June 15, 2009

FPF Anniversary! Year 2, Week 51 & 52 Results: 6.9 oz of plastic waste

It’s Fake Plastic Fish’s 2-Year anniversary of collecting trash. Plastic trash. I’m planning to change things up a little after today, but here is the tally for the last two weeks.

Plastic used up this week but purchased before the plastic project began:

  • 1 bottle Woolite plus cap. We’ve had this bottle for over two years and finally used it up. It will not be replaced. I’ve got info on plastic-free laundry products coming up in a blog post this week.
  • 1 bottle of Shout stain remover plus sprayer. Just like above, we’ve had this stuff for over two years and finally used it up. Will write about plastic-free stain removal this week as well. And I plan to reuse this bottle for the homemade air freshener I’m going to make when our current bottle of natural citrus air freshener runs out. (That bottle unfortunately can’t be refilled.)
  • 1 nasty chewed up synthetic sponge. We are using up a few more synthetic sponges for yucky jobs, but mostly use Skoy cloths now. See link below for info on Skoy.
  • 1 travel size bottle of hairspray plus sprayer. I don’t use hairspray anymore and haven’t since reading about all the toxic chemicals in personal care products (see below). But this has been sitting in the cabinet and I used it up this week trying to get paint off a sweatshirt. (It didn’t really work.)
  • 1 used up ball point pen. I mostly use pencils and a refillable fountain pen. (Info on fountain pen below.) But I’ll still grab the occasional disposable pen from our stash when I need something fast, and this one died this week.
  • 1 plastic bag of Trader Joe’s walnuts. Yes, this had been sitting in our freezer for over two years, and Michael finally added it to some banana bread last week. We now buy nuts from the bulk bins at Whole Foods and Berkeley Bowl with our own containers.
  • Plastic window from a box of cheap steel wool soap pads. I hate these things and rarely use them because they rust so fast. We finally used them up this week. I now use Chore Boy copper scrubbers instead, which come in a cardboard box with zero plastic and last a much longer time.

New plastic waste:

  • 7 plastic envelope windows. From Financial West Group (4), ING Direct, Franchise Tax Board, & GE. One of the Financial West Group envelopes is a proxy voting ballot for Winslow Green Funds, which now offers all their paperwork electronically. So I have made the switch this week and should have reduced this paper/plastic by at least one. The GE mailing list is another one I can remove myself from. Everything else is unavoidable at this point.
  • 2 plastic wrappers from Financial West Group. These are those biodegradable plastic wrappers I talked about a few weeks ago. One is from Winslow Green and shouldn’t come anymore. They are both made from petroleum-based plastics, so are added to the tally. Follow the link below to learn more.
  • Timing chip & 2 plastic ties from Bay to Breakers. These should have been added to the tally last time, but I forgot to take it off of my shoe. More on plastic running chips below.
  • Plastic packing tape. From a case of wine I received from a friend.
  • Piece of tape from a bar of handmade soap. Another of the bars we bought in Santa Cruz a few weeks ago.
  • 2 doses of Frontline flea treatment for the cats. Read about the Frontline saga below.

So, I end Year 2 with a bang. Next week begins Year 3. But I don’t think I’m going to post a tally every week. As you’ve seen, I haven’t actually been doing it weekly for the last couple of months, and I’d like the flexibility to post other kinds of things on Mondays. But I still think the tally is useful and valuable. So I’m going to switch to a monthly report. I’ll still collect it all, but I’ll only post it here once a month.

How are you guys doing on your own plastic challenges? A few more people have added their tallies to the Challenge Web Site. Please visit and give them your feedback!

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Err, that's a Lamy Safari plus an ink converter, obviously!

The converters cost about $5, you only need to buy one. It lets you refill your Lamy Safari from a bottle of ink, rather than wasting all those cartridges.

I just sat down to refill my Safari, and realized I'd forgot to mention the converter in my earlier comment!

(These days I'm smitten with Pelikan Brilliant Black.)

John costigane

Hi Beth,

Congratulations on ending your second year, especially with only a third of the first years tally. My second year is also well below the first so far. The beauty is that waste only goes one way as we find better alternatives for more and more items of waste.

Over here with the current PFI funded EfW push, an answer to it is – if you do not have waste, they cannot burn it!


Happy Anniversary, FPF!!! You are Awesome as in full of awe and then some! Love, Judy


o so dat wuz wut u wer doing 2 us w/ litl green thingz we wuz wondring kthxbai


You truly are an inspiration! Well done on your marvelous efforts!


Yes! I was actually to recommend the Lamy Safari fountain pen. They cost about $25.00, and come in a bunch of different colors and nib sizes. I have the yellow one, with an extra fine nib. I love it so much! It’s really easy to refill, and it feels really nice in the hand.

I know a lot of people get worried about buying a $100 pen, because they’re afraid they will lose it. At $25.00, it’s not the end of the world if it goes missing.

Pure Mothers

Changing to monthly makes sense for you because you don't have that much plastic trash anymore – YAY! We are doing pretty good at our house. We use Charlie's laundry soap that comes in a cloth bag and I asked them to leave out the plastic scoop. It did have a little plastic tie at the top of the bag though. I wonder if I can get Taylor to change that out. I tried the soap nuts but doesn't work well on really dirty clothes. I have had success asking vendors to use no plastic packing materials. I've also made… Read more »


Have you tired diatomaceous earth for flea control? I know several animal rescuers in southern states that swear by it. Here's a link… it's packaged in plastic, so you'll want to look for another supplier, but it gives a great overview of the stuff:


Hi Beth, I just want to tell you I just read your "how I got here" post from 2007 and I really relate as now that I have opened my eyes, I find it hard to believe that no one else is seeing what I am seeing, and I can't even really pinpoint the moment my paradigm shifted, but my whole way of doing things has changed in the last three months. I find your blog really inspiring and I get a lot of great ideas here. Thanks for being a pioneer, and helping turn the light on so we… Read more »


Beth, The best stain removers that I've found (as the mother of two preschoolers) are hydrogen perioxide and Dr. Bronner's 18-in-1 liguid soap. Haven't tried the bar soap yet. I keep the liquid soap diluted to right strength for hand washing so the little ones just need to rinse when finished washing their hands. The peppermint is great for cleaning up stinky messes — somehow the peppermint smell drowns out the nasty smells. As you can tell we are not as far along the less plastic life as you are. We use Frontline as well because otherwise our poor dog… Read more »


Good job, Beth!

I know you said you weren't using steel wool pads anymore, but for those who do have them and want them to last a little longer — just put them in the freezer in between uses. They won't rust and defrost quickly under hot water.

Lara S.

Happy anniversary, FPF! :)
Your input makes a difference, Beth!

Condo Blues

Congratulations Beth! I kept our plastic for a week and posted my results today http://www.condoblues.com/2009/06/show-us-your-trash-plastic-challenge.html.


Congratulations, Beth! Keep up the great work.

Do you have an estimate of how much plastic you might have used during the two years if you had not changed anything versus what you actually used? I think it would be an interesting exercise if you haven't done it already.


Congratulations on your 2nd anniversary! You truly inspire me, and I am sure countless others. As far as my own plastic challenge, I may try another week. This time thinking of alterntives and reuse and reduction. As far as frontline- I feel your pain. I use frontline as well. It's nice to have flea free kitty and puppy.


Very impressive Beth — I did this for three weeks (posted two on the blog but haven't gotten around to the third) and that was enough for a while. I want to revisit in a few months to see if there is any real change.
Progress of a sort though, I found a local collection point for plastics 3-7 and unlabeled – only 1& 2 are collected curbside. I'm going to give it a try.


I love reading your thoughts on products that are plastic-free. Please keep up those reviews!

Lisa Sharp

Congrats Beth!!!