The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: travel and transportation

August 18, 2009

Visiting a Plastic Paradise

I’m here in Waikiki with my family. The purpose of the trip: helping my parents. The reality of the first few days: recreation. Much needed. Walking on the beach. Climbing Diamond Head. Playing games and eating ice cream. But one thing I notice everywhere I turn: plastic. Plastic bottles and plastic trash lying on the ground. But also tiny plastic pieces that have washed up on the beach. Here are a few photos. Beautiful vistas that become heartbreaking on closer inspection. (Click on any photo to see larger.)

Diamond Head — from a distance…

Up close…

From a distance…

Up close…

From a distance…

Up close…

Bellows Beach Park — from a distance…

Up close, the sand is infused with tiny pieces of plastic that wash up all down the beach.

Last night, we had dinner at the food court in the International Market Place. All the vendors serve food on Styrofoam plates. I circled the food court several… Read the rest

August 7, 2009

My Green Chicago Trip, Part 2: Transportation & Sightseeing

Chicago is one of the best cities to see without a car! And boy, did I see a lot. I won’t bore you with all my trip photos in this post. Here’s a link to my Chicago vacation photos on Flickr, for those who are interested. I’ll just give you a glimpse of the car-free fun I had. Click on any photo to see the larger version.

My feet are my favorite mode of transit. Sunday evening, after I checked into the hostel, they took me around the neighborhood and over to Buckingham Fountain to see some wonderous sights in the dark:

Monday morning, I met up with a Fake Plastic Fish reader: the one and only Clif Brown, he of the awesome, thought-provoking comments. Clif lives nearby and made an excellent tour guide for our hours-long walk…

through downtown…

Millenium Park…

and along Lake Michigan…

where we had zero-waste ice cream cones and chatted with a few ducks. How fortunate I am to be able to spend a simple day on foot enjoying… Read the rest

August 6, 2009

My Green Chicago Trip, Part 1: Hostel vs. Hotel

So, I’ve been blogging (whining) about the Blogher Conference in Chicago, but did you know I stayed a few more days to hang out and see the city? This was my vacation, and wow did I need one.

During the conference, I roomed with Micaela Preston (Mindful Momma) at the Chicago Sheraton, the same hotel where the conference was held. And while I can deal with a pillow-topped bed a few times in my life, I couldn’t afford to stay at the Sheraton for the remainder of my trip.

Instead, I moved to the Chicago Hostel, where I shared a dorm with several other women half my age!

Less luxury, for sure. But certainly more green, and in a way, more fun!

The Sheraton provides many individually-wrapped amenities. Take a look at what is provided in the bathroom. Also, a hair dryer (not shown.)

At the hostel, you get soap and a hair dryer. And the soap comes in a bulk container, so you only use as much as you need. Zero waste.

So what did I bring? Here’s a peek at the contents… Read the rest

May 8, 2009

May is National Bike Month. Will you give biking a try?

I love my bike. In fact, I’m itching to get out and get on it right now, so this post will be short and sweet. After writing posts about driving, walking, and taking public transit, I’ve saved biking for last because it’s become my favorite. Which is funny since until I got this bike in July of last year, I was afraid of the two-wheeled beasts.

I mentioned two days ago that my community is great for walking. It’s also great for biking, Oakland being included in the U.S. Census’s Top 10 Cities for Biking. (Portland is Number One. Kansas City, MO is last.) And now, there are financial incentives to commute by bike: this year, the The Bicycle Commuter Act went into effect. You can get Commuter Checks through your employer to reimburse bike commuting expenses.

Ironically, commuting is the one thing I don’t do on my bike… since my job is 18 miles away across the bay. But I run errands, grocery shop, and do pretty much … Read the rest

May 7, 2009

Buses and Trains – Going on a power trip

I spend several hours per week sitting quietly in a big plastic box. No, it’s not a new form of therapy. It’s BART. (Bay Area Rapid Transit.)

While I’ve transferred most of my medical and other services to within walking or biking distance of my home, I still have to commute roughly 18 miles each way to my job, which is located on the other side of the San Francisco Bay in Daly City. As I mentioned on Tuesday, we’ve chosen our home location to be within walking distance of a BART station. Fortunately, my office is even closer to a BART station on the other end.

As with walking and driving, public transit has its pros and cons.


Public Transit uses less energy than individual cars. In fact, BART has a carbon calculator as part of its Quick Trip Planner which will let you know how much carbon you save on the trip compared to driving. One leg of my commute on BART saves 18 pounds of CO2. Yes, we’re still going on a power trip. Just not… Read the rest

May 6, 2009

Out of the seat and onto our feet. But is walking really plastic-free?

Monday was a beautiful day for the race — the human race, as Michael likes to say. And although rain appeared imminent, I decided to take a walk. As I mentioned a few months ago, I’ve slowly been switching my healthcare, dental, and other services to providers located within walking distance of my home. Less time on public transit. More time in the fresh air. My groovy new green dentist’s office is 12 minutes away via bicycle and 30-40 minutes on foot, depending on how leisurely I feel and how much time I have.

As with each of the modes of transportation I’m considering this week, walking has its pros and cons. PROS:

Although I live in an urban area with shops and services within walking distance, my walk is beautiful. Okay, that’s not fair. I live in California where flowers bloom all year round. But honestly, I can find something interesting to look at wherever I happen to be.

Walking is great exercise. Why would I take the… Read the rest

May 5, 2009

Eco-Driving is great. But how about less driving in the first place?

May is EcoDriving Month. I don’t know who decided this, but it’s fine with me if designating a month will encourage drivers to learn strategies for lessening their fuel consumption and emissions while driving. In fact, EcoDriving USA is an advertiser on Fake Plastic Fish this month. Click the ad on the left sidebar to learn tips for driving and maintaining your car in a conscientious manner.

Keep in mind, however, that EcoDriving USA is a project of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. So while the site gives strategies for better driving, it never mentions the idea of driving less to begin with. Avoiding rapid stops and starts is a good idea. Walking, getting on your bike, or taking public transit are even better.

I’m not here to tell you that driving is bad. I don’t own a car myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t drive occasionally. Some communities are set up for car-free living (like the neighborhood … Read the rest

January 16, 2009

Cutting Waste While Traveling… It’s not so hard.

Aloha from Waikiki! This is my brother David Terry who wanted to help me show you some ways to cut down on waste, plastic, and otherwise while traveling. Displayed are a few essentials that I bring with me everywhere, as well as some things I brought just for the plane.

First, my trusty Klean Kanteen. Yes, you CAN bring an empty Klean Kanteen through security and then fill it up at the drinking fountain in the airport once you get past the guards. This is perfectly legal. The security agents did ask me a couple of times if the bottle was empty, but they didn’t bother looking inside it. And liquids you obtain in the secure area of the airport are never questioned.

But, of course, you can only carry so much water in a Klean Kanteen. This one is 27 ounces. Perhaps I should have borrowed one of Michael’s 40 ouncers.

I also brought my travel mug for coffee throughout my visit. Last year, when I visited my parents here on Oahu, I had no trouble presenting it … Read the rest

July 1, 2008

Check out my brand spankin’ new bike

Okay, it’s not such a great photo of my new bike. But it’s a fabulous pic of Arya praying to Ceiling Cat to please let this be the last time she’s forced to look cute in Beth’s new bike basket.

Here’s me on my new Giant Suede DX W 21-speed women’s bike with upright handlebars and nice wide padded seat. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. A bike I will actually ride.

Yes, I’m all about buying used. When my computer monitor died, I replaced it with a used one. When my hair dryer died, I learned how to fix it. When we’ve needed cat supplies or a kitchen door, we checked out Craigslist and Freecycle and Urban Ore. And I can’t even remember the last time I bought clothes that someone else hadn’t previously worn. But buying a bike was different.

Michael, a former bike messenger and owner of 5 or 6 bikes, has from time to time found used bikes for me and fixed them up. And they would collect … Read the rest

January 29, 2008

Oakland Bag Ban + Send a note to Zip Car!

Here are my friend Nancy, a poor seagull, and I at the Oakland plastic bag ban press conference on the steps of City Hall this morning. (I’ve got to do something about my hair soon! I’m starting to look like one of the Partridge Family boys.) It was a beautiful, sunny day: a reprieve from all the rain we’ve been having.

I thought ABC 7’s coverage of the press conference was disappointing.  They really seem to focus on the plastics industry’s arguments against the ban rather than on promoters’ arguments for it. And reusable bags barely get mentioned at all. Oh well.

On the bright side, businesses such as Whole Foods and City Car Share had representatives who spoke in favor of the ban today. Whole Foods, as you’ve probably already heard, is set to eliminate plastic bags in all of its stores by Earth Day this year.

And City Car Share has begun including reusable bags in all of its cars as a service to members. What… Read the rest