The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Plastic-Free Methods

Ideas for ways to go plastic-free. Not related to one specific product.

August 2, 2015

Homemade Tooth Powder and Facial Scrub Recipes, Sans Plastic Microbeads

Are you still rubbing plastic all over your face?

Since I first reported on microbeads–those tiny bits of plastic added to facial scrubs, toothpaste, and other personal care products–in 2007 and then again in 2013, the NY Times has reported on them, several U.S. states have passed legislation to ban them,  Canada is on the verge of banning them, and the Story of Stuff Project has created a video and campaign to get other states and countries to follow suit.  (Please follow that link, if you haven’t already, to take action and ask your representatives to ban microbeads where you live.)

But the trouble with some of  the proposed legislation is that it allows companies to switch to “biodegradable” plastic microbeads.  That’s a problem because most “biodegradable” plastics will not actually biodegrade in the cold waters of the ocean, making them just as much of a problem as the original… 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 place.  As… Read the rest

April 18, 2014

Learning How to Fix a Broken Zipper Saved My Plastic Backpack

My poor backpack. I’ve been carrying it around for over ten years, and finally, one of the main zippers stopped zipping.

 

Or, I should say, one of the sliders stopped working.  Fortunately, this backpack has two sliders, so I could still close the zipper using the other slider, but I always had to remember which side to zip from so I didn’t accidentally sling the backpack over my back, thinking the zipper was closed, and empty all the contents onto the sidewalk.  No big deal, but I just prayed that the other slider would hold up and keep working.  I had no idea what to do about it, and it seemed stupid to send a perfectly good backpack to the landfill just because of a little thing like a zipper.  Remember… I can still use the plastic I already had before I started this project.  I just can’t buy new plastic.

Fortunately for me and my zipper, the Hercules Library chose my book Plastic-Free for their “Book to Action”… Read the rest

January 20, 2014

Eating Eggshells for Calcium?

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to reduce the number of supplements I take (and hence, supplement packaging) by getting my nutrients from whole foods instead of pills.  So a few weeks ago, I was wondering aloud (apparently, I’ve started talking to myself a lot lately) about how I could get more calcium, and Michael, whose mind goes all sorts of random places, said, “You eat an egg every day.  Why not eat the shell, too?”  He wasn’t serious.  But I wondered if eating eggshells was a thing.  You know, a thing that people do.  So of course, I turned to that trove of wisdom called Google, and lo and behold, there were lots of posts about how to do just that.

Before I go further… once again… I am not a doctor.  I am not suggesting that you or anyone else should eat eggshells.  I’m simply reporting my own experience.

Okay, so first I found this discussion, which lists several different studies… Read the rest

October 15, 2013

Lessons Learned from Failed Plastic Plumbing Repair

I thought this was post was going to be another one of my triumphant reports about how I avoided buying a new plastic gadget because I was able to fix the old one. Like the tale of the rice cooker, or the umbrella, or the laundry basket, or even the washing machine. I imagined how proud and accomplished I would feel to report how instead of replacing my worn out shower head, I had cleaned and repaired it and made it good as new.

Sadly, this is not that post.  No, this post is about trying, failing, and wasting a whole lot of duct tape. But lessons were learned. Possibly. So I’m going to share the experience here anyway.… Read the rest

September 19, 2013

Plastic-Free on Kauai

We’re having a great time on Kaua’i (mosquito bites notwithstanding), and despite the ubiquitous polystyrene foam foodware, we’re discovering some great plastic-free resources.  Upon arrival at our hotel, the concierge handed us a list of farmers markets on the island.

There’s at least one for every day of the week, which means we never have to worry about plastic produce packaging because we brought our own bags.… Read the rest

August 27, 2013

Plastic-Free Burning Man – The List, Part 1

I only had two hours sleep last night after driving 12 hours, but I want to post these pictures and give you the list of ways I’m de-plastifying my Burn this year.

I’m staying with the Earth Guardians… which is part of the Burning Man infrastructure tasked with making the event as green as possible.

If you’re on the playa, stop by and say hi, leave me a message in the little notebook attached to my tent, or come to one of my workshops, either Wednesday at 1 or Saturday at 2.

Here’s the outside view of my little home on the playa:

Tent

The tent is a Springbar Traveler 5, which is made of heavy duty cotton canvas. I put it up this morning with the help of an expert named Kearce. But it was me who pounded all 18 twelve-inch steel stakes into the hard playa.

Here are the pros and cons of a Springbar tent. Pros:

*Mostly heavy duty cotton instead of synthetic material. *Super strong, stable, and durable. According to comments online from Burners,… Read the rest

April 12, 2013

Tips for Creating Zero Waste, Plastic-Free Events

Whenever I give my plastic-free presentation, I’m interested to see what the hosting organization will do to ensure the event itself is as plastic-free as possible.  I try to give tips beforehand so I don’t walk in on a table full of plastic cups (which has happened more than once, ironically.)  But lately, I’ve discovered some really ingenious ideas, some of which I wouldn’t have thought of myself.  Some are about reducing plastic, and some are about reducing waste in general.  So I thought I would share my favorites.

1) Ask attendees to BYO: bring their own reusable cups, bottles, utensils, containers, and even shirt!

Green Sangha’s website announcement of its Plastics 360 event in Lafayette last month included the following:

Refreshments:  Light, earth-friendly snacks will be provided at registration (9:00-9:30 am).  BYO lunch!  We will provide coffee and beverages.  (BYO mug if you can.)

And at the… 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 to make: … 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

Ingredients:

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