The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: holidays

January 18, 2010

Red Hot Plastic Valentine’s Hug

Valentine’s Day is almost here! We’ve only got about a month to finish our shopping, as Walgreen’s and other drug stores remind us, their aisles suddenly lined in red and pink, overflowing with hearts and bears and sweet treats. On this official day of love, how will Michael know how I feel if I don’t choose the right gift?

A card? So many to choose from, and not really special enough.

A box of candy? It’s plastic-wrapped for our protection. But really, too common, right?… Read the rest

December 25, 2009

Learning How to Love Christmas

What I Used to Love

When I was a child, Christmas really was the best time of the year.  It meant four kinds of treats from Mom Mom:  sand tarts, Mexican tea cookies, seven layer cookies, and chocolate fudge with walnuts.  It meant driving around to see the colored lights.  Singing holiday songs at school and Christmas hymns at church.  Watching the specials on TV: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman.  Decorating the Christmas tree, which was a real one until we discovered my brother’s allergies.  Waiting anxiously upstairs until we were allowed to come down on Christmas morning.  And of course, it meant Santa and presents and toys.  I believed in Santa until I was eight years old, even while getting teased by kids at school.  He’d come down the chimney (that we didn’t have) and land in the fake cardboard fireplace, which also served as a place to hang our stockings. … Read the rest

December 23, 2009

What’s Clogging Up Your Life? A Story of Unwatched Videos & Other Stuff

The Hours is one of my favorite movies of all time. My first time seeing it in the theater created such a profound reaction in me that I wept uncontrollably through the entire film. I was still so emotional afterwards, I had to hide in the bathroom stall before facing the world. When people asked me if The Hours was a good movie, I couldn’t even answer. I didn’t know if it was objectively good or merely spoke to me. Spoke? More like reached in and tore my guts out. The second time I saw it, I had almost the same reaction. So when the film came out on DVD, I bought it immediately.

A few nights ago, I thought I would watch The Hours again. I pulled it off the shelf and realized that from the time I purchased it around 2003, I had watched it exactly nonce (which is once minus one.) Zero times. It was still in the plastic packaging! As I pulled off the wrapper, I thought about the idea of possessions, owning things that we put aside and never look at again. I looked … Read the rest

December 16, 2009

Is Recycling the Answer to Holiday Waste?

Actually, no. Recycling is certainly important. We do it in our home. But it’s not enough, and here are a few reasons why.

Recycling is a business.

Like any business, recycling relies on markets to survive. Do you know what happens to the metal, glass, paper, and plastic you put into your recycle bin? After sorting at your community’s recycling center, it is sold to companies that do that actual recycling, breaking down the materials and incorporating them into new products. But what happens if no one wants to buy the stuff we toss in the bin?

A NY Times article last year reported that much of our community recycling was piling up in warehouses or ending up in landfills, due to the economic downturn and lack of demand from China, the biggest export market for recyclables from the United States.

Recycling costs communities money.

According to an L.A. Times article last month, recycling centers across California are shutting down in response… Read the rest

December 2, 2009

Holiday Buying: More Pressure Today Than 40 Years Ago?

Once upon a time, there was a little girl whose only wish was for a Barbie Country Camper.  This was 1971.  For simplicity’s sake, let’s call the little girl Beth.   Beth had seen the Barbie Country Camper in Saturday morning TV commercials, and she wanted her Barbies to have the fold-out picnic table, pop-out tent, sleeping bags, and camper kitchen.  The Barbie Country Camper was the first and most important item in her long list of wants that she secretly wrote and mailed to Santa Claus.  And for two weeks before Christmas, she dreamed about the Barbie Country Camper when she went to bed at night.

Christmas Eve, she didn’t even go to sleep at all.  Butterflies danced in her stomach and Country Camper thoughts raced through her head.  When Christmas morning finally arrived, she raced downstairs to find under the tree the Barbie Country Camper she’d been waiting for!  She raced over to the Barbie Country Camper, grabbed… Read the rest

November 30, 2009

Notes on a Plastic-Free, Shopping-Free Holiday

Have you ever had so much fun that you completely forgot to take pictures? That’s what happens when the day is all about great food, friends, and silly games. Our friends Red & Jen (that’s them on the left) hosted a Thanksgiving potluck, and you know what? I didn’t see a lick of plastic. Okay, maybe I just wasn’t looking for it. Because sometimes I just have to turn off my “Fake Plastic Fish” brain and turn on my “connecting with others and forgetting about judgments” brain. I kinda wish that part of my gray matter would light up more often.

So here are a few notes with only a few pictures (which were actually taken by Jen and sent to me the next day!)


1) Michael and I got up early Thanksgiving morning and cooked butternut squash pie with a gluten-free pecan crust, baked yams (w/ butter, brown sugar, & lemon juice), and Autumn Harvest Salad with Persimmons. I got a little frantic time-wise… Read the rest

November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving, Buy Nothing Day, & My Travel Mug

stainless steel travel mug

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. This post is not really about today but tomorrow:  the day the media insists on calling “Black Friday.”  I’m choosing instead to honor “Buy Nothing Day.” And to celebrate Buy Nothing Day, I am not going to replace my lost travel mug. And I’m not just going to wait until Saturday to replace it either. Here’s a little background…

This was my travel mug. Nice, huh? Stainless steel outside and in. Yeah, some plastic, which at this point seems to be inevitable with travel mugs. I lost it a few weeks ago and have been carrying a big ceramic mug with me, which is not so practical since it has no top and could be easily broken. But this is not the first travel mug I’ve lost. I lost the previous one, which looked exactly like this, back in October of 2008.  I’d had it for about a year.

See, I lose things. A few years ago, I left an iPod in the back seat of a taxi cab. I left a camera… Read the rest

November 18, 2009

Say No to Fake Plastic Wishbones & Other Thanksgiving Waste

Fake plastic wishbones?  Around Thanksgiving time last year, I read a post by blogger Rejin from Urban Botany blasting People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for promoting plastic Lucky Break Wishbones .  She wrote:

Hasn’t PETA ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? They claim these wishbones and their packages are recyclable, but let’s face it: 99.99% of them are going to end up in a landfill, or in the ocean, where they will probably be swallowed by sea turtles [And I would add baby albatross chicks] who will choke and die…. Animals, PETA, animals! Do you hear me?

Apparently PETA did not because the organization promoted the wishbones again this year.

But I’m not here to pick on PETA. I relate this story because it got me thinking about other types of Thanksgiving waste.  According to Bob Lilienfeld of the Use Less Stuff Report,  between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans generate 25 … Read the rest

February 6, 2009

Love the Ocean, Use Less Plastic

My friend Eli Saddler from wants you to make this a plastic-free Valentine’s Day in 2009. Here are some tips from The FaceBook event he created:

Show your love for that special someone in your life and the ocean on this Valentine’s Day.

Love the Ocean, Use Less Plastic:

1. Bring your reusable bag when you go shopping and/or say “no” when offered a plastic bag.

2. Pick a non-plastic gift to show your love. Really, is plastic the way to say, “I love you”?

3. How about wrapping your gift in a reusable shopping bag?

4. If you live near the ocean, take the time to visit and have a romantic walk on the beach, go surfing, go wildlife watching, or just to watch the sun set. Maybe even take a couple of minutes to pick up some marine debris while you’re there or to even join a beach cleanup that weekend (check your local Surfrider for info:

5. If you go out to dinner, remember to order only … Read the rest

December 3, 2008

Dear family and friends,

Happy holidays! It’s the time of year for snow and ice. Or light-strung palm trees, depending on where you live. Here in Oakland, we haven’t even turned on our central heating yet. My toes are mildly chilly — a condition easily remedied by fuzzy slippers, which I have on right now.

No matter what the weather, we’re probably all seeing a lot of the same sights and sounds: Christmas jingles, holiday lights, billboards blaring gift ideas, and commercials… commercials… commercials…

The mad rush can be overwhelming if we buy into the messages urging us to “Shop! Shop! Shop!” But it can also be exhilarating to view from the sidelines, as a bystander experiencing the thrill of the season without all the anxiety that can come with it.

This year, I’m not getting caught in the Christmas madness, but I’m not going to shun it either. I’d love to remember what it felt like as a kid when,… Read the rest