May 19, 2008

Week 48 Results: 5.9 oz of plastic waste

Sunny is the winner of last week’s contest to answer the question of why organic bananas come with a little piece of plastic around the stems but non-organic bananas do not. She wrote:

Beth, from this website ) I think it’s to prevent mold.

“Organic bananas now come from wholesalers with a sticky plastic wrapping the cut stem to protect the bananas from a black mold.[5] The mold is controlled on non-organic bananas by dipping the cut ends in a fungicide.”

I wanted to check out this answer for myself before awarding the prize, so I sent an email to Dole’s customer service asking the question, and they responded thus:

To: Beth Terry
Subject: Dole Contact Us Response, Reference #001147431A
Date: Thu, 15 May 2008 17:57:49 -0400

Dear Ms. Terry,

Thank you for contacting us. The plastic cover seals the surface of the cut-crown on the top of the cluster to protect the quality and the health of the crown. The air-tight parafilm seal helps maintain the products freshness and quality appeal.

We appreciate your interest in Dole Food Company. We’re glad to provide the information you requested and hope it is useful.

It’s been a pleasure to help you.


Dole Consumer Response Staff
001147431A / DCR/cl

From Dole’s answer and from Sunny’s research, it sounds like the plastic is used on organic bananas because they can’t be dipped into the usual chemicals that regular bananas are dipped in. Michael says he once heard, in fact, that you shouldn’t peel a non-organic banana and then touch the inside fruit with your hands because the pesticides will rub off onto the fruit you are going to eat. Scary, huh?

So Sunny, please e-mail me your mailing address and let me know which prize you want, Sierra Club’s Hey Mr. Green or the Ridley plastic bag carrier.

All right, here’s last week’s tally. It’s a big one! Items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began:

  • 2 strips of tape pulled off boxes we used to make signs for the Bay to Breakers yesterday. Yep. It happened! I got two very enthusiastic volunteers, Tanya and Christa, to march with me in the Bay to Breakers, so I did have to walk across SF dressed as a BRITA filter after all. Tanya and Christa made their own costumes and we all carried signs and handed out flyers. It was an awesome day, and I’ll post pictures as soon as I get them from Christa’s camera.
  • A huge hunk of duct tape from costume-making session. We already had this tape, so I figured I’d use it. Turns out duct tape isn’t good for everything, as some people like to think. It pulled up off the cardboard, and I ended up replacing it with brown paper tape, which worked just fine. Wish I’d known that ahead of time and not wasted all this crazy duct tape, which I guess should be saved for, um, ducts.

New plastic waste purchased and generated last week:

  • 2 plastic tubs (#5 plastic) and two lids (#4 plastic) from Indian take-out. Michael asked before picking up this food if they could serve it in cardboard boxes rather than plastic. They assured him they would. Imagine his surprise when he picked up these two plastic containers. “Oh, we didn’t know you meant everything.” My lesson: Give up the freakin’ take-out. The convenience is not worth the waste anyway, plastic or otherwise.
  • 1 piece of plastic from another bunch of organic bananas. See above.
  • Plastic bag from a gift of Scharffen Berger truffles from friends. I think our friends actually received these chocolates from another friend and then passed some on to us. Still, we are the final recipients of the plastic bag, so it goes into my tally.
  • 2 straws from a cup of coffee from The Mint. We went to The Mint Karaoke Lounge after the Bay to Breakers to hang out and celebrate. Who would have thought they’d put bar straws into plain old coffee?
  • 1 plastic wrap from a 24-pack of Instinct canned cat food. I have been researching homemade cat food, but I came to a road block this past week. A vet referred me to the nutrition clinic at the U.C. Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hopital. They specialize in homemade diets for animals. But the nutritionist I spoke with said they will not recommend a homemade diet for animals under one year old because it’s hard to meet all their nutritional needs when they are that young. She recommended I stick with the commercial cat food for another few months and then call them again.

    So what do you think? We’re feeding them cat food from all these cans every day, cans which are lined with BPA and which must be recycled. We can’t feed them dry food because every time we try they get diarrhea, no matter what brand. (And believe me, we have tried many many brands, including Pet Promise, Wellness, Instinct, Nutro, Hills, and others.) I’d like to make their food, but the nutritionist has me worried that I might not give them everything they need. I’m at a stand-still at this point.

That’s it for last week. Can’t wait to show you the pictures from yesterday and break some more exciting news from the Take Back The Filter campaign!

P.S. Michael broke his last year’s Bay to Breakers record with a time of 55:29! He placed 582 out of 22,439 finishers! I was not one of those finishers, as our little group made a detour at around Mile 6 and headed for the costume contest and Polish sausages. We all have different priorities, right?

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23 Comments on "Week 48 Results: 5.9 oz of plastic waste"

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I have no research backing this up but egg yolks are a great first food for infants along with mashed meat. I am not sure why this wouldn’t also be good for a kitten. We have been feeding our kitten somewhat off of our table. I always make extra scrambled eggs for him and take them out when they are really soft. I also give him raw a cooked ground beef and chicken when I am making dinner. He loves little pieces of sliced turkey lunch meat and pieces of cheddar cheese. We have not had any diarrhea problems.

“I wish I had a fake plastic fish to put in the shipment as well…it would be like the mark of Zorro (anybody remember him?).”

No, but I sure do remember Catherine Vida Jones!!

Beth, For feeding your cats you might want to contact Dr. Lisa Pierson. I use her recipe to feed my cats (including two starting when they were 7 months old). I got my vet to approve the recipe and both the youngsters are hale and hearty at almost 2 years old now. I’ve emailed her a couple of times and she is always kind and responsive. I’ve gone through the diabetes nightmare with my oldest that I lost a couple of years ago. I can say categorically he was a diabetic becuase we did not know better and raised… Read more »
Mind, Body, Spirit, Health

About the cat food. Cats are carnivores, strictly. Try just feeding them meat. Chicken, Fish, Beef. No pork. Hard on the liver. Then give them some cat greens (you can grow them from seed really easily in a pot) and they should respond well. Meat is all the nutrition any cat who is weaned should need. Unlike humans, who are frugivores technically but omnivores practically.

Mind, Body, Spirit, Health
AFter reading your blog today (and the one of 365 days of trash, I emailed four companies, all of whom are purveyors of organic foods: Whole Foods Market, EarthFare, Garner’s Natural Foods and Stonyfield Farms. I wrote basically the same thing to them all: I started shopping at EarthFare when I moved to Greenville a few years ago. It was great to find your store close to where I lived that offered the products I like – organic, environmentally friendly, etc. Over the years I have shopped at many natural/organic groceries and I feel it is my way of voting… Read more »
I use the dry food from our neighborhood pet store (the one across from the horrible Wendy’s and the delightful Sabuy Sabuy) – called “Premium Edge.” I only give the boys wet food on occasion — they have great fur and are very fit. I measure exactly how much they get (though morning foods are getting earlier and earlier as they think I needs waking 2 hours before sunrise). No live prey for my kitties – there is a reason that feral cats who eat nothing but live prey have very short lifespans. The average housecat can expect to live… Read more »

Hey! the FDA says bisphenol A is OK! Phew! I was worried there for a while. But if the completely objective, well-staffed FDA says so, it must be true!

Hi Beth,

I would get an opinion from another vet about the homemade food. It is possible he/she was worried that the kitties may not get important nutrients that are added to the premade food.

Also check out the Cornell Feline Health Center at

You may find some useful info or links.

Treat the diarrhea seriously though!
Do they eat any treats that might cause diarrhea?
You may want to keep them on the food that works until they are older and then try experimenting with homemade/whole/raw food. Remember to introduce new foods slowly!

Good luck!

So they apparently started the cleanup after the Bay to Breakers a little early for some people’s tastes. But here’s the really sad part (quoting from the above-linked article): “Many entrepreneurial passers-by were filling shopping trolleys with empty bottles and cans as The City’s cleanup crews drew near, but much of the recyclable material that the passers-by missed was crushed along with unrecyclable trash in dump trucks. Golden Gate Disposal and Recycling Co. set up recycling points along the route, according to general manager Maurice Quillen. He said event organizers were responsible for making sure waste was sorted properly, and… Read more »

My huggybear ordered some underwear from and each brief arrived with a small plastic hanger and wrapped in plastic. After unpacking everything I piled the plastic in a heap on the floor and took a picture. I’m sending the plastic hangers back along with the picture and a request that they back off on the plastic.

I wish I had a fake plastic fish to put in the shipment as well…it would be like the mark of Zorro (anybody remember him?).

Ask yourself this:

What did cats eat 10,000 years ago?

How about 1,000 years ago?

How about 100 years ago?

Cats obviously thrive on a natural diet. Food from a can or bag is not natural or nutritious. When you feed a whole prey diet ALL nutrient requirements are met.

It’s kind of like Dr.’s saying that babies can’t get all of their nutritional requirements from breastmilk so they should get formula – huh?!!

Watch the video here:

Dr Do More

Good Luck,

p.s. I’m a linking fool thanks to you!!

Anarres Natural Health
Hi Beth and FPFishers, I got doored by a truck on my bike in early April, and wrecked my pelvis, so I have been house bound and without earnings since. I was given $250 worth of gift certificates to regular grocery stores, so I did my first regular grocery store shop this past weekend with a friend who has a car. Horrors! Everything came in plastic! The only things I could get that were not in plastic were soymilk in wax board cartons, eggs, bread and maple syrup. I had them put my daughter’s ration of deli ham in a… Read more »
Two things on the cat food. First, I want to second the advice to move to dry food slowly. Any change to an animals diet should be done slowly. We even did that when transitioning our cats to prescription diets they had to have. We did it 1/4 of the food at a time. So 1/4 new, 3/4 old for a week. Then 1/2 and 1/2, then you get the picture. BTW, our cats have always had all dry food, even the males with crystals in their urine. They have to have an Rx diet because of it and we… Read more »

Dude, you gotta love a race that serves polish sausages at mile 6! How far along were the kegs? Mile 6 1/2?

Congrats to both you and Michael for your Bay to Breakers endeavor!

LOL I woulda taken the detour and the polish sausages- I just cant say no to good sausage. Cant wait for pics of the lifesize brita triplets

Although I’ve never heard of dry food giving cats diarrhea (usually it’s wet food) you might be able to ween them off of wet food by slowly mixing in dry food, progressively adding more dry and less wet, to give their digestive systems time to adapt. Most sources will tell you though that you should still feed your kitties wet food at least once a week (especially males) to keep their urinary tract healthy. You also might try growing some wheatgrass for them to munch on. It has a soothing effect on kitty-tummies. My cat used to have a serious… Read more »

Yes, it was House of Curries on College, by the Elmwood. They are quite separate from Naan ‘n’ Curry – a dispute among the owners resulted in a split, with each side taking some restaurants and continuing to expand. But quite good, and cheap!

I had the paper-box-with-shrinkwrap experience at Tandoori House on Telegraph at Parker. And the sauce oozed all over the place nevertheless. But still quite good and cheap as well!

“I’d like to make their food, but the nutritionist has me worried that I might not give them everything they need. I’m at a stand-still at this point.”

Why not go natural? Buy a BIG box, buy mice, capture the kitties, throw mice and kitties in the box. They can hone their natural instincts to stalk and kill, improve their diet AND give you the opportunity to capture some neat video. You might even interest National Geographic Channel to show them!

Hi Beth-

In response to your take out dilemna, have you tried bringing your own containers? Especially with Indian food as it is v. greasy and even when requested in plastic boxes they tend to go overboard wrapping it in cling wrap! At least that has been my experience… The only problem with bringing your own containers is it puts a damper on delivery! :(

Lauren, I think they are! Michael placed the order and picked up the food, so I’ll have to check with him. But I think that’s where they’re from — the one on College Ave.

Let me know if you have any success with them. We really should just go out for dinner there and eat on real plates instead of bringing it home.


Those tubs wouldn’t happen to be from House of Curries AKA Naan n’ Curry?

I’m on a mission to get them to package my food in cardboard. I just can’t let go of Indian takeout altogether yet.

I’m glad you got to walk with some help. I’m sure it got a lot of attention for a good cause. I can’t wait to see photos!