The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Global Warming & Energy Conservation

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 14, 2013

How Fracking is Driving the Plastics Industry

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth by injecting highly pressurized fluids–including combinations of highly toxic chemicals–into the shale to release the trapped gas.  The process was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005, which means companies don’t even have to disclose the chemicals they use–chemicals which can contaminate ground water.  Fracking has been linked to air and water pollution and even earthquakes.

But what does fracking have to do with plastic?

Most people still think that plastic is made from petroleum–oil.  And much of it is.  But in the United States, a large percentage of plastic is actually made from natural gas.  Why? … Read the rest

September 14, 2013

Celebrating the Sun

Aloha. I’m writing this post high above the Pacific Ocean on my way to Hawaii. I’m thinking about how I’m increasing my carbon footprint this month with so much travelling. And I’m also thinking about the carbon footprint of Burning Man. This will be my final Burning Man post for the year, and hopefully it will be a good one. (I didn’t go to bed last night, so we’ll see what comes through my index finger as I Swype the screen on my Android phone.)

Burning Man is all about burning carbon.  During the week, people erect beautiful wooden sculptures that they’ve spent all year constructing…

only to burn them a few days later.  … Read the rest

July 31, 2012

What’s Plastic Got to Do with Clean Air?

If I asked you to list the problems with plastic, you might mention toxic chemicals like BPA or phthalates; or the fact that it doesn’t biodegrade; or that animals ingest it; or that there is a toxic soup of plastic swirling around in the world’s oceans.  Those are the issues I’ve focused on for the past 5 years, so last year, when Moms Clean Air Force asked me to write a blog post for them, I balked.  “Clean air is a vitally important environmental issue,” I said, “but my blog focuses on plastic, not air.  Plus, I’m behind on writing my new book Plastic-Free and have no time to delve into other subjects.”

Silly me.  As I researched the book, I learned about many ways that the life cycle of plastic contributes to air pollution, both indoor and out, and that reducing our plastic consumption will help to protect the air we breathe.  So here are a few reasons why those of us concerned about reducing… Read the rest

October 10, 2010

SunChips Discontinues Compostable Bag. Do We Care?

Today is 10/10/10, Climate Action Day. It’s also the week that Pepsico discontinued its new compostable SunChips snack bags due to complaints that the bags are too noisy. (See my comparison video below.) So what do global climate change and compostable snack bags have to do with each other? Well, I’ll admit it’s a stretch, but read on and I’ll explain how I think they’re connected and also why I haven’t written about the new bags until now.

The SunChips Compostable Bag Story

Last year, Pepsico announced it would be selling its SunChips snack food in compostable bags made from PLA (polylactic acid), which is a polymer made from plants rather than petroleum. The PLA used in the SunChips bags comes from corn and reportedly, it would compost in both commercial compost facilities and backyard compost heaps. That’s good news for snack food junkies, right? No more plastic bags to last in the landfill for a thousand… Read the rest

October 29, 2009

350 Day on the Beach. Where in the World is Beth?

350.org has released this fantastic video showing actions all over the world that took place on October 24.

So where was I?

The best laid plans sometimes go awry when unknown locations and strange parking fee machines are involved. By the time I got to the beach in Santa Monica for the 350 Day Blogger Beach Cleanup, the event had already begun. Not to miss out, filmmaker Jan Vozenilek and I ran across the sand as fast as we could toward what we thought was our group. (Click images to see larger size on 350.org web site.)

We arrived huffing and panting to a beautiful sand sculpture on Santa Monica Beach, only to realize we were at the wrong event! Who cares? This group was fabulous.

So I hung out on the beach for a while with Jan (who just returned from filming dead albatross chicks on Midway with photographer Chris Jordan) and enthusiastic plastic pollution activist Sarah Kornfeld,

took pictures of my own boobs (in a “Plastic Is Washed Up” T-shirt),… Read the rest

October 15, 2009

Climate Action Day is coming. What will you do?

Back in the early 70’s when I was a child, there were few movies scarier to me than The Wizard of Oz. Surprisingly, the made-for-TV Horton Hears a Who was one that frightened me more than that wicked green witch with her flying monkeys. Every time it came on, I’d hold my breath until the end, sure that this time the Whos would not yell loud enough to save themselves. Those in charge of their very existence would not hear them. They’d end up boiling in the pot for sure. But of course, each time, the Whos did come through. Little shirker Jo-Jo adds his voice to the chorus of Whos crying, “We’re here! We’re here!” and the day is saved. I could sleep easy that night, knowing that once again justice (and cold hard facts) had prevailed.

As corny as it might seem, every time I think about the climate crisis the world faces today, I can’t help thinking of Seuss’s story and how, even with the expert testimony of … Read the rest

September 23, 2009

Living in the Age of Stupid or the Age of Compassion?

Monday began with me in a classroom in Benicia, teaching children about plastic, and ended in a cheesy piano bar in San Francisco’s Union Square. In between, a phenomenal global event.

Sitting in a Century movie theater in downtown San Francisco, I was taken over by waves of grief for our planet and especially its people. As I emailed to a friend, I think I must have held my breath for the entire length of the Age of Stupid premiere, a film event broadcast to 440 cities in 63 countries.

View the trailer:

Set in the year 2055, after the effects of global climate change have basically wiped out most of humans and other animals on earth, a lone archivist records a message, illustrating it with a handful of the billions of stories he’s collected in a massive database he calls the Global Archive, before transmitting the entire collection into outer space as a cautionary tale to future civilizations. The big question: Why didn’t we save ourselves… Read the rest

May 7, 2009

Buses and Trains – Going on a power trip

I spend several hours per week sitting quietly in a big plastic box. No, it’s not a new form of therapy. It’s BART. (Bay Area Rapid Transit.)

While I’ve transferred most of my medical and other services to within walking or biking distance of my home, I still have to commute roughly 18 miles each way to my job, which is located on the other side of the San Francisco Bay in Daly City. As I mentioned on Tuesday, we’ve chosen our home location to be within walking distance of a BART station. Fortunately, my office is even closer to a BART station on the other end.

As with walking and driving, public transit has its pros and cons.

PROS

Public Transit uses less energy than individual cars. In fact, BART has a carbon calculator as part of its Quick Trip Planner which will let you know how much carbon you save on the trip compared to driving. One leg of my commute on BART saves 18 pounds of CO2. Yes, we’re still going on a power trip. Just not… Read the rest

May 5, 2009

Eco-Driving is great. But how about less driving in the first place?

May is EcoDriving Month. I don’t know who decided this, but it’s fine with me if designating a month will encourage drivers to learn strategies for lessening their fuel consumption and emissions while driving. In fact, EcoDriving USA is an advertiser on Fake Plastic Fish this month. Click the ad on the left sidebar to learn tips for driving and maintaining your car in a conscientious manner.

Keep in mind, however, that EcoDriving USA is a project of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. So while the site gives strategies for better driving, it never mentions the idea of driving less to begin with. Avoiding rapid stops and starts is a good idea. Walking, getting on your bike, or taking public transit are even better.

I’m not here to tell you that driving is bad. I don’t own a car myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t drive occasionally. Some communities are set up for car-free living (like the neighborhood … Read the rest