by the International Federation for Produce Standards, the PLU (Price Look-Up) … Read the rest

June 21, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Plastic-Free Blogger

Ever wonder what it would be like to be Beth Terry for a day? Or any one of a number of other green bloggers? Well, now’s your opportunity to find out because a bunch of us have all decided to write about one day in our lives. Could be fascinating. Could be as tedious as watching pants dry on a wooden drying rack. My contribution is a rundown of last Thursday, which I chose because Thursdays are typical work days, and I knew I’d have 8 hours at my accounting job wherein I would not have to detail every action.

Feeding Kitties

I wake up at 9am with Soots standing on my chest, staring at me expectantly. It’s funny. I wait as long as I can, until he starts batting my face and nibbling my chin, to get up. This is our daily ritual. Soots and Arya expect to be fed as soon as I get out of bed. Any deviation is a betrayal. Unfortunately, they find themselves betrayed almost every morning as I putter around, putting my tea kettle on or maybe checking to see if any… Read the rest

June 17, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill: We Said the Night Was Full of Zombies

As an anti-plastics blogger, I should be able to write about the gulf oil spill in my sleep.  The connections seem obvious.  Plastic comes from oil.  Our demand for plastic drives up the demand for oil, as do our demands for all the other products made from oil.  I should be able to write about this topic as I would write about anything else related to plastic, things like  Bisphenol-A, bottled water, PVC, phthalates, ocean plastic pollution, and yet until now, I couldn’t.

Like the vastness of the ocean itself and the incredible magnitude of the spill, the topic was just too big to wrap my heart around.  It hurt too much.  Somehow the thought of oil gushing relentlessly up from the earth into the ocean felt even more nightmarish to me than that of plastic pollution washed by the tons into the same oceans.  What’s more, with all the commentary about whose fault it is, what methods should be used for clean up, and how the guilty parties should be … Read the rest

June 16, 2010

In Hell, they drink Le Froglet wine in individual plastic wine glasses

This morning, my friend Jenn sent me an article from the U.K.’s Daily Mail about an exciting new concept in wine: single serving portions in disposable plastic glasses.

It sounds like something from The Onion or Saturday Night Live, but sadly it’s not. Le Froglet’s wine in individual glasses is flying off the shelves at Britain’s Marks & Spencer, which apparently has a whole store section called Food on the Move packed with all kinds of single-serving goodies.

Well, the insanity of producing yet one more single-use disposable product in a time when we are constantly reminded of the dire nature of our environmental situation got me thinking about the one thing EVERYONE could do right now to reduce their consumption, plastic and otherwise:


Stop buying single servings of everything. Stop right now. There is no reason that I can think of for anyone to do it. (Okay, I’m sure there… Read the rest

June 14, 2010

Homemade “Power Bars” and “Wheat Thins” Without Plastic

You guys, I made Wheat Thins and fake Lara Bars this weekend! I actually baked without making a huge disaster. Not even a small disaster. And I cleaned up the kitchen too.

When I decided to live plastic-free, I had to give up energy bars, crackers, and most processed snack foods. Other plastic-free bloggers have found themselves with the same dilemma: how to munch without the plastic, as well as the additives that come in those crunchy snacks.

Well, my blogger friend Katie from Kitchen Stewardship has published a whole e-Book called Healthy Snacks to Go. (If you purchase via links on this site, My Plastic-Free Life earns a small commission!) Katie sent me a copy to review, and what I love about this book is that most of the snack ideas can be made plastic-free.

Katie’s recipes are very, very easy to understand even for someone like me who is phobic about baking after an early pita bread fiasco left me covered in flour with nothing to show for my efforts… Read the rest

June 12, 2010

Homemade Chocolate Soda

It’s 90°F here in Oakland. The kitties are lolling around and so are we. Time to break out the soda maker and have ourselves a little treat. And by “ourselves,” I mean me.   Kitties don’t get to have chocolate (tough life) and Michael wasn’t particularly interested.  Freak.


1) Carbonated water (via Soda Club soda maker) 2) Homemade chocolate syrup (recipe posted on My Plastic-free Life) 3) Ice (from stainless steel ice cube tray) 4) Glass drinking straw (via Glass Dharma)

Mix it all up and suck. Awesome, vegan, and plastic-free.… Read the rest

June 11, 2010

Toxic Food Packaging Labels

This post is about toxic adhesives used to apply labels to food packaging and whether or not those chemicals can migrate into our foods. But it’s also a convoluted story about the foul odor emanating from the general direction of my dishwasher.

Stinky Dishwasher Smell

If you’re my Facebook friend, you may be waiting impatiently to hear the conclusion to the following status update:

Our kitchen smells like dead animal ass. Literally. We’ve searched for weeks to find the source of the smell. Today, I’m pretty sure it’s the Seventh Generation dishwasher powder we switched to. Is that possible? The dishwasher’s running now, and the smell is definitely coming from there. I stuck my nose in the [detergent] box, a…n…d it’s not good. Anyone else noticed this or am I crazy?

Yes, this is the type of tasteful, articulate status update you can except from me if you choose to be my Facebook friend. And… Read the rest