The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Issues

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

May 22, 2016

BULK — New Mobile Site from The Zero Waste Home

Bea Johnson from The Zero Waste Home has created a new mobile website for finding shops that offer products without packaging.  No matter where in the world you live, it’s possible there is a shop nearby where you can bring your own bags and containers to buy foods or personal care and cleaning products without the disposable wrapping, usually plastic, that most products come packaged in.  You might have never heard of this shop, but someone else has and has added it to the BULK website for you to find.… 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