Posts Tagged ‘plastic’

On Friday I made a cake and two pies for A’s and P’s birthday. The cake is a Thunder Cake, adapted from the children’s book Thunder Cake, by Patricia Polacco. When B was little, we read the book and tried out the recipe.  I’m not a very good cake baker, and this one is exceptional, so it is now the only allowed birthday cake in our house.

I tinkered with the recipe slightly.  I cook it in 9-inch pans, and I fold in the egg whites as the last step. Chocolate butter icing from the Joy of Cooking is good with this (p. 678).

I think I’ll spare you the picture of the peach pie.  I cheated with boxed pie crust, but let me just say that a bit of lemon zest in the pie filling, along with some applesauce for its pectin, is dee-licious.

But dang, my hand mixer started smelling strongly of burning wires while I was beating the egg whites.  I had to finish, of course, and so the mixer got rather hot in my hand.  It’s dead now.  I find this enormously annoying for a variety of reasons:

  • It was only about five years old.  I bought my previous mixer at Sears in 1976 for $7.99 and got a good 29 years out of it.
  • It was cute, small, easy to use, and had a little storage container to hold the mixer and the beaters.
  • (The worst thing) I have to throw this useless hunk of plastic and metal away.  In the trash, not even the recycling.

Phooey.  Good cake, though.

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I’ve made a fair amount of noise about the floating plastic in the North Pacific Gyre (aka the Great Garbage Patch).  I do wish I could come up with a two sentence synopsis that I could reel off when I’m in a store and they’re giving me a plastic bag to hold one item.

The guys who sailed a raft made of plastic bottles to Hawaii so that they could draw attention to the plastic soup REALLY did something.  It’s called the JUNK raft.  They just completed their journey a couple of days ago.  I think they are awesome.  Go read the account of the trip.

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The old one broke.  Do I buy a new plastic permanent filter, or unbleached paper filters?  You used to be able to get cloth filters, but I didn’t see one at the store today.

I’m leaning towards paper, which can go in the compost.  Still, what about the manufacturing energy costs?

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My walking partner, who just finished reading Pocketful of Names, by Joe Coomer, asked me this morning the difference between flotsam and jetsam.  I didn’t know, so I’ve just looked it up. Per Merriam-Webster:

  • Flotsam is “floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo; broadly: floating debris.”  Related to ‘float’.
  • Jetsam is “the part of a ship, its equipment, or its cargo that is cast overboard to lighten the load in time of distress and that sinks or is washed ashore.”  From ‘jettison’.

When I looked it up, one of the links was to the Wikipedia article on marine debris. All roads lead back to the North Pacific Gyre, don’t they?

You can go read it yourself, but I’m just going to quote a chilling sentence:

Though it was originally assumed that most oceanic marine waste stemmed directly from ocean dumping, it is now thought that around four fifths of the oceanic debris is from rubbish blown seaward from landfills, and washed seaward by storm drains.

This morning I was thinking about paper plates, and wondering if they degrade in landfills if they are coated with plastic.  IS that coating on the ‘soakproof’ type of plate made of plastic?  If so, does it become nurdles after the paper is gone back into the earth?

We always have some way of being complacent, don’t we?  I can pat myself on the back for using paper plates instead of plastic at a cookout, and for putting my trash in a Kansas landfill as opposed to a coastal landfill, but it’s really all bad.  I’m pretty sure my nurdles, flotsam, and jetsam are contributors to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Faintly related flotsam and jetsam roiling around in my brain:

  • I saw a sticker on a car yesterday that said “Plastic bags blow.”
  • One of those Wikipedia articles used the word ‘anthropogenic’.  Good word, too bad we  have to have it.
  • ‘Flotsam’ seems to be able to stand alone.  ‘Jetsam’ doesn’t.

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This ought to be interesting.  First of all, my sister is going to laugh at me.  I’ve been looking for a clock for the guestroom for ages.  No clock has been exactly right.  I haven’t wanted anything fancy, just a plain alarm clock.  Finally I bought one at Target.   My sister was with me.  She said, “Finally, you got a clock.”

I realize when I got it home that it was extensively blister packed in plastic.  Here I’ve been blathering along about plastic and being a responsible consumer, and I buy something that uses a ridiculous amount of plastic that will just be thrown away. So I returned it.  Now I still have no clock for the guestroom.

But the next errand was to Office Depot, where I bought Dragon Naturally Speaking software.  I was worried that it was going to be blister packed. I usually download software, rather than buying a CD.  However, this software comes with a microphone.  So I bought the box, which was, happily, packed only in cardboard.

now I’m practicing with the software and going forward.  I’m not going to make any corrections.  It’s quite frustrating at this point, for example, why is the word now not capitalize at the beginning of the sentence?  That’s the least of my issues.  My hands hurt so I need to do something that will allow me to use a computer.  I bet I can train it.


Will be a test and speak naturally, this is really quite annoying, but I think it will be okay.  Okay that’s enough for now

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Hehehe. Remember my keyboard techno-whine? I gave the keys to my friend D so he can make stuff out of them. He took them home in a resealable plastic bag. So that’s what it was for!

underwear bag with keyboard keys

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Our friend D came to visit. He’s very good at discerning the ludicrous in everyday life. He brought me a present, the plastic bag that a new pair of mens underpants came in. I was puzzled at first (as well as blind, because I didn’t have on my glasses). What was so funny about this bag? Then I put on my glasses and he pointed out to me the text on the zip-lock top: “resealable bag.”

Don’t you wonder what they were thinking? Is it part of the modern drive to label everything in case someone uses it incorrectly and then sues the company, like the silica gel packets in shoe boxes that have “Do not eat” written on them? Or perhaps the commercialized greening of everything in the whole world? You can see those underwear company marketing folks discussing the packaging:

Marketing guy A: “We gotta have a good-looking model on the front, someone who looks like Tom Cruise.”

Marketing guy B: “Maybe we can get Tom Cruise himself!”

Marketing guy A: “Nah, too expensive. We’ll just get a look-alike.”

Marketing guy B: “A zip-lock top would be a classy touch, not like that cheap underwear packaging that people tear off and throw away.”

Marketing guy A: “That’s it! It’ll look great, and we’ll come off as environmentally responsible.”

Marketing guy B: “But how do we get the customer to notice it, so they don’t just tear the bag off and throw it away?”

Marketing guy A: “Look, we’ll just put a tasteful little label on it explaining how it’s used.”

Would you take your lunch sandwich to work in a reused underwear bag? How do you know where it’s been?

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Recently I almost bought some new sheets. The guest room sheets are rather ancient, and it’s the only double bed in the house, so I don’t have alternate sheets for it. I saw some nice ones in Tuesday Morning – all cotton, floral. Then I saw that they were in a plastic zippered box-ish bag. Forget it. I don’t want to have to find a use for that package.

I’d still like to get some new sheets, but do I need them? Not at the expense of the plastic package. I can probably wait until there are actual holes in the sheets instead of just thin faded spots.

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My friend Mianne just sent me a link to Inhabitat, a blog about green design. That designers are thinking about this makes me very hopeful about the possibilities for the future.

On the Inhabitat blog I read about Chris Jordan, who was the keynote speaker for the Greener Gadget conference that took place on Friday. Recently I made a comment wishing there were a way to make art out of junk. Look at Chris Jordan’s photographic work. Click into the “Running the Numbers” section. I was mesmerized.

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My docking station, which allows me to use my laptop with a 22″ monitor and a full-size keyboard, broke yesterday.  I spent an hour on Dell Support Chat, with Francisco, who asked me few substantive questions, and several silly ones.  (Me: It’s not working.  Nothing happens when I push the power button.  Francisco: Are you getting any error messages?)

The upshot is that they’re sending me a replacement, because it’s still under warranty.  I have to send the broken one back, to prove that it’s really broken and that I’m not scamming them to get an extra docking station.  It’s not a big or fancy part, and I wonder what they’re going to do with it.  I can’t imagine that they’ll refurbish it.  So it will probably go in the trash.  More wasted plastic, plus useless electronic bits.

Where are the people making sculptures out of this junk?  I mean interesting, beautiful, meaningful, thought-provoking sculptures.  I guess the supply far outstrips the demand for worthless broken trash.

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