Kicking off a Waste-Free 2019

(Waste "Less" if we're being real, because Waste-Free and Zero-Waste can sound daunting)

In our office, we’re note-takers, appointment-makers (+ changers), and frequent pencil-inners.

We started looking around for our new 2019 weekly planners, and literally could not find ONE that wouldn’t ultimately be destined for landfill.

Wait, WHAT?!

Not. One.

It’s either the binding (frequently spiral), the cover materials (plastic coating, laminating, glued cloth, coated papers…), and or the elastic bands to keep the planners closed, the satin ribbons for page marking, plastic divider tabs for dividing, stickers for who even knows, or some combination of all of the above - all turning the paper the planners are printed on, into garbage forever + ever.

We became obsessed thinking about ALL of the millions of planners, right about now, hitting store shelves across the country, all ending up in landfills. It’s offensive. Offensive and negligent and dumb and irresponsible. Why do we (makers of things) keep designing, and filling store shelves with garbage?

So we designed and printed a 100% Recyclable 2019 Weekly Planner.

We consulted with local recycling companies, got their stamp of approval on the prototype, and had them printed and bound locally in San Francisco.

Each week has two full pages - One for dates/appointments, the other for notes

Each week has two full pages - One for dates/appointments, the other for notes

We’re super pleased with it, and feedback from our friends and customers has been great.

Happy Holidays however you celebrate + Here’s to a much MUCH less wasteful 2019.

At our company Wisdom Supply Co., we’re literally planning on it.

Stuff-dar? and a Holiday Gift Guide.

Shop-dar?  It's whatever we want to call our radar spidey-senses when we're in shopping mode.

After recently moving - granted, we only moved 20 miles away, it still required packing and boxes and moving trucks.  You know what made it hardest?

All the stuff we accumulated in the 13 years we lived in that house.

My own personal shop-dar/plas-dar has been honed by two things: having recently been forced to come to terms with letting go (Goodwill + Landfill) of an utterly shameless amount of "stuff" (loads of it plastic), and a dawning awareness of what "stuff" is doing to the planet (landfills, litter + oceans).

Not sure if Tyler Durden is the original source of this quote, but I'm rolling with it.

Not sure if Tyler Durden is the original source of this quote, but I'm rolling with it.

Now I'm what I'll call "guarded" about what stuff I add to the new house.  When I'm (dragged) out shopping, I'll ooh and aaah over how lovely things are with one eye, while the other eye pictures weary-me packing that thing up (or putting it in a giveaway box) for the next move, and I end up passing nine times out of ten (I use my Marty Feldman Shop-dar Eyes).


I was lucky enough to recently have a birthday, and no one got me anything - just what I always wanted!

And now it's the hollydays, so as we dash about looking for stuff to fill stockings, and little-somethings to give the host, the babysitter, the Secret Santa pick, friends, family, and our children, I humbly (sneakily) hope to plant a teeny tiny "stuff"-seed in your shoppy thoughts.

I'm no Laura Ingalls or Pioneer Woman or Minimallist Minnie.

I have some stuff, and I like some stuff, and I know it's fun to give to others because in the end, it makes us happy.

In a perfect world, we'll pick the best stuff out there, and no one will give the stuff we gave them to Goodwill, or to the landfill one day.

Shopping Local is obviously the best, and by far the most fun.

My personal favorites (to give or get) are things you can eat or drink, or the beautiful, high- quality versions of the really utilitarian stuff.

Gorgeous scissors, because not all of us spend $24 - $79 on scissors for ourselves, but the plastic ones from the office supply store are a visual bummer.

Glass Straws because they are my favorite gift to give of all time.  

Bamboo Toothbrush & Bamboo Travel Case

When I'm ready for a new toothbrush, I lop off the end with the bristles (that much is landfill) and the rest I chuck into the compost.  

"Brush with Bamboo" sells both the cases and the brushes, the one on the right is also bamboo, but sold by Ernest Supplies.

Have you written with awesome pencils recently?  Aren't they so worth it?

A box of beautiful pencils + a for-keeps pencil case + a sharpener = Rad Present (in my book)

Oh right, I have a "thing" about pencil cases.  I'll try to be brief.

Nutshell:  They're too big, and that means that we'll end up putting too much stuff in them, and then they're cluttered and you end up not using half of what's in there, and you're carting around "stuff" you don't need.  It's the American way.

I like a slim, single layer pencil case. Keep everything in it sharp and ship-shape.

Haven't found the 100% perfect one yet, but I'll recommend my two picks here:

#1  The Muji Aluminum Pencil Case (this is the one I use)

Pros: Slim, Makes me feel organized and tidy (two of my favorites), inexpensive.

Cons: I wish it were a little longer - A brand new pencil won't fit inside, so I have to use pencils that have been whittled down/used a bit.  I've also been thinking of adding a piece of felt along the inside so that it holds everything in place, and thus no rattling from within.


#2  The Homework Pencil Case by Present & Correct.

I don't own this one, but hope to try it out soon.

Pros: Looks slim and tidy - not going to be stuffing it with things you don't need.

Won't be rattly/noisy.

Looks like a keeper - something you won't ever replace because it will have a nice patina as it breaks in.  

If that button on the front holds over time, this looks pretty great.

Would like it if they had a vegan version as well... and I know that's a form of plastic - and that's where I often find myself torn...   I digress.

more to come...











Rylie's Blog Post

Microbead thoughts by There is No Away intern and high school senior: Rylie Neely

*You're probably up to speed on President Obama's 2015 signing of the the ban on microbeads.

Or as you call it "H.R 1321"


July 1, 2017 - Ban on manufacturing of products containing microbeads takes effect.

July 1, 2018 - Ban on sale of products containing microbeads takes effect.

Thanks Obama.  (no seriously, thanks)

Rylie and I were talking, and what's all up in our craw are the 871 days (as of this posting) BEFORE those absurd products are no longer on the shelves (estimated that a single tube of face wash can contain 300,000 microbeads). 

You know how long those microbeads (that wash down  drain and out to sea) will be out there wreaking havoc in the ocean?  For like EVER. 

Here's what a certain informed 17 year old had to say about it:

photo courtesy of 5Gyres

photo courtesy of 5Gyres

So PLEASE read those face wash and toothpaste labels - Crest, Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clearasil, Olay, Garnier, Bath and Body Works, Clinique, Proactiv, Clean and Clear (to name a few) have trillions of microbeads they're looking to unload (courtesy of you) before that ban goes into effect. In just 871 more days.

My Intern.

Have I mentioned I have an intern?

Aside from making me sound more important than I am, this 17 year old lady-gal just up and had her article about stupid plastic straws, published in the Huffington Post today.

Just like that.

Exactly the sort of stuff I was doing when I was 17. 

Quiet mom, no one wants to hear about the fire hydrant.

click for the rest of the article

Sharing this sort of thing on social media earns you angel wings, or whatever. (please share!!)

Up with kids like this and down with stupid plastic straws.



I'm sorry, what's that you say?

You're wondering what that stupid thing is that I'm holding?


Right. That is a 9x12 plastic mailer for AIG Insurance.

"Truly Protecting Your Home From ALL Risks"

Your home: Yes.

Your planet: Sorry Sucker!

Eyeroll + Sigh = Return to sender

I just got off the phone with my local recyclers, and they don't want this stupid thing either.

They explained that sure, you can put it into your recycling bin, but the sorters on the receiving end of this wishcycling will be tasked with picking it out from among all the other heaps of absurd plastics as they go by on the conveyor belt, and they will send it where it is really going, the landfill.


Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 11.58.51 AM.png

So I have this idea

...for a "calling card" of sorts.

I mocked this up in a Word document, so no judgy (actually I do want your opinion AND your Illustrator expertise!).

The idea is to leave this little paper card at the eateries you frequent.

Maybe even sign the back with your name and a smiley face (killing with kindness = winning).

Plus, this way they would know it's not just coming from one crazy customer (me)                     



Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 8.44.20 AM.png


I'd say something rational like "It's a start", or "Let's mull this over", but that's what poised and patient people do.

I'm off to the printe

What does FREE cost?

free  frē/

adverb  without cost or payment.

I'm taking issue with the "without cost" bit.

You bought the sno-cone, but the skinny red straw was FREE

You went to the fire station; they gave the kiddo the plastic hat for FREE

The samples of food and drink (cups and spoons included) were FREE 

The "Buy Recycled" bumper sticker = FREE

Straws = dumb things are always FREE

Balloons and curly ribbon = FREEEEEE!   

Wow. Talk about value-add.

What if all of that disposable plastic had to be purchased outright by the consumer?

Turn around the "brought your own - you get a discount" system,  to "You need a spoon?  No problem, that'll be twenty five cents"  "A Straw?  Sure, ten cents please".

And for crying out loud, those spoons should be bamboo and the straws should be paper - you know, NOT trash - things that can actually be converted into invaluable, usable compost.


Why not?

All of that plastic stuff - repugnant though it may be - wasn't conjured by FREE-magic.

Making those items involved things like "technology" and "materials" and "labor" and "shipping".

They are actual physical things that cost actual money and no part of it is FREE.  Not on the front end, or the back.

Money spent on the making and the shipping, and money spent on countless (futile feeling) efforts to combat the litter that results from making single use items out of plastic.

We're actively manufacturing and giving out free GARBAGE - because that's what plastic is.

And we're doing it like crazy.

How dumb is that?

All the plastic straws, and the plastic hats in the collection above?  Those are pieces of plastic kids traded in exchange for Raffle Tickets at a local Country Fair last weekend. They handed over the hats saying things like "I have three others at home, I don't need it"  and about the straws for the snow cones, I repeatedly heard "I don't need it".

Listen up:  They don't need it.

This guy?

He brought me SO many pieces of plastic for the Raffle!!

He won this PlanetBox lunchbox!

Other winners took home a set of these brilliant glass straws by Glass Dharma:

I can't possibly praise these enough.  I have a jar full on my counter - same set for years -  LOVE  them.

I can't possibly praise these enough.

I have a jar full on my counter - same set for years - LOVE them.

...and a lunch kit from Eco Lunchbox!

*Lid is silicone - discussion about silicone forthcoming

A heartfelt THANKS to


Glass Dharma

Eco Lunchbox 

for the generous donations

Oh, and it's over 900 tons of plastic per hour every hour 24 hours a day.


On the Radio!

Thanks KRCB

North Bay Public Media!


Anytime anyone is willing to walk and talk while I pick up plastic, I'm game - Otherwise I'm muttering to myself, perfecting my "person-of-interest"-persona: bag of trash = check, litter picker = check, tangled in leashes of two unwieldy dogs = check, poop bags + bags of poop = check and check - and here's the kicker: fanny pack = check.

I'm a vision.

Join me sometime!  Kidding. But not really - we should go trawl the dry creek beds before the supposed rains come... because the plastic in those dry creeks are quietly queueing up for the Bay Water Express.

I digress.


Thank you thank you Katie McMurran, and thank you KRCB Radio!

*Click the image for a link to the 3 minute segment  :)

Here's the plastic I picked up on my walk/interview with Katie at Millennium Park (aka Memorial Park) in San Anselmo...

And this next collection is from the same spot a few days later...

Oh, and all these straws remind me that they gave a shout out to Insalata's Restaurant during the segment!  Bravo to restaurant owner Heidi Krahling, and the manager Beth (interviewed), and the bar manager Paris, for being actively involved in plastic reduction by NOT automatically including straws with their beverages!  Love that place!

Definition of Recycling

I always thought the word recycle meant that the original item would go through a process and be turned back into what it originally was.

So I looked up the word recycle:

Look at that, I was wrong (for only the jillionth time)

I still prefer DOWNcycle, UPcycle, or repurpose when referring to items made into something other than their original form (when a marker is turned into fuel, for example), because those terms better connect the dots that it isn't, as the recycling symbol neatly implies, a circular/closed loop system.

But technically, the Crayola Marker Recycling Program is a recycling effort.

More importantly, it's not the only one... working on next blog post now... 

All Due Respect

Videos like this one trouble me...Shown under a TEDed label, it's taken as fact by a good number of people that view it.


It's nicely done, and most of the message rings true to my understanding, but it is a massive disservice to spread the idea that recycling is the answer to the plastics piling up in landfills (13% of the solid waste stream according to the EPA) and fouling the oceans.

One factor complicating plastics recycling is that there are 7 common types of plastic that have to be sorted into like-types before they can be recycled - this is further mucked up with the introduction of "bio-plastics", which sound great, but suck on multiple levels, this being a mere one of them.

The fact that we use such an offensively absurd amount of plastic all day every day is the reason literal tons of plastic are washing into the ocean around the clock (8million metric tons annually).  

Picture it - seriously - A conveyor belt of tons of plastic dumping into the ocean 24/7, because that's the deal.

So a neat and tidy message that we can recycle our way out of this gets all up in my craw no matter how well intentioned the messenger.

The solution is turning off the plastic tap and rethinking the material for use when intelligently necessary (medical use/large durable goods manufacturing...), not for plastic water bottles, ring pops, straws, cigarette filters, glitter, googly eyes, and tampon applicators.



Do-dads for Graduates

...more like Do-Don'ts.

Ahhh, June is upon us.

SO many graduations, adorable "stepping-up" ceremonies, and last day of school parties for kids from Kindergarten through High School.

Events are in the air!  

And in just a matter of days, the by-products (or "buy-products") of these celebrations will head to landfills, gutters, and oceans to join the rest of the inconceivable millions of tons of it already piling up there.

Picked up off the ground/gutters of Fairfax 5/28/2015 (the party sign is 100% plastic)

Picked up off the ground/gutters of Fairfax 5/28/2015 (the party sign is 100% plastic)

Can I propose a quick time-out?

A little "pause-a-moment"?

Here's a sampling of plastic I collected from our local streets and gutters one year ago...

Balloons, Curly Ribbon, Plastic Confetti (shaped like graduation caps and diplomas!), Bubble Wands, Puffy Stickers, Party Favors, Elaborate Plastic Candy Containers (a motorized spinning lollipop holder)... 

You know the deal - just picture the aisles upon aisles of brightly colored plastic in any drug store or Target like retailer... and then imagine all of that stuff laying on the ground, all used up (for a whopping few hours), once shiny and exciting, now dirty and forlorn.

Worth it?

And who's it really for anyway?


My theory is that we say it's for our kids, but really WE'RE the ones getting suckered in by the colors and the packaging. We're addicted to seeing our kids get excited (if only for a fleeting time) by this tacky, forever-lasting junk.  

It's pre-garbage by design.

They don't need it.  And if we were teaching them the truth about the way it's building up around the world and in the seas, they could be weaned off of thinking they ever wanted any of it to begin with.

Was surprised when I went to pick up what I thought was another piece of plastic...

!!!! Happy Graduation to the Class of 2015 !!!!

We're Hydrated Already.

I just think the vast majority of us aren't in any real danger of dehydration.

As a recent tourist of the great cities of D.C., Boston, and N.Y., walking literal miles a day, I found myself fascinated by on-the-go beverage consumption, and seflie-sticks.

But more by our obsession with hydration. 

Perhaps I'm predisposed to noticing plastic fallout on streets, gutters, and teetering on overflowing trash bins, but after a few weeks playing "observer" on the other side of the country, I'll state without any hint of exaggeration that we are a nation chained to the teat of Big Beverage (Water, Juice, Soda, Coffee, Smoothie...).

Obviously we need to hydrate - but we're American, so we need to do other stuff at the same time. We can't be spending all kinds of time sitting around with cups and glasses, we have to hydrate on the go-go-go.

Granted, I'm used to this - See it pretty much everywhere (trying to think if there is anywhere I haven't seen it...). But what got all up in my craw this trip were the sippy-cups at the theater.

I'm not even that old, but old enough it seems to be galled by fellow theater goers at a New York showing of Book of Mormon (delightful), nursing their adult sippy-cups of wine and beer.

Aside from the fact that wine can't possibly taste good out of a plastic tumbler, coupled with the fact that there is no way to look dignified drinking out of a sippy cup, tripled by the fact that you are definitely contributing to the MOST wasteful way to enjoy a beverage, I almost can't find words.  

I borrowed this image from Christina DiRusso's twtrland feed (have no idea what that even means) but she is online and she seems sweet and quirky and had this perfect picture of sippy cups at Book of Mormon (click through for a link to her page). Can't help but notice the sippy cup on the left has a straw in it making it even wastier.  Almost no words.

I borrowed this image from Christina DiRusso's twtrland feed (have no idea what that even means) but she is online and she seems sweet and quirky and had this perfect picture of sippy cups at Book of Mormon (click through for a link to her page). Can't help but notice the sippy cup on the left has a straw in it making it even wastier.  Almost no words.

So there I was, waiting for the show to start all inwardly snorty about the sippy cups, and then I started noticing people sucking from their single use disposable water bottles - like vacuum inhaling the sides inward on the plastic water bottle so that it makes that crinkly sound, and then "whoooshes" when disengaged.

But who am I to judge?

Who's to say these good folks hadn't just finished a big run, jumped into their theater-wear, and bee-lined it to their seats as not to be late?  Thank goodness for so many hydration choices. Just think of all the lives... affected... by near constant hydration. If we try just a little harder though, maybe we can bump that 60% human body water measurement to a respectable 75%.

Because at 60%, aren't we really just failing? 

Plastic Rope

It's strong, waterproof, durable, colorful... let's see...what else?  Oh yeah, when it's not trapping and entangling marine life in its "derelict fishing gear" or "ghost nets" form, it's unraveling into billions of tiny thread like strands in the ocean where it can be consumed by sea birds like the Laysan and Black Footed Albatross.

What looks like a little pile of dirt (left) is actually a bolus, or a little pod of regurgitated indigestibles thrown up by an albatross chick.  

The image above shows the dissection of a bolus that has a great deal of the plastic thread material mixed in

That so much of this thread can be found washed up on beaches and in the guts of sea creatures, indicates that there is very likely a whole lot of it out there. I recently attended a lecture (part of a series put on by the Environmental Forum of Marin) and heard the speaker (Stiv Wilson formerly of 5Gyres, now with the Story of Stuff) describe touching these massive bundles of plastic rope out floating in the ocean, and watching hundreds of threads break off every time you handled it because of the amount of photodegradation that had occurred as these synthetic fibers endured the constant exposure to salt water, wave action, and sunlight. 

I get that plastic rope lasts longer. I get that it's stronger.  And I can see how one could have the perspective that it is better suited to the marine environment because it is resistant to the water, unlike their natural fiber counterparts sisal, manila, hemp, and jute, which are all derived from fibers and husks of plant materials.  But shift the "better suited to the marine environment" perspective to the image above and, well... it doesn't seem very well suited to sun and salt water after all.

All rope and fishing gear is potentially dangerous, and can accidentally entrap, strangle, and choke marine life when it winds up overboard. Preventing this gear from being left out there in the first place is the most obvious first step. But if we're going to continue to use rope in the ocean, and of course we are, seems to me it should be the kind that will break into biodegradable pieces sooner than later, not the kind that shreds into countless non-biodegradable brittle threads that will last in the ocean longer than we're able to fathom.

These 3 Images show the plastic (rope too) I collected on a recent walk on Stinson Beach - Getting to the point where I can't see how anyone can relax sitting on a beach surrounded by garbage...

These 3 Images show the plastic (rope too) I collected on a recent walk on Stinson Beach - Getting to the point where I can't see how anyone can relax sitting on a beach surrounded by garbage...

What's it called...

...when you stay in a beach house in a secluded little town 45 minutes from your front door for one glorious week? 

Ridiculously crazy awesome.

me and my better half with our one-way haul (added many more straws and caps on our way back to the house)

me and my better half with our one-way haul (added many more straws and caps on our way back to the house)

I know, it's beautiful.

but look closer,


little closer...

It was so deceptively beautiful that when I first looked out at the beach I actually had the thought "Maybe I won't find much plastic here."


Was it necessary for any of these items - whatever they once were - to be made out of a material that can't biodegrade?

Medical equipment aside (syringes not shown - husband already having a germaphobic cow), what here needed to be plastic? 

Or better yet, what here needed to be?

I say it all could have either not been made in the first place - I'm looking at YOU black hook hanger thing in the lower left corner - OR, it could have been made from aluminum (endlessly recyclable), or from paper - especially the straws.

I haven't counted the straws I found on the beach yet, but here's a sneak peek...

It's well beyond time for the packaging and product design heroes to save the day - So let's support them and cheer them on every chance we get.

A few favorites:

PulpWorks: Bay Area company making packaging products out of "100% post consumer waste paper and agriculture"

PulpWorks: Bay Area company making packaging products out of "100% post consumer waste paper and agriculture"

Aardvark:  Making paper straws in the U.S. for over 100 years

Aardvark:  Making paper straws in the U.S. for over 100 years

How is this or something a lot like it not already a huge thing?

Shouldn't THIS be the norm?

And THESE kinds of things:

Instead of these dreadful little things I find on the ground every day...

Solutions abound. We need to convince the merchants and manufacturers that we want sustainable products and sustainable packaging. 

I'll make my next post about Extended Producer Responsibility because it's really interesting, and it's really about time.

Until then - thank you Bolinas for a ridiculously crazy awesome week.

Shameless self promotion. Sort of.

A talented young gentleman from San Francisco State University contacted me out of the blue with a proposition to film me talking about what I'm always yammering on about anyway, so what's a girl to do?

I was his third choice.

No matter.

FYI, the camera adds a good ten pounds.

Actually YouTube adds 15.  Not that I give that sort of thing a second thought.

So thank you Mr. Philip Houston from SFSU, I hope you earned a decent grade for this effort. I certainly enjoyed having someone following me around with a camera all day, and I definitely think you did a swell job - Best of luck to you!

Puberty Day

...or something like that.  A certain person I know of the teenage variety, recently attended an off-site, multi-school "Peer Summit". They talked about vaginas, oral sex, and STD's, which is of course fantastic. What I wasn't prepared for, was THIS:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 10.34.02 PM.png

GROSS, right?!?

These flimsy water bottles of indeterminate plastic makeup, were given as swag to the Peer Summit attendees. 

Gee, (huge eye-roll) thanks.

Dumb cheap thing had already leaked all over said person's backpack. 

Looked on the bottom for the non-existent recycling symbol, which, while dubious in and of itself, tugs at a darker suspicion of what really happens with all that plastic in our recycling bins...


It certainly is satisfying having a bin dedicated to taking all of our bottles, cans, papers, and plastics "away".  

Away from where we are. 

Makes you feel like you're doing your part.

Where it goes, and what happens with it after it is emptied from our recycling bins is of course more complicated. One aspect of this involves something called "China's Green Fence" which was enacted in 2013. Newsflash, China is facing serious pollution problems, and this "Green Fence" has been an effort  for the Chinese to cut down on the volume of contaminated post-consumer plastics being shipped (away from us) to their ports.  In a nutshell; our recyclable plastics have traditionally been bundled and shipped overseas to be sold as scrap - most often to China. But now that China is restricting their imports of plastic scrap (the ugly fall-out from our throw-away culture), it's causing exporters (like us) to scramble for new channels to funnel our plastic waste (hello Malaysia and Vietnam!).


It's complicated, and I won't try to explain it because I don't understand it well enough to do a proper job, but I do know that it's not a neat and tidy loop from manufacturer to consumer to recycler to makers of new plastic stuff (like the clever recycling symbol implies). 


Statistics on how much plastic is ultimately "recycled" varies, but keep in mind those numbers refer to the amount of plastic we are able to recover to sell as scrap, not the amount of plastic that in the end is sorted and shredded into flake and then re-molded into new products. So let's take those recycling numbers with a grain of salt, because those low numbers are even lower.

Case in point:  EPA website states that "Only 9% of total plastic waste generated in 2012 was recovered for recycling."

9% recovered for recycling, not 9% recycled into new products.

I don't know - I've typed more words than I intended here trying to make the point that I don't think we should be feeling so virtuous about putting plastics in our recycling bins. 

The holidays are a great time to look at our plastic consumption with fresh and discerning eyes. From the gift wrap to the gift itself. 

Hmm. Maybe I'll throw together a gift guide just to get the juices flowing. I certainly haven't done any shopping yet, so this can be my two-birds/one-stone effort.