The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Plastic-Free Alternatives

My exploration of plastic-free options for products in various categories

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 30, 2017

Introducing Organic, Plastic-Free Hair Ties

Two years ago, I posted this photo on Facebook with the caption:

People ask me what I do for hair elastics since they are plastic.  The truth is, I’ve never had to buy them because there are a gazillion on the ground every day.  Parking lots, sidewalks, the floor of the gym… How do they get there?  And is reusing discarded hair elastics gross or thrifty?  Would you do it?

So, um, yeah.  I pick up crap off the ground and put it in my hair.  For the rest of you, please check out KOOSHOO certified organic hair accessories.  Their hair elastics are made from organic cotton and natural rubber, not plastic!

KOOSHOO sent me a pack of five hair elastics to try out.  Ironically, I had just gotten my hair cut before trying them, so I did the best I could.  They work great, and because they are covered in cotton, the natural rubber elastic does not pull your hair.

You can order KOOSHOO plastic-free hair ties from my friends Jay and Chantal at… Read the rest

June 29, 2017

Searching for a Plastic-Free, Zero-Waste Dental Floss

For ten years, I’ve been searching for the perfect plastic-free dental floss.  Back when I wrote my first dental floss post, the greenest choices were either biodegradable silk floss in rigid plastic containers (I’m looking at you, Radius) or non-biodegradable Eco-Dent nylon floss in a cardboard box.  (Some brands like Tom’s of Maine or Radius seemed to come in cardboard boxes but actually included a hard plastic dispenser inside the box.)  There was no biodegradable floss in plastic-free packaging.

Times have changed.

Recently, I discovered two more promising brands of floss — one that is plastic-free and another that is both plastic-free and refillable!  Here’s a rundown, comparing Eco-Dent in a cardboard box, Le Negri in a metal tin, and Dental Lace in a refillable glass container, as well as a few more options at the bottom of the post.

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

February 24, 2017

How to Buy and Store Loose Lettuce & Leafy Greens Without Plastic

A question I get frequently is how to buy and store loose leaf greens like lettuce or spinach without plastic.  I thought I had the perfect solution back in October 2015, when I posted about Lovely Naked Lettuce.  But recently, Stacy from Vejibag contacted me with an even better idea.  So I thought I would post an update.

Buying Lettuce & Other Greens Without Plastic

To review, most lettuce, even if it’s not wrapped in plastic, has either a plastic band or a big fat twist tie around it.  And while some of those twist ties are wire and paper instead of plastic, I’d rather not generate any garbage if I can help it.  (How many twist ties can anyone actually reuse?  And vendors won’t take them back.)

Fortunately, where I live, we have other options.  Sometimes it means choosing a different store, and that’s okay with me.  So I only buy lettuce, spinach, and other greens from stores or farmers markets where they… Read the rest

February 5, 2017

New Service Delivers Refillable Products in Glass Containers to Your Door

Fillgood.co refillable liquid products

So, you’ve been reading about ways to reduce your plastic use, including bringing back empty bottles and containers of personal care and cleaning products to refill, and you think, “I’ve got to try that sometime.”  (The BULK mobile site can help you find refill locations.) But that means planning ahead and remembering to bring your empty containers back to the store.  Once you get in the habit of doing it, remembering is no big deal.  But getting started can be difficult for folks just beginning the plastic-free, zero waste journey.  If only there were a service that would pick up those empties and deliver freshly filled ones right to your door.

If you live in the Bay Area, Stéphanie Regni can help!  Her company, Fillgood.co, delivers refilled glass containers of natural personal care and cleaning products to local customers.  I paid a visit to Stéphanie at her home in Albany, CA, last month, and chatted… Read the rest

January 16, 2017

How to Buy “New Shoes” without Buying New Shoes

Last year, I was trying really hard to buy nothing new, and while I fell short several times (more on that in a future post), I did pretty well in the shoe department.  Nearly all shoes have at least some plastic components.  Buying them secondhand or repairing the shoes you already have are great ways to get “new shoes” without actually buying new shoes and new plastic.

Buy Secondhand Shoes

I’m not one of those people who won’t buy secondhand shoes.  You can find some pretty great, almost new shoes at thrift stores for a fraction of the cost of new shoes.  In June, my local Goodwill had a 50% off shoe sale, so I bought four pairs of practically new shoes for about $20.  (They were actually in much better shape than in this photo that I took today after having worn them for several months.)

When buying secondhand shoes, make sure the soles are not scuffed (or only minimally scuffed) and insoles are in good shape.  If … Read the rest

December 27, 2016

Homemade Plastic-Free Beef Jerky

It’s super easy to make your own beef jerky.  But before I get into how, let me explain why.  Beef jerky (or any kind of jerky, for that matter) is not something I normally eat or even think about.  But in 2015, while planning for the annual Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert, I wanted to find a good source of protein that would hold up in the weather without refrigeration or plastic packaging.  And knowing that I would be camping with Zero Waste guru Bea Johnson (a very exciting story for another day), I wanted to do more than simply stock up on trail mix and dry soups from the bulk bins, which is what I’ve lived on in previous years.… Read the rest

December 26, 2016

DIY Plastic-Free Ironing Board Cover and Natural Wool Pad

Last November, I decided it was time to get rid of the small, ratty, and possibly toxic table-top ironing board we’d been using for years.  And by we, I mean Michael.  Still haunted by memories of ironing my dad’s shirts in the dank basement laundry room while the crickets chirped and imaginary mice scurried from corner to corner, I avoid ironing as much as possible.  Michael, on the other hand, irons his work shirts every week, and I wanted him to have a nice, full-sized board with a non-toxic pad and cover, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money.

Getting an Ironing Board for FREE

Knowing that I was going to be starting a year of buying nothing new, I decided to look for a secondhand ironing board.  I posted an ad on Nextdoor, a social network for neighbors to stay in touch about what’s happening in the hood, asking if anyone had an ironing board they didn’t want.

I would have been happy to pay for it,… Read the rest