The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Discussion Questions

October 26, 2011


Yesterday morning I turned in the manuscript for my book Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, which will be published by Skyhorse and come out early next year.

There were days I thought I wouldn’t finish, like in one of those dreams where the faster you walk, the faster the light seems to recede into the tunnel away from you.  Wait, is that a real dream or a movie dream?  Doesn’t matter.  It was like that.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, vastly harder than training for a marathon.  And it’s still not finished.  Now, my editor at the publishing company will read it and edit it, and I’m sure I’ll have more work to do.  But for now, I can breathe.

Thanks for your patience.  Thanks to those who kept the conversation going in the Discussion Forum or on Facebook or through the Show Your Plastic Challenge.  I’ll start regularly posting again next week.  Until then…… Read the rest

September 14, 2011

What is Your Favorite Plastic-free Tip?

I’m putting the finishing touches on the Plastic-free Book, due out this spring, and I’d love to include input from the plastic-free community, without which this site and book would not exist.  Would you like your voice to be included in the book?  If so, please share your one or two favorite plastic-free tips.  Tips could be plastic-free recipes, products, methods you’ve discovered.  Helpful web sites you consult.  Ideas for communicating with family or friends.  Ways you remember to bring your bags, bottles, utensils, etc. with you.  Things you tell yourself to stay motivated.  Ways to get kids involved.  Steps you’ve taken to make changes in your community, school, organization, work, etc.

Please keep your tips succinct and let us know how they have changed your life.

Include the name you’d like me to use (doesn’t have to be your full name) and your web site or blog if applicable.

I can’t… Read the rest

May 13, 2011

Is It Plastic?

My friend Ruchi is full of questions.  The following is a guest post from her with answers from me.

So many dilemmas

When the Artist Formerly Known as Fake Plastic Fish emailed around asking if people would be willing to contribute a guest post, I was … flummoxed. See, I really wanted to help out. I did. But I had a problem. Anything and everything I know about plastic, avoiding plastic, wasting less plastic, etc, comes from … none other than Beth Terry, plastic-avoider extraordinaire. I mean, I COULD write some post about giving up zip-locs or not wasting plastic produce bags, or some such. But I’ve DONE that. The Artist Formerly Known as Fake Plastic Fish has DONE that. A gazillion times.

I have a lot of plastic problems. Now that I compost, it’s crystal clear just how much plastic I use (because that’s the majority of my trash.) And while it may not be as much as the average American (at least I hope it isn’t), it’s… Read the rest

March 25, 2011

I’m An Environmentalist and I’m Not Having Kids

It would be easy for me to feel self-righteous about my decision not to breed. According to many thinkers, population is the number one factor driving such problems as global climate change, pollution, and hunger. And children born and raised in affluent nations have a significantly higher impact on the planet than those born to more modest means. As one of my blogger friends put it, population “relates to everything — including the amount of plastic crap circulating in the ocean.”

So it would have been mighty selfless of me to deny my maternal instinct for the sake of the planet, right? But honestly, my decision not to have children had nothing to do with environmental concerns. I looked at my life, my goals, my physical and emotional resources, and despite my love for cute little babies, I realized there were other things I wanted to do with my life and that bringing a child into the world was not for me.

Of course, we’re all … Read the rest

February 21, 2011

How To Request No Plastic and Get What You Ask For

Let’s make a list…

A common rant throughout the Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge is frustration over how to get restaurant servers or store clerks or delivery people to hear our requests for no plastic straw or cup or utensils or containers or bags or whatever and to actually honor our wishes.  Several people are irritated to receive plastic packaging or utensils even after they clearly request not to have them.

Challenge participants have left ideas and suggestions for each other in the comments.  Here are just a few.  Let’s try to come up with more.

Marissa: Show a picture. I ask servers “Do you know how much plastic you use in a week?” Then I follow it up with, “I do and it doesn’t make me happy to know I’m contributing to this…” Then I pull out a cut out picture I found in a magazine of a sea bird with nothing but plastic in his belly!  Yes, this may seem extreme but it’s worked many times.… Read the rest

December 20, 2010

Did you miss TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch? Watch it all now!

Finally!  The videos from the TEDx conference in L.A. last month have been posted.   Here is my talk on living la vida sin plástico, as well as links to/descriptions of all the speakers and performers that day.  Learn how plastic affects people across the globe, animals on land and sea, and what individuals, businesses, and communities can do about the problem.

Topic 1: Plastic Pollution and Ocean Health

Captain Charles Moore: Ten Years Later, the Gyre is All Around Us

Dianna Cohen (filmed at TED Mission Blue Voyage):  Tough Truths About Plastic Pollution

Fabien Cousteau: Ocean Animals and Plastic Pollution

Ben Lear: song performance

Topic 2: Plastic Pollution and Terrestrial Animals

Bharati Chaturvedi: Not Just the Ocean — A Report from India (pre-recorded video not posted yet)

David Wernery: In The Desert – A Report from the United Arab Emirates (pre-recorded video not posted yet, but read the article about camels eating plastic… Read the rest

December 1, 2010

Letter from Will Terry, a “normal guy and not some tree-hugging freak”

Last Friday night, my brother Will and I were hanging out on the phone discussing our book-writing aspirations: his dream of writing children’s books (He’s already a fantastic illustrator of books that other people write.  See the end of this post for an amazing demo) and mine of creating a plastic-free book to inspire or at least entertain the masses.

Will’s not a treehugger, but unable to avoid my plastic-free influence, he wants to help me figure out the best way to speak to a wider audience of people — people like him who care, but maybe not yet enough to act.  So he wrote the following letter to you guys.  Overlooking spelling, punctuation, and the fact that he was most likely drunk on half-cooked brownie mix when he composed it, what do you suggest?

Dear Fake Plastic Fish readers:

I was thinking about plastic the other day partly because I had run out of things to think about but also because my big (big as in older not heavier,… Read the rest

July 15, 2010

Why are body washes in plastic bottles more popular than bar soap?

While I love my boyfriend Isaiah Mustafa’s hot and funny Old Spice commercial, I do not love the product he is selling: Old Spice Scented Body Wash.

But according to a recent NPR story on men switching to bath gels, more and more men seem to think that body wash gels work better than bar soap. As a woman, I find bar soap to work fine, if not better than bodywash. So why the sudden unfortunate switch among men?

Why unfortunate? Because first of all, the ingredients suck:


The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database gives the product a score of 5: Moderate Hazard.

And second, of course, is the plastic bottle. The NPR story ends with a brief mention of the environmental impact:

Mr. John … Read the rest