The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Challenges

January 13, 2016

Why Buy It New When I Can Make It Myself?

There are a lot of things I make myself to avoid products in plastic packaging.  I make my own chocolate syrup, for example, to avoid the kind in the squeeze bottle.  And I’ve made my own cleaning and personal care products for years.  But when it comes to durable goods, I’ve often opted to let someone else make it, relying on the handiwork of artisans on Etsy, for example.  And while it’s great to support small business owners, my Buy Nothing New challenge is not going to allow that, which is cool because all of a sudden, I’ve rediscovered the joy of knitting and the feeling of pride that comes from making things with my own two hands again.

My First Scarf in Years

I used to knit all the time.  In fact, I went through a period of compulsively knitting things for every person I knew.  Why then, did I find myself on Etsy, this past November, searching for the perfect handmade scarf?  I don’t know, but luckily,… Read the rest

January 11, 2016

Buying Nothing New in 2016

I’m not going to buy anything new this year.  Except food.  And soap.  And toilet paper.  Recycled toilet paper.  Okay, let me start over.  I’m not going to buy any new, non-consumable things.  Except I already have.  Yesterday.  So, what’s all this about?

After spending the last eight years of my life avoiding new plastic (plastic products and plastic packaging), I suddenly found myself in 2015 obsessed with not only avoiding new plastic but also replacing the minute amount of existing plastic in my house with brand new, mostly expensive, plastic-free products, which is exactly what I had decided NOT to do when I started this project.  Off the top of my head, these are some things I replaced this year:

Plastic drain board replaced with this heavy, Amish-made stainless steel drain board. Garlic press with plastic-coated grips replaced with an all stainless Rosle garlic press. Vegetable… Read the rest
July 8, 2015

#PlasticfreeJuly Book Review: That’s a Wrap eGuide

Since writing my book Plastic-Free, I’ve had multiple requests for a condensed version with just the basics for getting started. My answer is usually, “Great idea. How about you write it?” Because seriously, we need as many plastic-free voices in the media as possible. And to be honest, I get tired of hearing my own voice.  Well, now someone else gone and written the shorter guide that people have been clamoring for.

What’s Included

In her new, brightly illustrated digital ebook That’s a Wrap, Australian blogger Lindsay Miles includes basic information about problems with plastic (as well as the drawbacks to recycling and plant-based plastics) and why you’d want to reduce your use of it.  (Scroll down for purchase link at bottom of page.)

After getting the problems out of the way in the first 25% of the book, Lindsay goes on to offer a wealth of plastic-free tips and solutions,… Read the rest

June 24, 2014

Join Me in Berkeley and Around the World For Plastic-Free July

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, now’s your chance to join with other like-minded folks IN PERSON to support one another and learn about local resources to reduce plastic use.  And if you’re not in the SF Bay Area, why not start your own local group (either online or in person) to celebrate Plastic-Free July?

While plastic reduction is important year-round, Plastic-Free July is a powerful time when people around the globe come together (in person or virtually) to make an extra effort to go plastic-free for a whole month and to spread the word that we can live without most disposable plastic.  Last year, I interviewed the founder of Plastic-Free July, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz of Earth Carers in Western Australia and participated in an International Plastic-Free Help Desk to give support and advice to those wanting to take the challenge.

This year, I decided it would be great to do something at home… in person.… Read the rest

July 4, 2013

Happy Plastic-Free July!

Today is Independence Day in the United States.  In Australia and growing numbers of countries around the world, the entire month is Plastic-Free July, so let’s celebrate our independence from single-use disposable plastics!

What you can do

Register to participate on the Plastic-Free July Web Site (I know, it’s already July 4.  So what?  Better late than never.) Try to eliminate disposable plastics during the entire month of July, and hold onto the things you couldn’t avoid in your “Dilemma Bag.”  You’ll be getting updates and tips during the month. Follow Plastic-Free July on Facebook. For more inspiration from other plastic-free activists, check out the On Air Google Hangout panel discussion, which we called The Plastic-Free July International Help Desk, including me, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz (Western Australia) of Western Earth Carers, Danielle Richardet (Wilmington, NC, USA) from… Read the rest
December 19, 2011

Michelle has refused over 10,000 plastic items! How many have you refused?

A few weeks ago, reader Kay Pere left the following comment on Facebook:

Beth: I’ve received your “Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge” update emails for a while now. I was hoping it would be encouraging to see so many other people working to reduce their plastic waste. Instead, it’s making me feel vaguely discouraged knowing that even after weeks and weeks of effort so many are still taking pictures PILES of wrappers, tubs, bottles, taps, bags, etc … How do you deal with this and keep your chin up? Just by knowing that it’s better than it would have been?

I agree that seeing how much plastic waste people still end up with while doing their best can be disheartening. But what the Show Your Plastic photos don’t show is how much plastic these guys have actually REFUSED while doing the challenge. One participant, Michelle Cassar from Portugal, sent me a list of all the plastic items she has refused in the past few… Read the rest

January 18, 2011

Is It Possible to Reduce Home Care Plastic Waste?

I’ve been with my family in Maryland since Thursday.  It was meant to be a happy trip to celebrate my and my mom’s birthdays, but in the last two weeks, my mom’s Alzheimer’s disease has progressed to the point that she can no longer even speak to us.  We can’t tell if she knows who we are anymore.  My heart is breaking, and all I know is that I want to be near her as much as I can this year.

Mostly my attitude this weekend’s been “screw the plastic.”  Not for myself.  I’m still refusing single use disposables for me.  But when it comes to all the plastic necessary to take care of my mom (disposable diapers, wipes, medicine bottles, pads, creams, gloves, etc), I just can’t go there.  It just doesn’t seem important in the scheme of things.

But then again, what if everyone with a sick loved one felt that way?  Mountains of plastic trash are generated in home care, and those mountains… Read the rest

December 28, 2010

Collect Your Plastic. Change Your Life.

Danielle Richardet is a Fake Plastic Fish reader and writer of the blog It Starts With Me, on which she chronicles her project cleaning up the beach near her home in North Carolina.  A couple of months ago, she and her family took the Fake Plastic Fish Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge, and took their weekly household plastic waste from this:

to this:

Doing the challenge, spreading out her plastic and really seeing it helped Danielle figure out what changes she needed to make in her life. I asked her to tell her story here. Of course, I’m hoping to inspire you to do it too. A 2011 Resolution? Here’s Danielle in her own words…

I made my first plastic-free change back in 2005 way before I knew anything about plastics. The first plastic product that I “gave up” was boxed cake mixes… and I certainly didn’t do it because it was in plastic. Nope… I stopped buying boxed cake mixes because I disagreed with all of… Read the rest
August 25, 2010

Say No To Singles

My vision of a plastic-free, zero-waste world is not a singles club.  No, I’m not discriminating against uncoupled people.  But I am a bigot when it comes to the three categories of Singles products, all of which have been featured on the new Facebook Plastic Crap Wall of Shame lately.  The first two, I’ve written about extensively, and the third might surprise you.

1) Single-use Disposables

Think plastic drink cups and cup lids, plastic food containers, plastic straws, plastic packing materials and blister packs and clamshells.  Or other ridiculous disposable items, like plastic bags for umbrellas (Can you say “mold?”)

Photo by Jennifer Lawlor.

or hefty bags for shoes.

These are items that are used once and thrown away, or recycled in rare cases.

Several zero-waste bloggers have campaigns to reduce our consumption of single-use disposables. Lisa Borden’s Take Out Without Campaign urges… Read the rest

June 4, 2010

First Graders Learning to Say No to Plastic Trash

Julia Smith’s first grade class at Rooftop Alternative School, perched high up in San Francisco’s Twin Peaks area, is different from most, and Julia Smith is a special kind of teacher.

For example, in an effort to teach the children how to choose plastic-free grocery options, she actually took them on a field trip to Whole Foods to learn how to bring their own bags and containers to shop from bulk bins.  After a lesson about the problems of ocean plastic pollution, the class participated in the Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge to collect and tally their classroom-generated plastic waste for a week.

Check the Challenge site to see the full results from their week of plastic collecting and read more about what they learned. Last week, I visited the classroom to pick up the plastic they had collected and chat with the kids about the plastic I had found on the beach and find out what they had decided to do about their classroom waste.

Several … Read the rest