November 16, 2008

A Teaser, a Contest, an Announcement, & Year 2, Week 22 Results: 1.0 oz of plastic waste.

Like last week, I have a bunch of business before the tally.

Take Back the Filter badgeTeaser: Brita’s going to take back and recycle their pitcher filter cartridges!

I received a phone call on Friday (while hanging out at the SF Green Festival) from Drew McGowan, Brita brand manager, alerting me that Brita will indeed begin taking back and recycling pitcher filters beginning in January!

He sent me a copy of the full press release with details, but I’ve promised not to reveal specifics until Tuesday. What I will tell you is that they seem to have incorporated almost all the elements of our petition in coming up with a solution that keeps jobs here in the U.S. and doesn’t rely on shipping the plastic off to China.

Please visit our Take Back The Filter campaign web page on Tuesday for full details of the program. And you can stop sending us your filters. Hooray! Hold onto them until January, when you’ll be able to send them in directly for recycling.

Now… we just have to work on Pur and all the other water filter companies…

Contest: What’s wrong with this picture?

This is the waste station at the SF Green Festival this weekend: bins for garbage (landfill), compost (the green bin), recycling, and liquids. It’s typical of all the stations throughout the event, and there’s one thing that doesn’t seem right about it. Can you tell what it is? I’ll be posting about the Green Festival on Wednesday or Thursday and will discuss this issue. The person who guesses correctly will receive a copy of the Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A Do-It-Ourselves Guide, by Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew. If there is more than one correct answer, I’ll choose randomly.

Announcements: A Carnival and a Conference Call

Come back tomorrow for the 154th Carnival of the Green hosted right here on Fake Plastic Fish.

Then, this Thursday, November 20: Pandora’s Plastic Box – A Conference Call For All.

Healthy Child Healthy World will be hosting the first in a monthly series of conference calls on health and environmental issues. This Thursday, the theme is plastic:

Join us for an open, non-judgmental conversation about plastics (we all have our Achilles’ Heel). Janelle from Healthy Child Healthy World will be giving a quick background on the issue; Jennifer from The Smart Mama will share her Journey to Glass; Jeremiah from ZRecs will talk about assessing the risks and benefits of plastics, and how bloggers can influence corporate behavior and affect change in the marketplace; and Beth from Fake Plastic Fish will discuss the impacts on the environment and living without.

I hope many of you will be able to join in the call to listen and discuss! Here’s the call info:

When: November 20, 10am PST
Dial: (218) 339-3600
Access Code: 1036416#

The Tally:

Plastic items used this week but acquired before the plastic project began:

  • 1 more dirty, scrungy, chewed up synthetic sponge. At the point they start falling apart and little pieces of plastic sponge wash down the drain, it’s time to put them to rest.

New plastic waste:

    • 1 plastic pizza thingie from the previous week. FPF reader Froghair took issue with my statement last week that planned to return this thing to the pizzeria and ask them to reuse it. She wrote, “Pardon my skepticism, but do you really think the pizza place is just going to pop that plastic thingie back in their bin and reuse it? Frankly, I hope not, because that’s got to be a health code infraction, even if it is washed.” She’s probably right. So, into Plastic Purgatory it goes, and I will just have to be more conscientious about remembering to request no plastic in the middle of my pizza!


    • 1 plastic RX bottle and cap. From Kaiser. We can’t return them to be refilled here.


  • Wrapper from a Kaiser plastic pill cutter. My doctor gave it to me. I wouldn’t normally have accepted it. And in fact, when the pharmacist has tried to give me a plastic pill cutter in the past, I’ve refused, saying that I’m perfectly capable of cutting a pill with a sharp knife. But when my doctor and I decided that I need only be taking 1/4 of the sleeping pill I use occasionally, I realized a knife was not going to do it. The pills are very small. I really don’t think I can cut them into quarters with a kitchen knife without ending up with a powdery mess. So I accepted this chunk of plastic and its wrapper with a sigh. We do what we can and then…


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Lara S
15 years ago

Hi Beth,
I think what’s wrong ith the picture is that the Landfill’s can plastic bag is not IN the can… I mean it seems to be in the back of it.
Anyway, I’d like to point out that the plastic bags are unnecessary and shouldn’t be there (compostable or not… it’s a waste). Other readers mentioned that already.
Congratulations on the Brita filters campaign! You’re inspiring!
Get well soon!

Lara S.

15 years ago

It almost looks as though the plastic liners are covering the compost and recycling bin. But that could be my eyes playing tricks on me.

15 years ago

OK, I’ll shoot:

1. Is it the rubber bands around the bags holding them in place, even ater they are knotted to stay in place?

2. Echoing another commenter – although I think this is reaching – the compost sign is covered by the plastic bag.

3. This is also reaching, but are the signs laminated?

Hell, I think they’re all a reach, but I’m interested in what is wrong.

[As an aside, I’ve filled out the word verification correctly 3 times and it’s not accepting it. It’s a tad annoying.]

15 years ago

That’s pretty cool about the Brita filters. Good job!

Ken O
15 years ago

those cart liners are biodegradable material. the only plastic in the photo are the carts themselves.

what would you make the carts from… wood?

Green Bean
15 years ago

It’s the plastic bags isn’t it? That’s what’s wrong. Right.

15 years ago

The first thing that I noticed about the bins, is that the plastic bag is covering the compost label, so that users may miss it and just throw their compostables away.

I have been reading your blog for quite a while, and never posted a comment. Congratulations on the Take back the filter campaign. It is so wonderful to see that your hard work has paid off for all of us. You voice is making a really big difference.

Cheap Like Me
15 years ago

Oh, who knows what’s wrong, but I would think at least the landfill and liquids containers should be swapped. So odd. I’ve never seen a liquids one before. If only all those containers were made of sterilizable glass. :)

Beth Terry
15 years ago

Hint: it does have to do with the bin liners. But look at them very closely. Here’s the large size photo in case you can’t see what I mean from the small one:

There actually were kids at most stations helping people choose the right bins. This one just happened not to have anyone there when I took the photo.

The sizes of the bins were not really an issue because, like I said, there were kids at most stations directing people what to put where. So keep looking at and thinking about the bin liners.

Crafty Green Poet
15 years ago

well in the Uk we’d have bins for different types of recyclables, eg cans, plastics, glass.

15 years ago

Oh my gosh…. FPF asks such a silly question “what’s wrong with this picture”. Silly, silly Beth it’s the plastic linings of course. AND I didn’t need to read the posts to get it. lol…..Great readers and great posts as to the many things wrong.
Really I wanted to say ‘CONGRATULATIONS ON THE TAKE BACK THE FILTER CAMPAGNE’ success. If anyone could do it that would be you and your team. Way to go Beth!!!!


15 years ago

Why even have a landfill container? If it’s for refuse produced at the event everything should fit into recycle or compost categories- or they should rethink their use of packaging at a “Green Festival”.

15 years ago

How about being a zero waste event and having nothing going to the landfill?

ruchi aka arduous
15 years ago

I think the landfill container is rather large since there should be very little that needs to be landfilled. In one of the buildings here at school, the landfill bin is called “non-recyclables.” It does create some confusion because people aren’t used to seeing trash labled that way, but I guess the idea is to make people think more about what is recyclable and what isn’t before throwing stuff away.

As to what else is wrong with the picture, my guess is the plastic bin liners. BUT, I am going to say, if there weren’t plastic bin liners, that creates a lot of work for the poor cleaning person stuck cleaning those bins. It is not easy getting the smell out of those plastic bins after they’ve been festering all day especially if it’s sunny. And we all know that that cleaning lady (because it is a woman) is being paid next to nothing anyway. There’s got to be a better solution than plastic bin liners, but hopefully there’s one that doesn’t add a whole lot of smelly gross work for the person who has to inevitably clean those cans.

Di Hickman
15 years ago

1) The liners don’t look like compostable bags.
2) for a green convention that land waste bin looks too big? surely they wouldn’t need one that big? The landfill bin shouldn’t really have a need at all should it?
3) recycle and compostables don’t need a liner anyway. Our recycle plants asks they not be in liners, and for composting you’d want to mix the items up anyway.
4) the liquids bin doesn’t seem very big? That’s not going to hold much before it’s full.

15 years ago

Here’s my take on what’s wrong with this picture: The Landfill container should be the smallest container of the bunch. Congratulations on all your hard work on a successful drive to get Brita filters recycled by the parent company!

15 years ago

Hi Beth,

There was a report this morning on the Today Show about a bottled water company in Iceland that allegedly is the “worlds first carbon-neutral bottled water” ::snort:: Really?

I wonder how a bottled water from Iceland and shipped to the US can be carbon-neutral. Also, Al Roker said that the bottles and labels are recyclable but are they made from recycled material to begin with? There are many more issues that this report brings up for me but I’m wondering what you think… Although I’m sure I can guess.



15 years ago

strange to have plastic bags lining the recycling bin (especially since plastic bags usually clog the recycling machinery). don’t really need a plastic bag for compost either, but maybe they have no way to wash the can out afterwards? not sure what is up with the teeny tiny “liquids” can!

Anarres Natural Health
15 years ago

A depressing note on "compostable" plastic bags:

It's my understanding that these bags are made from bits of petroleum plastic glued together with compostable starches. So when the starches break down, the plastic bits are released in tiny bits, ready for wildlife consumption. They hasten the poisoning of the water table and the food chain. So I liken these bags to scatter bombs.

PLA plastic by Nature Works, the friendly sibbling of the monster corporation Cargill, is made from GMO corn, and does not break down in the landfill. It only composts in industrial facilities.

So there are no compostable plastic garbage bags.

The little bags that I use break down in the presence of soil organisms in 60-90 days, but they are not strong enough to hold garbage, nor are they approved for commercial food packaging.

Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

Anarres Natural Health
15 years ago

What's wrong with this picture?

1. plastic liners

2. compost and recycling bins should be much larger than the landfill bin

3. liquids should be compostable, unless festival goers are changing the oil in their cars

4. I'd like the order of bins to be, in case people are filing past them 1)compost 2)recycling 3)landfill

5. explanatory diagrams and signs in English and Spanish would probably help.

I was at a conference this weekend on social entrepreneurship. My very nice, very intelligent driver grabbed a paper plate, got distracted, then threw it out unused. Everyone was in a suit and I was worried about looking like an un-hygenic monster, but I immediately retrieved the plate, used it for my daughter and myself, then put it in the compost waste bin when I was finished.

I preached the gospel of a world without plastic waste all weekend. I exhibited my products in their glass, metal and vegetable cellulose packaging glory. I proudly displayed my Fake Plastic Fish entry first among my press copies. People are kind, and young people have better recycling habits than my generation, but it’s still news to most people that we face a Plastic Apocalypse.

Thanks for everything, Beth. With the success of the Take Back the Brita Campaign, you have changed the world once more.

Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

15 years ago

Congratulations, Beth! I saw on Treehugger that your Take Back the Filter crusade worked!

knutty knitter
15 years ago

ewww……all those huge plastic bin liners – hope they are compostable!

viv in nz

15 years ago

I distinctly remember a sort of game that showed up in the paper when I was younger…you stacked them, perhaps? I tried looking for the link, but I couldn’t find it.

Maybe your cats would like playing with it?

15 years ago

Here is what I see wrong with the photo:

1) What appears to be non-recyclable plastic bags lining the recyclables and compost bins.

2) A “liquids” bin without a liner (but I guess it could be washed)

and lastly, but this might be a stretch: Why aren’t there pictures to help people understand what is or isn’t recyclable?

I went to a UC Berkeley tailgate recently, and they are trying to be more environmentally conscious with their waste. Nevertheless, I saw plenty of food and compostable cups in the landfill trash. Probably because people were a) unaware of what is compostable and b) oblivious to the different cans. A few signs or a person manning the cans would have made a big difference.