Yachtie Glow: by Angela Orecchio
While I care a great deal about the environment, I’m just as guilty as anyone when it comes to buying plastic items for convenience.
Plastic is a major issue for the environment. Ocean Crusaders says there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic floating in our ocean. It also has this startling fact: 1 million seabirds die from plastic. I also read that we have no idea how long it takes for all of the plastic we consume to fully break down.
Have you heard of the Great Garbage Patch floating in our ocean? It’s heartbreaking, yet there are things each of us can do daily to take care of the health of the planet.
1. Recycle. This is the last resort of reducing plastic. But it’s important. Start by talking to the captain about setting up a recycling program that works onboard. Create the specifics of the program and hold a meeting/training about it. Ensure that everyone knows what to do and how important recycling is. Designate one crew member to be in charge of making sure the program is successful.
One way to start recycling is to have a “non-recycle” bin for usual trash, and then one set up for plastic, paper and other recyclables. Designate the removal and proper distribution of the recycling to the watch keeper as part of his/her end-of-night duties.
Double check on how and what to recycle as the yacht travels; it changes from place to place.
If the port or marina where the yacht is docked does not have a recycling bin, first talk to the captain to get permission to meet with the yacht’s agent, DPA or dockmaster. Work with them to help set up a recycling program.
If they cannot help, reach out to the nearest recycling center. Either it can provide a recycling bin or someone there can identify where the nearest one is. If it’s a trip away, then potentially, this can be a bulk run done by one of the crew members when they go out every few days.
Plastic water bottles set out for trash.
2. Water bottles. A lot of boats still buy cases of bottled water. Ask the engineer how water is filtered on board. If no one is sure if it’s potable, buy a water test kit and check it.
If it’s not drinkable, get an external filter that sits under the sink in the crew mess and/or galley. Work with the engineer on what will work best for the boat.
Reusable plastic water bottles are a better option than one-time-use plastic. Still, they become worn after a short time. I prefer a glass bottle with a rubber sleeve, which prevents the bottle from breaking.
3. Shopping bags. Many countries no longer give out shopping bags at checkout for free. It is easy to build up a collection of long-lasting shopping bags. Just remember to put them back in the crew car or somewhere they won’t be forgotten. Reusable produce bags are great alternatives to the plastic ones found on the roll in the produce sections.
4. Food containers. Most boats use Tupperware of some kind. This is a fantastic alternative to zip-top bags. Still, Tupperware tends to wear eventually, especially after being stained by food and multiple dishwasher runs. A great alternative to plastic Tupperware is glass or stainless steel. Many companies make durable glass Tupperware with lids that can go in the oven, microwave and dishwasher. While the lids are plastic, the base will last for many years.
5. Sealable bags. Avoiding zip-top bags on a yacht can be quite tricky. They are so convenient and they don’t take up much room like rigid food containers. Still, they are plastic. Some alternative are re-usable sandwich bags, stainless steel or glass containers, and muslin wrap.
If zip-top bags are a must, wash them out and reuse them. Get organized and designate one location for clean-but-used bags for less than sterile needs.
6. Straws. Plastic one-use straws are easy to replace. There are so many alternatives out there, including metal, glass and multi-use plastic or silicone straws.
Angela Orecchio is a chief stew, certified fitness instructor and health coach. This column was edited from her blog, Savvy Stewardess, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Yachting (www.savvystewardess.com). Comments are welcome below.