The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Recycling

March 6, 2009

Plastic Gift Cards: Re-use, Recycle, Speak Out!

I’ve been carrying around two plastic movie theater gift cards for over a year. Gifts from co-workers, they are much-appreciated because they represent gifts of experiences (movies) rather than more stuff. The fact that I still have them simply means I need to get out more. But the cards themselves, of course, are made from plastic. And what happens to that plastic at the end of its life? Unlike credit cards which must be destroyed for security reasons, some gift cards can keep on giving.

The Problem

Gift cards are made from PVC, one of the most toxic plastics from cradle to grave. Each year, according to Plenty Magazine, “a whopping 75 million pounds of polyvinyl chloride material from plastic cards enters America’s waste stream.”

Reduce, Re-use

Several companies (Target, Borders, REI, Wal-Mart) offer biodegradable gift cards made from corn, while others provide reloadable cards, also decreasing the need for new … Read the rest

February 13, 2009

Gimme5, Brita, Preserve, and You!

Can you believe that the day this photo was taken I was so sick I could barely stand up?

I wrote all about the culmination of the Take Back The Filter campaign in a post on the Take Back The Filter web site, but I forgot to write about it here… until today. Michael woke me up from a sound sleep this morning with the news that I and the campaign had made the front page of a very important newspaper. Better than the NY Times, I made our local East Bay Express.

Seriously, the article “The Blogger and the Bleach Company” is very well-written and balanced, describing the reasons behind the campaign as well as its results. And reading it, I realize how important it is now that the recycling program has been created that we support it and make sure Brita users know it exists. If no one actually returns their filters for recycling, the program could fail and be discontinued.

Here’s the deal: Preserve has created a recycling program called Gimme5Read the rest

November 18, 2008

Brita® and Preserve® Announce Filter Recycling Program

After months of campaigning to urge Brita to take back and recycle used Brita filters, we (the Take Back The Filter group) are thrilled to announce the details of the take-back recycling program that Brita has developed. Read their full press release here.

1) Collection: Beginning in early January, Brita users will be able to drop off used filters at Whole Foods Markets or mail them to an address which will be provided closer to the start date. [From personal experience, I would recommend NOT sealing them up in ZipLoc bags. This just ends up creating a lot of soggy, wet, not-so-nice smelling filters.]

2) Recycline, dba Preserve, the company that makes recycled toothbrushes, razors, and other household products, will recycle 100% of each plastic filter casing collected into other household products.

3) The filter ingredients, activated carbon and ion-exchange resin will be regenerated for alternative use or converted into energy.

The Take Back… Read the rest

August 8, 2008

CRRA: They know how to do a conference!

As I mentioned, I had the privilege of presenting the Take Back The Filter campaign as part of a panel on zero waste grassroots activism at the conference of the California Resource Recovery Association this past Wednesday. I’ll tell you more about the presentation itself in a second. But first, I need to gush a bit about how the waste was handled at this conference, vs. the Blogher conference I attended a few weeks ago, and how easily other organizations could adopt this model for their gatherings.

Granted, CRRA is all about zero waste. It’s the whole point of the organization, after all. But so what? Just because other organizations might not cite waste reduction as their purpose for being in existence doesn’t mean they can’t make it one of their values and strive for zero waste at their gatherings. So, that said, here are a few things I saw that made me smile:

The requisite recycle/compost/trash stations throughout the … 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 8, 2008

Berkeley’s Green 4th of July

I love living in the Bay Area. Especially after reading Life Less Plastic’s post about all the plastic and Styrofoam at her city’s Taste of Chicago festival.

Here are some images from Berkeley’s Independence Day celebration at the Marina:

I especially love that the garbage containers are labeled “Landfill” and explain what goes to the landfill and why it’s important to choose recyclable or compostable alternatives. All the disposable dishware at the event were compostable. And there were water stations for filling up reusable bottles.

The “greening” of this event was the doing of my friend Mary Munat, aka Green Mary. In February, I wrote about Janice Sitton, my event greener friend in San Francisco. Mary is my other event greening friend, and she’s been doing it since 2000. Here’s how she got inspired to do this work, excerpted from her web site:

Mary’s epiphany came … Read the rest

February 21, 2008

Terracycle & Clif Bar: Shades of Green

Michael called me at work tonight to say he’d just heard that Clif Bar has a new program to take back its plastic energy bar wrappers and “upcycle” them in a partnership with Terracycle, the good folks who got sued by Scotts Miracle Grow for selling worm poop compost in recycled soda bottles and claiming it was better. (I’m sure it is better. Sue me.) In a joint effort, which I would have known about last week if monitor problems hadn’t kept me from reading all my email, Terracycle will send free prepaid energy bar wrapper collection envelopes to anyone who signs up for the Wrapper Brigade Program and will then manufacture them into “unique accessories and other upcycled products.” And Clif Bar will donate .02 per wrapper to the charity of your choice.

Sounds good right? Well, it didn’t sound good to me. In fact, I got all huffy about it. “Oh great!” I ranted. “Like anyone needs a … Read the rest

November 20, 2007

Recycling part 5: Only in San Francisco

Continuing my visits to SF bay area waste facilities, I took a tour yesterday of the San Francisco MRF (material recovery facility, aka recycling center) and San Francisco “dump.” What I saw looked pretty much the same as at Davis Street and CWS, so I won’t bore you with more photos of sorting machines and baled materials. Instead, I’ll sum up the experience with this little video I put together showing both operations, the clean and the stinky. This video is more detailed than the one I made of the CWS operation:

What you don’t see in this video, what San Francisco has that other recycling and garbage facilities lack (besides being a whole lot bigger) is an artist in residence! Yep, you heard me. San Francisco Dump has an Artist in Residence program. Artists get space at the dump and access to whatever materials they want to use for three-month periods.

Friday night, Michael and I attended a presentation of the SF Dump … Read the rest

November 6, 2007

Recycling Part 4: a visit to California Waste Solutions

Friday morning, I took another field trip, this time to California Waste Solutions, the company that picks up the recycling in my section of Oakland. Justin Johnson, CWS Commercial Accounts Manager, was my tour guide.

If you’ll recall, during my trip to the Davis Street Transfer Station, the Waste Management sorting machines were inoperable as a result of being jammed up by plastic sheeting and hoses. The CWS machines, on the other hand, were moving along just fine. Here’s a little video of one of the machines in operation:

Unlike Waste Management, which makes money not only from its recycling operation but also from its huge landfill, CWS’s business is 100% recycling. Therefore, it has more of a stake in recovering as much material from the waste stream as possible. Materials are sorted multiple times, taking them from this:

through the sorting process:

to the final baled materials ready for shipment:

Justin Johnson is proud… Read the rest

October 15, 2007

Recycling Tyvek: Another small way to deal with plastic at work (and home)

Disclaimer: This post is NOT an endorsement of DuPont Tyvek. DuPont Tyvek is plastic. According to DuPont, it is “very fine fibers of 100 percent high-density polyethylene that are randomly distributed and nondirectional. These fibers are first flash spun, then laid as a web on a moving bed before being bonded together by heat and pressure – without the use of binders, sizers or fillers.”

All the items down the left side of the page are products in my house made from DuPont Tyvek. I mention Tyvek because many people don’t realize it’s actually plastic and may try and recycle it with their paper. And for those of us trying to reduce our plastic use, it’s important to be aware of anything that is made from plastic.

But what makes Tyvek difficult to avoid is that many Tyvek products come to us unsolicited, especially at work. We might receive Priority Mail and Federal Express deliveries in Tyvek envelopes.

CDs might… Read the rest