The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Global Warming & Energy Conservation

March 17, 2009

Plastic into Oil? What do you think?

This just in: Oregon plastics recycler, Agri-Plas, has begun converting plastic waste back into crude oil. According to Businesswire, “the company recently delivered its first full tanker (8,200 gallons) of oil to a refinery in Tacoma, Wash., which translates to a final delivery of 196 barrels of oil.”

The method was developed by Plas2Fuel, a Kelso, Washington alternative energy company.

Until now, Agri-Plas has been a conventional plastics recycler, focusing on agricultural waste such as greenhouse film, nursery pots and plastic binder twine, as well as limited amounts of household plastic waste, which it recycles into other plastic products.

Now, the company is collecting dirty plastic materials which are unsuitable for traditional recycling for the plastic to oil process. And the state of Oregon has been a major supporter of the project, giving financial assistance through the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit.

Right… Read the rest

January 9, 2009

Plastic, Glass, Egg Salad, & Global Warming

My lunch today… it illustrates some of the choices (or false choices) we sometimes find ourselves making where the environment is concerned.

I wanted an egg salad sandwich, but I didn’t have any mayonnaise in the house. I could have walked down to the corner store to buy some more, but there I’d be confronted with the choice of plastic or glass jars. I could have simply opted for the glass jar and been done with it, but lately I’ve been hearing from a lot of companies about how their plastic containers are better for the environment because they weigh less and therefore require less fuel to ship.

This is true.

Plastic does weigh less than glass, and it does require less fuel to ship. Perhaps, as far as global warming is concerned, it’s the better choice. But global warming is not our only environmental concern. Plastic, as I’ve written here often, carries with it a whole host of toxicity and pollution issues. And, … Read the rest

December 23, 2008

California Academy of Sciences: A Visit to the Greenest Museum in the World

What’s it like inside the world’s greenest museum? That’s what I wanted to find out. Michael, David, and Nancy just wanted to explore and have a good time. So we all BARTed out to Golden Gate Park on Saturday to visit the new California Academy of Sciences museum.

Michael and I arrived first and checked out the cafeteria, conveniently located right inside the front doors. There was lots of organic food in evidence, as well as compostable foodware. There were also chips and cookies in plastic wrap and Mylar bags. Ah well. Nothing’s ever perfect, is it? Checking out the unattended waste station with its bins labeled Recycle, Compost, and Landfill, we spied all types of waste indiscriminately tossed into all three containers, as well as visitors reading the signs and incorrectly attempting to guess what they meant.

A staff member posted at the waste station to help educate guests might have been in order. Michael and Nancy … Read the rest

July 30, 2008

Take Back The Climate

I’ve been asked to present the Take Back The Filter campaign (urging Clorox to take back and reuse/recycle used Brita water filter cartridges) as part of a panel at the California Resource Recovery Association’s (CRRA) annual conference next week. I am excited to have the opportunity to share the campaign with this audience, and when initially asked, wasn’t at all nervous about speaking: I’ve been talking about not much else for the past 3 months!

Not nervous, that is, until I found out that the theme of the conference is CARBONOPOLY: Climate Change Is Not A Game We Can Lose.

Oh dear. I know about zero waste. I know about the problems of plastic. I know why I don’t want Brita filter cartridges to continue to be landfilled or incinerated. But I hadn’t related the issue to climate change. In fact, I actually knew very little about global warming except that we’re all supposed to use less energy, buy fewer things… Read the rest

July 9, 2008

Help! I’m on the Low Carbon Diet and I need some advice.

So a few weeks ago, I started to write about how I and a couple of guys from Green Sangha had begun the Low Carbon Diet challenge (as if we all need one more freakin’ challenge right now!) but I was tired and feeling fluey and never finished the post.

Well, I’m back on it. But I’m stuck. The guys and I pretty much flew through Section 1, patting ourselves on the back for having done almost everything on the list already:

1) Reducing garbage — I have next to none. 2) Turning down hot water heater and using less hot water. Check. 3) Reducing dish washing water. Check. 4) Washing and drying clothes efficiently. This needs work. We do wash everything in cold water. And we can’t afford to buy new appliances right now. But I have been remiss about looking into drying racks or clotheslines. Mainly cuz I just don’t want to. (Don’t be mad, Burbanmom.) 5) Turning down the thermostat, and getting a programmable one. Check. 6)… Read the rest

March 12, 2008

Hi, there. I want to talk to you about ducts.

This post has only the loosest relevance to plastic. Some ducts are made from plastic. And they would get very dusty if not for the plastic filters which catch much of the particulate before it enters the furnace. Of course, I didn’t know any of this before I read Burbanmom’s post a month ago about how we should be changing or cleaning our furnace filters monthly in order to help our heating systems work more efficiently and save energy.

My first reaction was, “Furnace filter? I didn’t even know we had a furnace, much less a filter to clean. We are renters. We program a little box on the wall to turn the heat up to 65F when we’re home and down to 60F when we’re out or asleep, as per Crunchy Chicken’s Freeze Yer Buns Challenge. Hot air magically comes out of vents in the ceiling. You mean, there’s more to it than that?” So I Googled “change furnace filter” and found many photos like the one… Read the rest

October 31, 2007

Broken CFLs – a Scary Halloween Story

Happy Halloween. After reading nearly twenty articles this past month on how to “green” your Halloween, Michael and I have decided to skip it altogether this year and opt for a nice Ethiopian dinner out with friends. That solves our problem of finding plastic-free Halloween treats to hand out. None. Of course, if you were hoping I’d post my solutions for a plastic-free Halloween, I’ve let us all down! Oh well… there’s always next year. Feel free to post your own solutions to the Halloween greed-fest in the comments. In the meantime, continuing with the global warming/energy conservation theme this week, and needing to provide a little Halloween scare, I thought I’d share some information I just discovered.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we had bought a package of Phillips CFLs from Costco (in the days when we weren’t being careful about plastic) and had such a hard time getting them out of the … Read the rest

October 30, 2007

Smart Strips are REALLY smart!

So, at the end of my gloomy post yesterday (yes, I was a little depressed) I said I’d write about some things we’ve done here at Chez Terry/Stoler to save energy. Most of it is either stuff you’ve probably heard a million times (use CFLs instead of incandescent bulbs, use a programmable thermostat, use cold water to wash clothes, open the drapes during the day and close them at night, turn off lights when leaving a room, turn off the computer at night and while out of the house.) Other measures are things I’ve already written about here: not owning a car and buying carbon offsets for the few times we travel by plane or Flexcar, buying very few new things in general and opting for products with the least packaging, buying as locally as possible to avoid transportation energy costs. Other things, like buying energy-saving appliances or renovating our house are not options for us because we rent.

Another energy-saving measure that… Read the rest

October 30, 2007

Why I don’t talk about global warming

Nearly every “green” blog and web site these days focuses on global warming. And it seems like many of them focus on it to the exclusion of all other environmental issues. In fact, a few days ago, I read something that made me feel really sad. Alan Morton wrote in an article on the blog, Big Green Challenge:

George Marshall of COIN wrote a provocative piece about whether re-using plastic bags and other small actions are helpful when it comes to doing something meaningful about climate change.

See Guardian and his blog.

Now he is right to point out that re-using bags has a very small effect on overall carbon use. He acknowledges that there may be other benefits — a few turtles won’t die as a result of confusing plastic bags in the sea for jellyfish.

So can we consign the idea of re-using bags and similar “simple tips” to the recycling bin? And chastise the Government and anyone else who promote them for diverting us from… Read the rest

September 13, 2007

A Special Message from the Polar Bear Community

While Beth is taking another night off from blogging in order to get some much-needed and well-deserved sleep, we bring you A Special Message from the Polar Bear Community:

Hey Humans:

Our habitat is shrinking due to global warming. If current trends continue, TWO-THIRDS of our population will be driven out of existence.

On top of that, this past week saw the publication of a report about how the Canadians are asserting THEIR claims to the Arctic. Not to mention the Americans, the Norwegians, the Danes … (Much as we like the Canadians, being nice people who generally don’t invade anyone and have those cool Tim Horton’s restaurants, we feel that the best claim to the Arctic is OURS.)

We think the governments of these countries are actually excited that the polar ice is shrinking because that will make it easier to send ships up here to look for resources.

Oh, did we mention what these resources are?

Yup.

Oil and gas.

Of course.

And what’s… Read the rest