The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Acquire Secondhand

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

October 31, 2016

Guest Post: Why I love having to take my stuff to the Transfer Station myself

The following is an email I received from reader Susan Siu about how much she loves having to take her recycling to the local transfer center instead of having curbside pickup.  I loved it so much, I asked her if she would send me pictures and let me post her email here.  Don’t get me wrong:  I still want curbside recycling to be made available so that people who wouldn’t otherwise recycle will comply, but I love her enthusiasm for her local transfer station.  So, please enjoy this post about recycling/reusing in Southern Maine.

Dear Beth,

I LOVE your book and blog! I am a small-scale vegetarian organic homesteader in Southern Maine currently in the process of going zero-waste and plastic-free, and your book has been extremely helpful as well as fascinating. I have been watching many of your film/video recommendations with my kids, and they are sharing what they’ve learned with all their friends.

After reading your story… Read the rest

December 14, 2014

GreenCitizen does more than recycle your e-waste

I first learned about GreenCitizen several years ago when I was trying to figure out what to do with old CDs and DVDs.  Since then, Michael and I have taken several dead gadgets to them: our old rice cooker, our old blender, and some obsolete computer equipment.  So I was excited to take a tour of GreenCitizen’s hub in Burlingame this weekend and have a chat with founder and CEO James Kao.

Kao was born in Taiwan and graduated from UCLA in 1982 with a degree in math and computer science.  He went on to get an MBA and work for companies like HP, IBM, and Oracle as a software engineer.  As a guy with an engineering mindset, he’s all about solving problems.  So, after seeing a short film called “Exporting Harm: The High Tech Trashing of Asia” about e-waste pollution overseas, he set out to create a solution.

GreenCitizen is more than a recycling center for e-waste.  Kao wants to rethink the idea of waste in the first … Read the rest

November 23, 2012

Black Friday: To Buy or Not to Buy?

I’ve got a conundrum.  It’s Black Friday, the day in the U.S. when the holiday shopping frenzy officially begins.  Environmentalists decry this day of conspicuous consumption, advocating Buy Nothing Day instead.  And normally, I would be one of them.  But this year, I actually have something to sell:  my book.  In fact, I’ve planned a super cute gift pack with a copy of Plastic-Free, a copy of the Bag It DVD (which is packaged in a paper pulp case), and a cute reusable cotton gift bag from Green Planet Parties.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it), I can’t sell this to you today because demand for the book has been so high, it’s sold out!  The publisher ordered a second printing, but it has been delayed.   The books were supposed to have arrived in the warehouse several weeks ago, but so far, no books.  (Keeping my fingers crossed for this week!)

Now, I have a confession… Read the rest

October 2, 2012

The Reuse Alliance Wants You to Talk Like a Pirate

I realize  Talk Like a Pirate Day is over for 2012, but there’s a certain piraty expression that’s good all year round:  Arrr!  According to the official website, it means “variously, ‘yes,’ ‘I agree,’ ‘I’m happy,’ ‘I’m enjoying this beer,’ ‘My team is going to win it all,’ ‘I saw that television show, it sucked!’ and ‘That was a clever remark you or I just made.'”  But that definition fails to mention that Arrr! also sounds like “R,” the first letter of a string of very important words… words with which the Reuse Alliance would like us to become intimate and in particular, the “R” that comes before “Recycle”:  Reuse.

What is the Reuse Alliance?

“Reuse” encompasses a whole lot more “R”s, which I plan to have fun with in this post.  … Read the rest

March 29, 2012

How to Make a Cat Climbing Tree Without Buying Any New Plastic Materials

Several months ago, blogger EcoCatLady left a comment on this blog about how she had avoided buying new plastic when her kitties needed a climbing tree by figuring out how to build one herself with all secondhand materials. She wrote:

My most recent success was that I wanted to get my kids (meaning kids of the feline variety) a scratching/climbing kitty tree for Christmas. I initially was going to buy one, and I found them online pretty cheap… but the more I researched, the more I discovered that anything which cost under $400 was made from plastic PVC pipe. So instead of bringing more plastic crap into the world, I made a kitty tree from scrap lumber I had in my garage and some carpet scraps that I got on FreeCycle. I know in the broad scheme of things it’s not much, but it’s something… and something I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about before reading Beth’s blog.

Being the mom of a couple of fun-deprived kitty… Read the rest

November 29, 2010

Good-Bye Toshiba Laptop. Hello Secondhand Sony Vaio.

Dear Toshiba Satellite S105 Laptop Computer:

I’m sorry I never gave you a better name in the 9 years that we were together. I was so sad last week when I traded you in at CeX in Berkeley for a bigger, faster, more powerful computer. For a second, I thought I might jump across the counter and grab you back from that sales dude who was checking all your buttons and parts to make sure you worked okay. I don’t think anyone else has had their hands on you except for Michael maybe and that computer doctor I brought you to a few times when you crashed. See? I loved you. I didn’t toss you away like most people would after two years.

With you, I learned to blog and create web sites and little Flash videos. Remember that stupid animation we made back in 2003 where we knocked off the Governator’s head with a baseball bat? Good times. And better — you were there when Michael and I got married. You helped me make the DVDs we inflicted on our friends and… Read the rest

February 25, 2009

Mowing My Weeds: Why Buy When You Can Borrow?

This was our postage stamp-sized front yard on Saturday. Michael and I thought it was pretty. But I was concerned that neighbors would report it as a hazard. The flowers weeds were over a foot tall and harboring who knows what furry little beings. Something had to be done, and I was not ready to pull it up and start our veggie garden.

I decided to just mow the weeds and leave some green. But we don’t own a lawn mower. Remembering my success with the Craigslist crockpot, I once again subscribed to a Craigslist search, this time for “push mower.” But after several weeks without success, I decided to just go ahead and buy a new one. Michael, bless his conscientiously frugal heart, talked me out of it. “Beth,” he said, “How often do we ever have to mow? You’re going to buy a mower for the one time a year when we actually have rain and the plants grow by themselves?”

He was right. Still, I didn’t want to pull … Read the rest

February 4, 2009

What a crock!

As you know, I’m trying not to buy new plastic. But so many people have recommended crockpot cooking as a timesaving way to prepare healthy meals, that I finally decided to take the plunge. Still, I didn’t buy new plastic. I found a used crockpot for $10 on Craigslist! The seller lived within walking distance, so I picked it up this morning on my way to work.

Do you use a crockpot? Do you enjoy it? What are your favorite recipes? I’m looking for recipes using plastic-free ingredients (whole veggies, grains from the bulk bins, meat from the butcher that I buy using my own container, etc.) that I can throw into the pot and forget about for a few hours.

Do you use your crockpot for anything unusual? Let me know. I really want this thing to get some use and not just sit on the counter and look pretty.… Read the rest

December 27, 2007

Kitty Love, by Soots & Arya

Okay, here’s the thing. We are Soots and Arya, and we don’t like to be awoken suddenly from our nice nap by some big flashing, bright light. So we give you face like this. Not our fault. We are infinitely cute, as you will see.

Beth woke us up to help with her blog because, as she said, it was our fault that she was having too much fun with us to blog for the last few days. Wait, did she say fun? Maybe she said she was too tired from chasing us off her desk all day. When she gets cranky, she tosses us across the floor, but we know she doesn’t mean it so we keep coming back again to cheer her up.

Our new friend David came over tonight and taught us how to do an immensely fun thing. We have expert skills of climbing and this proves that we will soon make it to the top of the drapes, which is the goal of our lives. David says that this activity doesn’t hurt humans long as they’re wearing heavy jeans. Beth doesn’t wear heavy jeans. Oh well.

I am Soots… Read the rest