The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Monthly Archives: July 2011

July 28, 2011

How I Fixed My Broken Rice Cooker: The Complete Illustrated Instructions

Another day, another broken gadget.  Plastic-free rule #1 when something breaks is to try and fix it instead of replacing it. But that’s not always easy since so many appliances are built to be tossed instead of repaired.   Well Easy Schmeasy.  Fixing things is fun.  Saves money.  Makes you feel like a Super Hero instead of a victim.   A few weeks ago, I got to don my cape again after Michael plugged in the rice cooker and nothing happened.  The light didn’t come on.  The element didn’t heat up.   The rice did not get cooked.  But the wheels in my brain started turning.

(And before any of you leave comments about how we don’t need a rice cooker and could easily cook rice on the stove and here are the instructions how to do it etc etc… yeah, I know.  But we have a rice cooker.  And we like it.  And this one broke, so this is how we fixed it.)

See, back in 2008, the same thing happened to my hair dryer, and my dad helped me out… Read the rest

July 20, 2011

How to Make Your Own Mint Julep Masque without Plastic or Toxic Chemicals

Queen Helene’s hugely popular mint julep masque is widely considered to be a safe product. I mean, it’s found in all the health food stores, so it must be okay, right? Or is it? And is there any actual mint in it?

I’ve had this same plastic tube of the stuff sitting in my bathroom cabinet for years and had pretty much forgotten about it until a few weeks ago when I noticed my face was getting dirty from all the work in the garden. (For those who don’t know, mud masks are used to suck out the oil and dirt clogging your pores and leave your face baby soft.) Following my resolution to use up the plastic-packaged stuff I already have before looking for alternatives, I dug out the Queen Helene and got ready to slather it on my face… until I read the ingredients.

Not only does this “natural” product come packaged in plastic, but it contains enough questionable ingredients to rate a 5 on Environmental Working Group’sRead the rest

July 17, 2011

Gardening Without Plastic, Part 3: Mulching and Watering

My plastic-free gardening project is coming right along. I’ve been eating chard for days! Some plants are doing well, and some are doing not so well. I have questions for you.  Please read through to the end of this post to see some of my plant problems and offer suggestions.  But first, here are my solutions for plastic-free mulching and watering.  (Catch up with Part 1 about soil and Part 2 about buying and planting seeds and plants here.)


Don’t laugh, but I honestly didn’t know what mulch was or what it was for before speaking with Eric. According to Organic Gardening:

Mulch prevents weeds from sprouting up in your garden, keeps soil moist and aerated, protects your plants from soilborne diseases, replenishes the soil as it decomposes, and keeps your yard and garden looking well tended. But which mulch is best for your needs?

Mulch can be grass clippings, leaves, pine needles, or other organic matter. Eric recommended… Read the rest

July 9, 2011

Gardening Without Plastic, Part 2: Planting and Replanting

A few weeks ago, I began my plastic-free gardening project in my tiny Oakland, CA yard with the help of and Eric Hurlock of Organic Gardening. I built a raised bed with sustainable wood and filled it with bulk gardening soil that I had delivered without any packaging. So far so good. But buying plants and watering them has proven to be a little more tricky, plastically speaking.

Planting Seeds

I bought Botanical Interests certified organic seeds, which come in paper envelopes and are readily available at garden centers where I live. I’ve got: Swiss chard, spinach, baby carrots, wax beans, cucumbers, marigolds, and nasturtium.

Ideally, I would have started some of  my seeds indoors, but I could not find a single sunny spot in my house that would not have been accessible to the Furry Ones Who Reign Supreme and their propensity for Total Destruction.

If I had been able to start seeds inside, I could have done it plastic-free. Browsing … Read the rest