Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Beth Terry, Fake Plastic Fish: How I Have Fun, Do Good

 The eighth guest blogger in my have fun, do good series is Beth Terry.  Beth has been living plastic-free since 2007 and blogs about her adventures at  She is also an advisor to the Plastic Pollution Coalition and a contributing editor for  You can follow Beth on Twitter at @fakeplasticfish, on the Fake Plastic Fish Facebook page, and on her personal Facebook page.

ou can see her speak (via streaming video) this Saturday, November 6th at TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch in Los Angeles. Click here to find a watch party near you.

Beth Terry, Fake Plastic Fish: How I Have Fun, Do Good

When I tell people about my project to live without buying any new plastic, they invariably want to know if it’s hard. The answer? It all depends on my attitude. Yes, trying to protect the planet from plastic pollution and inspire others to cut their plastic consumption can be hard. But it’s also fun.

Three years ago, I decided to collect and tally all the plastic waste I generated each week and post it on my blog. The project could have been an exercise in guilt and public humiliation, but instead, it felt like a game. How many points do I get each time I refuse a plastic straw? How many do I score for each small company I discover doing good: reducing their waste and creating ingenious products to help us reduce ours? I love stumbling across sources of plastic in our lives that most of us haven’t considered. For example, instead of getting depressed when I stumbled upon the fact that chewing gum is made from plastic (polyvinyl acetate, to be precise), I felt like I had made a big score.

I have a couple of friends, artists Richard Lange and Judith Selby Lange, who scour the beach regularly for plastic trash to include in their art projects. Their pieces are fantastic and beautiful, even as they depict the terrible problem of plastic pollution. But Richard and Judith make their beach excursions into a game, competing to see who can find the most interesting treasures. And that’s how I feel about my work. It may be hard sometimes, and the information I learn may be sad, maddening, or depressing, but it’s up to me to choose what attitude I bring to my work and to find the fun in it.

Photo: My friend Eli and I at the 2009 Bay to Breakers.  We won the costume contest.  Now that was fun!

Want to get involved? Beth invites you to join the Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge.

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  1. Hi Beth Terry,

    Very neat! I'm going to check out your blog.

    Also, do your beach combing friends have a website where they display their artwork? Sounds cool.

    Thanks for the post Britt Bravo!

  2. Hi Heather,

    I can answer that for you because I interviewed Judith and Richard for the Arts and Healing Podcast:

    You can learn more about their work at, and read anecdotes about their plastic collecting and artmaking on their blog, Plastic Forever


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