The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: art, craft, office, school supplies

May 21, 2008

Check out my fancy new "business" card holder (and cards!)

Isn’t this just the coolest idea ever? I wish I could take credit for this recycled business card holder, but the kudos go to the geniuses at Acorn Studios, where they have full instructions for making your own! (2011 Update: The Acorn Studios link has been removed. Here are instructions on another site:

So I displayed my new Fake Plastic Fish cards in their spiffy recycled plastic holder at the monthly gathering of East Bay Green Drinks tonight, where I was invited to come and present the Take Back The Filter campaign. The cards were designed by Ed Colmar of Green Graphics, a green printing and design firm here in Oakland. He’s probably going to help me clean up this web site too, maybe in time for its one-year anniversary. Right Ed?

For those who don’t know, Green Drinks is a monthly gathering of “people interested in sustainability, including … Read the rest

January 29, 2008

Plastic-free Knitting

Knitting is a nice, eco-friendly hobby, right? Well, maybe. But it depends on the tools we choose and the materials we use. (Hey, that rhymes.) For a long time, I’ve been opting for natural fibers over acrylic and other synthetic yarns. But it wasn’t until I decided to knit a hat for one of my co-workers this past December that I really examined the contents of my knitting needle roll and realized just how much plastic I had thoughtlessly purchased while building my stash. And I’m not just talking about the needles themselves, although quite a few of them are made of plastic. Even the wooden needles are sold in plastic packaging.

I created this hat using wooden circular needles, which of course have a plastic cord that connects them. (Have you guessed I’m just looking for an excuse to show off the felted hat I made? Check it out before and after felting.)

Fortunately, I already had the circular needles in my stash and didn’t… Read the rest

December 18, 2007

I’m not the only one thinking about tape lately.

There was a very serious message on my answering machine this morning from my sister, Ellen, who was worried about the Christmas present she was wrapping to send me. “Help. I’m standing here paralyzed. I reused the wrapping that you used for my present last year, I got a cardboard box, I filled the empty space with scrap paper, I thought you would be so proud, and then I went to tape the box shut… with plastic. Please tell me what to do. I’m serious. I respect what you’re doing. I don’t want to send you something that you don’t want. But I can’t finish packaging your gift. Please call me back.”

This message was heart-breaking. I never, ever want to cause such distress to the family that I love. But it was also really sweet to hear how hard she was trying to send me a plastic-free gift. Of course I called her back and told her to use whatever tape she had and not worry about it. And I thanked her profusely for… Read the rest

December 18, 2007

Wrapping presents without tape or glue

Here are two Christmas presents I received tonight from a company I work for, each containing at least 4 pieces of Scotch (plastic) tape. One thing my friends and family know about me is that I can’t wait to open presents, and tonight was no exception. So I justified my impatience by resolving to figure out a way to re-wrap the same presents using no tape or glue at all.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been searching the web for instructions, hoping to find a way to wrap gifts without any tape OR ribbon. I even went to Borders after work tonight to look for a book on gift-wrapping, to no avail. The couple of books I found required double-sided tape. So I decided I’d just have to figure it out myself. I got part of the way there. The method I discovered does require some ribbon to hold it in place, but nothing sticky.

Why, you may ask, am I making a big deal out of something as petty as a little bit of tape? Well, I guess it’s not a huge deal when you look … Read the rest

October 2, 2007

Magic Stapler – Not magic and not really a stapler

As much as we try to avoid buying new things in order to “step lightly on the planet,” we can still be tempted by shiny, new gadgets. Especially when they are promoted by flashy eco web sites. We shouldn’t let go of our critical thinking skills just because we happen to be browsing a site called But that’s exactly what happened to me when I ordered a free sample of the Magic Stapler based on this Treehugger review. Even though the thing is made out of plastic, my curiosity got the better of me, and I bit.

The “stapler” operates without any staples at all, cutting a hole into the paper, forming a tab which is folded back and through a slit. The idea is similar to the way we used to attach papers in school when we didn’t have a stapler handy by tearing some tabs into the top of the pages and folding them over. Except that method was free and required only our hands, whereas this method requires a jazzy plastic… Read the rest

September 27, 2007

Of Coffee, Crayons, and Crackling Firelogs

Last Sunday at the farmer’s market, a woman asked me if I knew what crayons were made from. I didn’t. So when I got home, I did a little research. Most crayons are made from paraffin wax and pigment. Well, I know what pigment is. And I think I know what wax is. Or do I? So I looked up paraffin wax. Turns out it’s made from petroleum! You probably already knew that. Silly me. I had no idea.

So I did a quick Google search and found several brands of alternative crayons. Here are a few examples:

Lyra natural beeswax crayons Stockmar beeswax crayons Crayon Rocks made from soy wax

After looking up crayons, I started wondering about other things made from wax. Like waxed paper. I’ve seen eco web sites promoting waxed paper as an alternative to plastic wrap. But if they’re both made from petroleum, is there a difference? Does paraffin wax biodegrade? Apparently, it does, according to a study by Fabien Marino of the Department of Chemical… Read the rest

August 29, 2007

Reducing Plastic Waste In The Workplace

In addition to blogging about plastic, knitting animals from grocery bags, and training for a half marathon (okay, that one is kind of a fib), I have an actual job in an office. I run the accounting department of a small home care agency in the Bay Area. (What, you couldn’t guess I’m an accountant from the graphs and itemized lists?) And one of the things that I noticed when I returned to the office after starting this project is that we had been tossing out an awful lot of plastic.

We have a little kitchen and make our own lunches. But the “tableware” we use is mainly paper or plastic. Numerous plastic knives, forks, spoons, and cups are thrown away every weekday, so I decided to provide an alternative. First, I went to a thrift store and purchased a bunch of cheap, stainless steel cutlery. I also bought a (plastic) basket to hold it. Since the basket came from Goodwill, I felt fine about reusing it for this purpose.

My main concern was… Read the rest

July 10, 2007

Plarn It! Has she really started knitting again???

The last time I picked up the needles was March 2006. And I haven’t actually picked them up again yet. However, I did stay up all night on July 3, watching movies and making this big “yarn” ball (a.k.a. “plarn”) out of plastic grocery bags. (I should categorize this post under “Projects for Obsessive Insomniacs.”)

Did you know that crafty people are finding all kinds of uses for plastic bags in order to save them from the landfill? Here are just a few:

Instructions for creating the plastic bag “yarn” A knitted plastic tote bag (they use a different method for creating the yarn) Fused plastic bag fabric Here’s an article on TreeHugger about all kinds of plastic bag DIY projects.

So what am I going to knit with this ball of nontraditional yarn? Stay tuned…… Read the rest