The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: art, craft, office, school supplies

August 26, 2018

Sreenivasulu’s Architectural Wonders from Reused Plastic Pen Refills

A few months ago, Sreenivasulu.M.R, a software professional in Bangalore, India,  emailed me out of the blue to let me know about his project building intricate miniatures of world-renowned architecture out of used plastic pen refills.  These days, a lot of my emails go unanswered and even unread because my time is consumed with caring for my dad.  But for some reason, this one intrigued me enough to click the links in it.  And wow, was I glad I did!  Sreenivasulu’s pieces are amazing.  And he’s using them to educate students about plastic reduction and recycling.… Read the rest

January 31, 2018

How To Move Long Distance Without Plastic

plastic-free moving

When I left my home in California last month to care for my dad in Maryland, I struggled to figure out how to do it plastic-free.   Moving across the country can involve a lot of disposable plastic if you’re not careful:  plastic bubble wrap inside your boxes, plastic tape to close the boxes, and plastic stretch wrap around everything. Apparently, stretch wrap is now a moving company’s best friend.  In fact, I had the following phone conversation with one of the many moving company reps I spoke to:

Me:  I don’t want my items covered in plastic wrap.  Can you just use reusable moving blankets? Rep:  We do use blankets.  But we have to use plastic wrap over the blankets to protect your furniture.  No reputable company would move your possessions without plastic wrap. Me: How did they do it in the old days? Rep: If they were a good company, they used plastic wrap. Me: I mean, in the days before plastic stretch wrap. Rep:  Good moving companies… Read the rest

February 21, 2014

Opting Out of Toxic Checkbook Covers

Have you ever considered your checkbook cover? If you’re like me, you might be so accustomed to paying bills online that you don’t even remember where your checkbook is.  But I’m thinking about mine today because of an article I just read in Environmental Health News. Apparently, Deluxe, the main provider of personal checks for most of America, has reached a settlement to remove a toxic phthalate called DEHP from its plastic checkbook covers by June 2015.  According to the organization Healthcare Without Harm, DEHP “can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system — particularly the developing testes….”  And the chemical is listed by the State of California as a carcinogen and male developmental toxicant.

Opting Out

Deluxe may be reformulating its covers, but who knows what chemical they will substitute for DEHP.  And the covers are still non-biodegradable plastic. So I called Deluxe … Read the rest

October 17, 2012

Want Plastic-Free Glue? Make Homemade Wheat Paste.

I felt like I was back in kindergarten yesterday… cutting and pasting with paste you could eat if you wanted to.   I’m taking my plastics information display to the ReUseConex in Portland tomorrow and wanted to make it sturdier. Taping paper pages directly to the wooden board was not working well.  The paper curled and the natural cellulose tape I was using wouldn’t stay stuck to the wood.

This is NOT attractive:

So I decided to mount the pages on recycled cardboard.  And to do that, I needed plastic-free glue.  Finally, a chance to test out the recipe for homemade wheat paste that I included in my book without actually trying first!

How to Make Homemade Wheat Paste, aka Plastic-Free Glue


1/2 cup flour (white or unbleached flour is best.  Apparently, you can do it with whole wheat, but it might not be as sticky.) 3/4 cup cold water 3 cups boiling water

That’s all.  According to this Instructable for making Read the rest

September 30, 2010

Green Shipping Materials, Including Plastic-Free Paper Packing Tape

Before companies send me products to review, I always request that they not use any plastic packaging, including tape. Some comply. Others have a hard time with it, and their packaging ends up in my tally. I’m writing this post not only to help my readers make plastic-free packaging choices, but also to have a web page to which I (and you!) can direct vendors when asking for no plastic packaging. Just trying to make life easier for all of us.

So, here are the options:

Re-Use Shipping Materials

The greenest option will always be to reuse what you already have.

Paper Packing Tape

I buy plain paper tape that tears off easily from the roll. I bought this tape at a local office supply store.

The tape is water-activated. I tear off a strip and run it under the sink to wet.  Since I don’t ship packages very often, I don’t feel the need for a tape dispenser.  But retailers may want to invest in one.

Then, I use the tape to seal up my own reused shipping… Read the rest

February 3, 2010

When is Wool Yarn not 100% Wool?

When it’s coated with plastic. Like the kind I have to hide from Arya because things like this happen…

Two years ago, in my post about plastic-free kitting, I mentioned I was knitting slippers out of Superwash wool from Lorna’s Laces. I assumed that Superwash meant the yarn had already been washed and wouldn’t shrink anymore.  I guess I was thinking of cotton.  Anyway, an astute Fake Plastic Fish reader Rebecca left a comment on that post just a few weeks ago letting me know that Superwash wool is actually coated with a polymer to prevent the wool from shrinking. (It’s nice to know my posts hold up over time.)

Turns out, there are two methods used to create this stuff. According to’s article on Superwash wool,

It can be made using an acid bath that removes the “scales” from the fiber, or it can be made by coating the fiber with a polymer [read: plastic] that basically keeps the scales from being… Read the rest

July 31, 2009

Beth’s Big Back to School Binder Debate

You wouldn’t think that 3-ring binders would be the topic of intense debate within the green blogging community, but it turns out they have become a symbol of a much bigger discussion: the pros and cons of buying new “green” products vs. re-using older products that might not be as green. It’s a debate I constantly have with myself, and generally I end up on the side promoting less consumption, less purchasing of new stuff, less less less. Except when I think the re-used option could be harmful to health (plastic food containers, for example) and then I quickly jump on the new bandwagon.

Anyway, last week, blogger Siel Ju of Green LA Girl posted a short article about Sustainable Group’s [Now called Guided Products] Green Back to School Kit. The kit includes binders, notebooks, and other supplies made from plastic-free, recycled materials.

Blog Lighter Footstep takes issue with these products. In his article, “5… Read the rest

July 15, 2009

Help! I’m buried under paper and I can’t get up!

So here’s the deal. I promised to write a post on about plastic-free organizing tips next week. But I have no business writing any such thing. Just take a look at my desk:

I’ve been trying to organize my office space ever since we moved here in 2005, and it’s just not happening. Paper, paper everywhere. I’ve been working to reduce the amount of paper mail I receive. I get most of my bills online and don’t print them out. And yet, my desk is always full of paper — to do notes, meeting notes, contact information, flyers, business cards — and I just feel overwhelmed. (That photo? I just took it this morning. Last week, my desk was even worse before I went on a rampage and recycled a whole bunch of stuff that had “expired.”)

So I want some ideas. Some systems for clearing the clutter. And if you have a blog and have written about this topic, I’ll totally give you full credit, link to you, … Read the rest

August 29, 2008

E+Co pencils not so eco, actually.

I’ve become an honorary member of the Green Moms monthly blog carnival, which was great last month when the topic was global warming and I had to learn all about how waste is related to climate change. This month, however, the topic is “Back To School,” and I almost decided to bow out. I don’t have kids. I don’t go to school. And every other post I receive in my email box lately has something to do with the topic, so I felt I had nothing to contribute.

Nothing, that is, until I went shopping at Long’s with my friend Axelle on Friday, after taking Hobble to get her stitches out. (We put her cat box in the cart and let her ride through the store with us!) For some reason we found ourselves browsing in the school supplies aisle. Axelle was looking for… um… I can’t remember. And I was marveling at all the plastic plastic plastic. Until I spied a plain cardboard box of pencils called E+Co by Pentech. The box didn’t… Read the rest

August 22, 2008

Dear Financial West Group,

August 22, 2008

Financial West Group 4510 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Westlake Village, CA 91362

Re: Account #[omitted]

Dear FWG:

In January of this year, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to move my retirement savings into socially and environmentally responsible investments. To that end, I signed up with The Social Equity Group in Berkeley, CA to ensure that my investment funds are used to help protect the environment. In order for that to happen, my investments held by Schwab and by ING were moved into an account with Financial West Group.

The irony is that I have moved my money from two companies that save paper by offering a paper-free online statement option to one that is still sending out paper statements. But a rep at FWG explained to me that there are legal regulations and hurdles to jump through before investment companies are allowed to offer paper-free options, and FWG is in the process of making that happen.

That is good news. However,… Read the rest