The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Issues

January 31, 2018

How To Move Long Distance Without Plastic

plastic-free moving
Most moving companies wrap everything in plastic stretch wrap.

When I left my home in California last month to care for my dad in Maryland, I struggled to figure out how to do it plastic-free.   Moving across the country can involve a lot of disposable plastic if you’re not careful:  plastic bubble wrap inside your boxes, plastic tape to close the boxes, and plastic stretch wrap around everything. Apparently, stretch wrap is now a moving company’s best friend.  In fact, I had the following phone conversation with one of the many moving company reps I spoke to:

Me:  I don’t want my items covered in plastic wrap.  Can you just use reusable moving blankets? Rep:  We do use blankets.  But we have to use plastic wrap over the blankets to protect your furniture.  No reputable company would move your possessions without plastic wrap. Me: How did they do it in the old days? Rep: If they were a good company, they used plastic wrap.… Read the rest

December 12, 2017

The Unstoppable Kids of Heirs to Our Oceans

13-year-old Cambria Bartlett contacted me last year to do a phone interview about living plastic-free.   She and a group of other homeschoolers, calling themselves Heirs to Our Oceans, were creating a video about caring for our oceans, and Cambria’s personal focus was on plastic.

Since then, I’ve met Cambria in person and learned what exceptional kids she and her friends are: committed, passionate, and dedicated to preserving the planet for future generations.  I asked her to write a guest post to describe what they are doing and how you can help.  Please read and enjoy!

Beth Terry is such an inspiration! In being aware of the changes she made to better our planet, I have come to care too and have made changes in my own behavior. Seeing Beth live her life with only one bag of plastic waste in a year made me realize that making change is possible. She is such a great role model! Beth’s blog and book have helped me so much in the last year.… Read the rest

July 24, 2017

Review – Guppy Friend microfiber catching laundry bag

In March, I wrote about microfiber laundry pollution from synthetic clothing and mentioned that soon there would be a special bag available called Guppy Friend to catch those microfibers before they are rinsed down the drain. Well, the bag is now available and the company sent me one to test out.

Guppy Friend is a product developed by the campaign STOP! MICRO WASTE, a German non-profit founded by a group of surfers and nature lovers to find solutions to the microfiber pollution problem.  Guppy Friend is just one of their projects, as they recognize that it is only one small part of the solution to a huge problem that will require systemic change on a massive scale, not just a few people conscientiously washing their polyester fleece in a special bag.  But for those of you conscientious folk out there who do wear synthetic clothing and want to prevent the fibers from escaping into our waterways, here is one small solution.

Guppy Friend is a synthetic… Read the rest

July 14, 2017

Hormone Disruptors in Boxed Mac & Cheese and Other Processed Cheeses

Are there phthalates in these cheese powders? There could be.

Since going plastic-free, I generally avoid processed, packaged foods.  So I haven’t enjoyed the Day-Glo orange of Kraft Mac & Cheese in years.  (Yeah, I used to live on that stuff in the 80’s and 90’s, with extra cheese added because, despite the advertising claims, it really isn’t the “cheesiest.”)

But the other day, Michael brought home a box of organic quinoa mac & cheese that someone had left on the curb as a freebie, and I thought maybe I’d go ahead and have it, its being free and all.

And then yesterday, I read that a new study commissioned by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging has found phthalates — a type of hormone-disrupting chemical found in plastics — in 29 of 30 cheese products they tested.  Cheese powders from boxed mac & cheese had four times higher levels of phthalates… Read the rest

June 29, 2017

The Beach Doesn’t Care Whose Fault It Is

I’ve been away from blogging and social media for a few months, needing time to recuperate from the onslaught of attention-grabbing, anxiety-inducing posts that had hijacked my “news” feeds. Taking a break to be in silence for a while helps. So do walks along the red dirt trails or the rocky coastline of Moloka’i, Hawaii.

In the end of March, I went on my annual silent meditation retreat to the center of the center of the center. (The retreat center is in the middle of Moloka’i, which is the middle of the Hawaiian Island chain, which is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.) It just so happened that the week of my retreat was the same week as Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii’s first statewide beach cleanup event. And the cleanup event planned for the island of Moloka’i happened to be scheduled on our only day “off” from silent meditation. There’s more serendipity in how I even found out about… Read the rest

March 8, 2017

Is Your Laundry Polluting the Ocean with Microfibers?

A month ago, a reader named Ida left the following comment in the “100 Steps” section of this website:

For your Clothes section you never mention that the plastic clothes we have release high levels of plastic microfibers in every wash! This is pretty new knowledge, but hugely important as we cannot as of today find a way to remove from the sea. So when asked, I usually tell people to stop buying fleece, acrylic etc, but also to handwash what they have, which at least might lessen the problem… :)

I was as surprised as she was.  I thought for sure I’d blogged about microfiber pollution.  So I checked.  As it turns out, I addressed the topic in the updated edition of my book, but I never posted about it on this site.  Fortunately, the Story of Stuff Project has not been slacking like me.  They have just released a brand new video and campaign called The Story of Microfibers.  It explains what happens when we launder synthetic… Read the rest

February 26, 2017

Glee Chewing Gum Goes Plastic-Free!

I first wrote about plastic in chewing gum in January of 2010. At that time, there really was no brand of gum available that didn’t either contain plastic in the packaging or in the gum itself. And as I wrote back then, even Glee Gum, one of the most natural brands in town, was combining plastic with the natural chicle in its gum base.

Company owner Deborah Schimberg told me that she really wanted to get the plastic out of the gum base, but that it was difficult to find a natural substitute.  She hoped to find an alternative later that year.  Well, it’s taken longer than she expected, but finally, in 2015, Glee was able to offer plastic-free chewing gum in its original sugar-sweetened flavors and more recently in its sugar-free flavors as well.  The company sent me a few packs to try out, and while I’m not much of a gum chewer, Michael thinks it’s great!

Challenges of Developing a Plastic-Free Chewing Gum Base

I asked Deborah… Read the rest

October 31, 2016

Californians, Don’t Be Confused by Competing Plastic Bag Bans on Ballot!

11/30/16 Update:  Hurray!  Despite the disappointing national election results, California has some things to cheer about.  We passed Prop 67, the single use plastic bag ban!  Thanks to everyone who voted!

A few weeks ago, I did something completely out of my comfort zone.  I signed up and then showed up to phone bank with Clean Water Action in support of Prop 67, a statewide plastic bag ban on the upcoming November ballot, and against Prop 65, a competing measure that could completely undermine efforts to eliminate plastic bag pollution across the state.  I also dragged my friends Nancy and Corbina along with me since, you know, misery loves company and all that.

What is Prop 67?

In 2014, the California legislature passed SB270 (Padilla), a law which would ban single-use plastic carry out bags and require merchants to charge customers a 10 cent fee to purchase disposable paper bags. Shoppers could avoid paying the fee by bringing… Read the rest

October 31, 2016

If you care about clean air, please VOTE next week!

11/30/16 Update: Well, so we voted. Now what? Trump has vowed to dismantle environmental regulations. We can’t let that happen. More than ever before, it’s time to get active.

I have to admit, the current election cycle has me wanting to hide under my covers with a bottle of wine and a few choice edibles until the madness is over. It’s been weird and ugly, and I’m sure quite a few of us are exhausted and tempted to just stay home on November 8.

PLEASE DON’T DO THAT.

November 8 is not only about electing our next president, which is important in itself, but also electing the representatives and passing the propositions that will impact the state of our air, water, soil, and climate in the years to come.  Clean Air Mom’s Action — the political action partner of Mom’s Clean Air Force — is urging parents to get out and vote for the health of our children and those who are the most vulnerable.

Please visit… Read the rest

October 31, 2016

Guest Post: Why I love having to take my stuff to the Transfer Station myself

The following is an email I received from reader Susan Siu about how much she loves having to take her recycling to the local transfer center instead of having curbside pickup.  I loved it so much, I asked her if she would send me pictures and let me post her email here.  Don’t get me wrong:  I still want curbside recycling to be made available so that people who wouldn’t otherwise recycle will comply, but I love her enthusiasm for her local transfer station.  So, please enjoy this post about recycling/reusing in Southern Maine.

Dear Beth,

I LOVE your book and blog! I am a small-scale vegetarian organic homesteader in Southern Maine currently in the process of going zero-waste and plastic-free, and your book has been extremely helpful as well as fascinating. I have been watching many of your film/video recommendations with my kids, and they are sharing what they’ve learned with all their friends.

After reading your story… Read the rest