The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

April 22, 2013

Take the Quiz and Make a Pledge

2013-04-20-Earth-Day-SF-wigHappy Earth Day everyone.  It’s been a busy weekend, what with the plastic sea monster out and about.  I spent several evenings at home braiding plastic bags into a new doo.  What do you think?  At San Francisco’s Earth Day Festival on 4/20 (probably around 4:20pm), a somewhat wobbly-looking guy with an equally impressive head of hair stared at me for several minutes, then held out a funny kind of cigarette and said very earnestly, “YOU can smoke this.”  Really?  Is that how I come across these days?  I said no thank you and continued on my mission.

That mission?  To spread the message that we can refuse disposable plastic! And that there are lots of great alternatives.


Take the Quiz

I also wanted to disabuse people of some common fallacies about plastic.  So I asked people to take the Plastic-Free Quiz & Pledge for a chance to win a copy of Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.  The contest is over, but you can still take the quiz for fun.

1)       True or False: Most of the plastic in the ocean comes from ships at sea.


2)       True or False: A number in the arrows at the bottom of a container means the container is recyclable.

Answer: /2007/09/wait-are-you-sure-thats-recyclable/

3)       True or False: Plastic labeled “BPA-Free” is always safe to eat or drink from.

Answer:  /2011/04/bpa-free-does-not-mean-safe-most-plastics-leach-hormone-disrupting-chemicals/

4)       True or False: Airports will not let you bring your own water bottle on a plane.


5)       What one change will you make this week to use less plastic?

I can’t give you the answer to number 5, but I can help.   How about choosing a alternative from the Plastic-Free Guide?  Or collecting your plastic for a week and taking the Show Your Plastic Challenge?  How about writing a letter to a company?   And while you’re at it, how about signing the petition to urge Trader Joe’s to reduce plastic produce packaging?  There’s a lot to be done this week.  Get to it!


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9 years ago

Hi! I just wanted to say I found your book while looking for Garbageland at my local library, and have really had my eyes opened! I’ve been recycling for years, thinking that I was doing a good thing, not realizing I needed to consume (no pun intended!) less plastic, and that there were sooooo many ways to reduce the plastic I buy. I’ve made copious lists and notes about websites you listed in your book and plan on passing on all the info I can to my friends and family! I’ve already made your recipe for almond milk, plan on using all of your condiment recipes, and am now checking into finding ingredients for your cosmetics recipes. I would also like to thank you for including in your book all of the resources for renting/borrowing tools and outdoor gear! I’m wondering if anyone has ideas for eco-friendly footwear.

I thought you might be amused to know that my local library wrapped your book in a cellophane cover…I know why they did, but thought maybe they would’ve /could’ve thought to go along with the no plastic theme and maybe photocopied your cover and used that as a protective wrap. Or something. :)

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
9 years ago
Reply to  Denised

Denised So glad you’re finding plastic alternatives that you can incorporate into your daily life from Beth’s book. I’ve also seen Plastic Free, covered in cellophane at my local library. I love your idea of having libraries wrap the book using a paper photocopy of the book cover. I think you’re on to something…

Beth Terry
9 years ago

Hi all. I have chosen a random winner for the book and am waiting for them to get back to me. Thanks for participating!

9 years ago

3. False
4. False
5. I am a big coffee drinker and use those paper to go cups with the lid and occasionally the little plastic stopper for the lid. An immediate change I can make is to either drink my coffee “for here” at the coffee shop or bring my own reusable cup for carry out.

9 years ago

1-4 False. #5 We have been reusing the same couple plastic bread bags to store and freeze homemade bread. Well, I pledge to find an alternative to storing bread in plastic.

9 years ago

Hey Beth,
My girlfriend and I love your book. We read it to each other at night time. Just letting you know!

9 years ago

1-4 are false. #5 I am new to the whole plastic free lifestyle, but I am committed to live as plastically free as possible and to encourage my friends and family to do the same. I do not want to continue the single use throw away culture and will do what I can to eliminate my home and life of plastics.

9 years ago

1-4 false
5-1 I will switch from conventional tp to recycled tp, wrapped in paper. 5-2. I will make sure to bring a reusable mug to the opening of the Farmers’ Market this week. 5-3. I will make an concentrated effort to ask customers if they ‘need’ a bag for their purchase. That way I can gently suggest that they don’t take a bag (I’m a vendor). I don’t buy bags for the market, my extended family saves them and I re-use them. 5-4 I will think about making a display for the market about how plastic sucks and what folks can do to avoid it. Maybe an educational coloring page for the kids?
If I were to win, I would read it, then pass it on to my local library.

Beth Terry
9 years ago
Reply to  chicknlil

Hi. You are the random winner of the book! But you are signed in as a guest, so I don’t have your email address to contact you. Please email me at beth [at] myplasticfreelife [dot] com with your contact info. Congratulations!

Marina Garland
9 years ago

1-4 are absolutely false! For 5 – I live on a tiny island, and each year all of the islanders get together for one annual meeting. This year I will give an info session about cutting down on single-use disposable plastics and show how simple it has been to remove almost all plastics from my own every day life.

And if I win the book (I’ve already read it and adored it!), I would donate it to the local library so that its wealth of information could reach more people.

9 years ago

1 – false 2 – false 3 – false 4 – false
5 – Not buy anything that comes in plastic!

9 years ago

#1 – False!
#2 – False!
#3 – False!
#4 – False
#5 – For anything I buy or use that comes with plastic, i will write to the company and tell them my preferences. I’ve been avoiding plastic for a couple months now, so the easy stuff is eliminated. Now for the hard stuff.

9 years ago

1 & 4 are false and
for # 5, my county has put a plastic ban at all stores so it is much easier to remember to bring my own. i made produce bags from old tshirts (small – from my grandson) so i have plenty of those. i use mason jars to store leftovers and am slowly getting rid of the plastic containers over time.

Annie Wong
9 years ago

Questions 1-4 are false
For Question 5, I intend to find ways to reduce my plastic use.

9 years ago

(I commented but my computer stopped responding. Apologies if this is posting again, but I don’t see my comment below…)
Qs 1-4 are all false!
I am working on remembering to refuse a straw when I go out to eat. If they bring it separately, it’s easy, but when it’s already in the glass… I need to remember to ask when I order a drink!

Heather N
9 years ago

5. This week I’m cleaning out the pantry, using up what’s in there. I’m also in search of bulk retailers.

9 years ago

1-4 are false. 5. I am just starting on this journey of reducing plastic, so I am still doing things like using reusable containers to pack sandwiches for lunch instead of ziploc bags and using reusable bags at the grocery store. This week I am working to reduce the amount of plastic I use from cosmetics/toiletries, switching to bar soap & shampoo etc.

9 years ago

1. F 2. F 3. F 4. F 5. Start purchasing from bulk bins and not use plastic baggies for the purchase – will bring my own glass bottles!

9 years ago

1) F
2) F
3) F
4) F
5) What one change will you make this week to use less plastic?
I have already made a lot of changes but there are a lot more I can certainly do. Plastic is such a huge part of our lives that removing all of it takes a lot of steps. The one thing I can implement this week? I have been such a sucker for fresh brewed tea from a local gas station. It’s amazing, and I’ve been using a refillable plastic cup to get it. This week I’ll repurose the cup for something else and use an old canning jar instead. Bonus: the canning jar will hold more tea and cost the same to refill!

9 years ago

(Yep, 1 through 4 are false.)

#5 – I’ve been working on kicking the plastic habit for some time now (and haven’t missed any of it), and coming up with something new is a little difficult. I’ve decided to do a fearless analysis of the way I live and the products I use and make an inventory of all the plastic still lurking about. Then it’s time to start seriously looking for better alternatives and openly acknowledge the plastic that I just can’t or won’t give up.

(I’m certain I’ll find things I hadn’t even thought about before.)

9 years ago

Hey Beth! I finally got my bread from whole foods by using a cloth bread bag. I have to go as soon as they open so they haven’t already had the time to package up the daily bread which does have a center plastic “window”. It’s annoying having to go at 7am to get my bread, and I doubt they will ever fix their bread display properly so we can pick out bread and put it in our own bags at any time we want (Go WF!) but I actually had someone behind the counter call me a smart shopper for bringing in my own bag, so there’s that.
Next up: I’m going to buy a stainless steel ice cube tray, among a few other awesome non-plastic things from Life without plastic (my first order with LWP!) so I can start making our own vegan yoghurt and stop buying one more plastic cup and lid. I actually stopped buying them awhile ago, but my boyfriend still insists on buying them. Yay!

9 years ago

1-4 are false
to reduce plastic i will carry my lunch to work with me in a pyrex container along with a reusable titanium spork.

9 years ago

All false. This week I am going to make more cloth bags for groceries,
for myself and extended family. And I plan to start speaking up when
something doesn’t make sense, such as when a booth at earth day gave me a
recycled paper notebook that was wrapped in plastic. There was no
reason for such a book to be wrapped in plastic. I need to start telling
people that it doesn’t make sense.

9 years ago

All false. This week I am going to make more cloth bags for groceries, for myself and extended family. And I plan to start speaking up when something doesn’t make sense, such as when a booth at earth day gave me a recycled paper notebook that was wrapped in plastic. There was no reason for such a book to be wrapped in plastic. I need to start telling people that it doesn’t make sense.

9 years ago

All false! I feel a little on the spot on that last question, but I think one thing I’ve been dealing with lately is plastic given to my children. I am pledging to say no thank you to the junky toys and wrapped candies from seemingly everyone (today it was the dentist!) we encounter.

Amanda A
9 years ago

All are false! I just signed the petition, and I pledge to not use plastic produce bags anymore. I’ll bring my own hand-knit produce bags or do without (a bunch of bananas doesn’t really need a bag in my opinion).

Theresa P
9 years ago

1-4 are all false. I teach graduate social work students and am proposing we host a booth at next year’s Earth Day Fair in our city. It would be fun and inspiring to have the entire booth focused on plastic-free living aiming for zero waste. To have your book at the booth for people to look through (with a sign indicating they could purchase an e-version) would be awesome. I do hope I’m chosen to receive the book as the campaign for my local library to purchase it has failed.

9 years ago

All are false. I plan to not buy my son anymore disposable plastic bottles of water. He is very hip to the idea.

9 years ago

All false. To reduce plastic in my life one of the things I’m doing right now is raising goats and producing our own milk. I’ve had them for a year but they are kidding this month for the first time. : )

9 years ago

All False, I am going to write to my council and ask them to start hard plastic recycling they have it in Suffolk so why not in Essex

9 years ago

All false. I am only going to buy books that are ebooks, also just being more aware of what I take for granted and making one change a week (I stopped buying paper plates now am going to stop buying paper towels). Thanks for all you do to bring awareness!!

Stephi Sky
9 years ago

All false.
I am going to write to my council and ask them to offer extra recycling for plastic pots which can’t currently get collected by them. I have found out that local supermarkets’ plastic bag recycling banks can take these other plastic items, but they don’t advertise it, I’m assuming because they don’t want to be overrun with stuff, but this seems ridiculous to me, and I don’t see why our council couldn’t take this on. Other councils (in the UK) do collect it so I want to try and get them to do it here too! Steph, Brighton, UK.

9 years ago

Yup, all false.
In terms of what I’m going to change… I know you’re probably talking about personal lifestyle changes, but instead I decided to write to my city councilman asking him to support a proposed five cent fee on all disposable grocery bags here in Denver. If I can influence that legislation even in a small way, it will do much more than any personal changes I might be able to make. And, I might make some repairs to a few of my reusable grocery bags too!

9 years ago

All false.
My pledge is to remember to take a reusable container *every* time I go shopping so I don’t have to deal with plastic/cling film from cheese etc. I’m good at remembering cloth bags and fruit andd veg bags, it’s the tubs I forget.

Interesting to read your reply re:sea plastic. When trying to explain about the problems with plastic to friends and family, plastic sea pollution is the thing everyone is horrified by, but it’s also the easiest thing to distance yourself from. “I don’t throw litter in the sea so it’s someone else’s problem.” (I live about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK) .

9 years ago

1.-4. = False
5. I’m going to start taking glass jars to the store for use when buying from the bulk bins. I had wanted a way around those little bags that get used for just an hour or less, and usually leak anyway. Fabric reuseables make the employees unhappy since you can’t easily see what’s in them. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of bringing glass jars!

MD Kennedy
9 years ago

All the answers are FALSE! I will start bringing my empty Dr. Bronners bottles to a store I found near me (Grassroots – have to give them a plug!) that refills – and I won’t have to buy new bottles! buddyanasta (at) gmail (dot) com

9 years ago

1. False
2. False… it indicates the type of plastic and the recycling of each numbered plastic is dependent on the recycle facility and what they accept/allow.
3. False! There are so many chemicals in plastics !
4. False! I bring my Klean Kanteen every time I board the plane… and they even refill it for me on the plane (although I try avoiding that as their water is all bottled on the plane). (I also bring my own coffee kanteen.)
5. This week I’m going on a road trip to hike in So Utah. To reduce plastic, I made my own granola bars and bagged them in waxed paper. It drives me nuts that granola bars at the store are all individually wrapped in plastic wrappers. Also, my home made granola bars are way better without all the added sugar. ;)

9 years ago

1) false
2) false
3) false
4) false
5) Start making my own bread with bulk bin flour and remembering to remind my husband to take reusable bags with him to the store

9 years ago

All are False. #5 – I just found out this week that I can bring my container of Charlie’s laundry detergent into a nearby store and get it refilled – yay! As a bonus, it’s $4 cheaper than buying another plastic container of detergent – double yay! :)

9 years ago

False to it all!
This week I brought all of my own cloth grocery and produce bags with me while I shopped. I’m bringing zero-waste lunches to work. I bought plastic-free gifts for someone’s birthday. I’m going to write a letter to my favourite grocery store to see if they’ll consider selling their lettuce without the plastic bags.

9 years ago

Just found this blog and am already hooked.
The answer is false to all questions.
Thank you for doing this.

9 years ago

Thanks for enlightening me about the water bottle on the plane. I recently flew and assumed I couldn’t bring a bottle (empty or filled) on board. I had to buy a Poland Spring bottled water before boarding, but from now on I know I can bring an empty container with me and fill in after going thru security! (That’s my answer to #5). BTW, my husband and I were on a cruise and I was happy to see very little waste on the ship–NO disposable dishes, cups, napkins, etc. There was liquid body soap and shampoo in metal containers in the bathrooms.

9 years ago

All are FALSE – D! We’re bringing our own cotton bags for buying produce at the market. We’re also bring our own bags and containers for use in the bulk foods section in our store.

9 years ago

I got them all right! :D I’m always looking for more things to do to reduce my plastic. This week I’m looking for alternatives to use for my summer job, a schoolage daycare. I like to have the kids eat snack on reusable dishes and wash them, but I need to find cheap dishes that are unlikely to break when the kids drop them (which they will). I also need containers to sort toys into, and some new games and activities etc. So many kids things are made out of plastic. I wish my budget was big enough to buy all natural materials, but as it is I might need to get a little creative.

9 years ago

All are false! This month I am carrying reusable bags and bringing home zero plastic shopping bags!!

Connie Curtis
9 years ago

1) F, 2)F, 3), 4)F, 5) buy food in less packaging and just buying things I only need. Would love your book. I have cut down my husbands and I plastic down quite a bit but I know there are things I could do that I just havent thought of or dont know how. Your book would be amazing to have. Love your blog.

Allison Dey
9 years ago

All false. When I moved I had to start over completely. Wooden hangers & glass storage jars came from thrift stores. I made unpaper towels, dish sponges, grocery bags and all kinds of reusable things out of cotton and linen materials from thrift stores also. When people say it’s impossible to avoid plastic I play a game with them. I tell them their house has just burned down and insurance is going to replace everything. Then we list everything they need and want and I tell them the non-plastic option for each thing. The list ends up being at least 90% plastic-free. One of my few plastic habits is my toothbrush. So it’s time to find a wooden one!

Travis King
9 years ago

1. False
2. False
3. False
4. False
5. I will start using reusable shopping bags!

Pam West
9 years ago

1. False
2. False
3. False
4. False
5. I have just started using my own cloth produce bags, and will use them despite the dirty looks I have recieved from some store employees when they see my bags coming.

9 years ago

1. False
2. False
3. False
4. False
5. I will use my own bags for produce and bulk foods!

9 years ago

Questions 1-4 were false (I already have the book-ebook, I wanted to try the quiz to see if I learned anything yet-LOL). I’m trying to do better but this is hard. You (meaning myself) don’t realize how much new stuff has plastic in it (seems like EVERYTHING!!!!) I watched YERT and they had a corn challenge as they were traveling, one person couldn’t eat any food products with corn in them for a week and she ate a yogurt (they also were using your suggestion to ask if they could have carry out put in their own containers to reduce their litter), thinking no corn there right? The emulsifier is a corn product, man. I’m thinking who puts corn in yogurt?

9 years ago

I did pretty good on the test! I have been following a Druid path that has helped me to make life changes (as part of the First Year you make three changes). Thanks for the blog posts!