Welcome onboard, Zero Waste and Solar Food!
Gotta love the idea of Zero Waste on a sailboat. It all started with a thought – how hard can it be to live on a boat and totally eliminate the mountains of waste that normally is collected, dragged around in yucky plastic bags, and dumped in marinas somewhere else...not seldom on small and remote islands that had nothing to do with the trash in the first place? Or even worse, having some of it consciously or unconsciously dumped or washed straight into the seawater?
You don't want to know how much waste we humans dump into the oceans or how much waste ends up in landfills on a daily basis. But you do know that it is happening, right? So, to answer the question above – it doesn't matter how hard it is to stop contributing to our old-school and painful habits of ours. We simply have to do what we can to find more sustainable and conscious ways to manage our ways of living. Starting now.
SINGLE-USE PLASTICS – A REALLY BAD IDEA?
Seriously, we are being told that by bringing a cloth bag to the grocery store, the major plastic problem will be "solved". That is one step forward, yes. But the real problem is of course inside these bags. Step into any normal grocery store today and try to buy one round of a day's meals that is not wrapped in plastics. It is a big chance that you walk out of that store without salads, bell peppers, bananas, meat, chicken, fish, bread, milk, rice, nuts, cheese, coffee, tea, juice, yogurt, and cookies. Or try to buy something to clean yourself or the house with, that is not wrapped in plastic. Your bag made of recycled cotton may be empty at the cashier. This is the case more or less all around the world today. How did it turn this way? We already know the answer to that, don't we? And still, we seem to turn around and hope for it to go away by itself. It won't.
OUR IDEA AND POLICY
Ok, so we decided to act now and go as all-in as we can this summer. In the last six months, we have practiced, researched, and prepared for a zero-waste lifestyle onboard. Here is basically what we will do:
1) Base our purchase and waste management on the zero waste guru Bea Johnson's five R's – REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE,single-use, and ROT. We will even stretch one step further and RETURN all packaging to the sellers of whatever we need, but cannot buy without being forced to accept single-use plastics in their delivery.
2) Search for and only buy food, drinks and everyday stuff needed that can be bought in bulk or direct from the producers and put into our containers and wrappers.
3) Test new eco products, learn about harvesting wild foods, try new methods of cooking, handle wastewater onboard as well as try composting the biodegradable food waste we cannot use. ...AND WHAT ABOUT SOLAR FOOD? Looking into how food is being produced, transported, and packaged around the world and the habits we have grown into when having access to anything we desire at any time and anywhere calls for action as well. We simply can't keep on with that. We need to change these behaviors. In this project, we will go all-in on this issue as well. We chose to call it "solar foods". By only buying what we need and want from local producers, farmers, fisheries, seaweed developers, and other pioneers in local food along our voyage, we hope to change our habits and inspire others to do the same.
Our findings may not be "news" to all of you, but the all-in perspective is new to us and we hope to inspire more people by sharing our experiences, displaying our failures, and promoting our best discoveries.
Guri Bigham is managing our Zero Waste & Solar Food issues onboard. Here she is buying food in bulk, using her reusable bags as the only packaging. Check out the full Zero Waste & Solar Food Policy and Guri's website www.sovway.earth.
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And here, are some prepping insights and learnings so far:
Food is seasonal. We have been trained to demand anything at any season and from any corner of the world. We hardly know where the food is coming from, and we consider it a flaw if our grocery store around the corner cannot serve us what we want for tonight's dinner. At all times. Is that really good, or really-really bad?
Coming home from the store and filling up the reusable jars. No trash, no waste, no plastics. It is not always easy, but when done it saves time, space, and money...should be great news for anyone living on a small boat.
Stores in the forefront even sell oils and liquids in bulk. Fill up your jar. The sticker on the jar tells the cashier how many grams the jar is when empty, and that weight is deducted before payment. An easy fix if we all want it to happen. Let's see how easy that is to find along the shores of Scandinavia.
– Can you please put the cheese in my waxed cloth instead of your plastic wrapper?
We are in the early phase of changing habits and behaviors in the stores. Some do accept to serve their customers in a new way, some do not. Some still get annoyed when being asked to think outside their box... We will share our experiences and reactions along our voyage.
Are dried orange peels just waste? We have learned that getting rid of them is the only thing. However, if dried they spread the loveliest of scents in the room (and in the boat), and if packed into small balls they are said to serve as clean and efficient fire-starters in a grill or a fireplace. We saved them all winter and will try them all summer...
Picking dandelions for dinner. There is wild food growing for free and without packaging in almost every corner of the world. We seem to have lost most of the knowledge about which ones are edible and what to do with them. We will learn more and share with you what we find, where we find them, and what they taste like.
There are devoted producers of good stuff everywhere. Easy to find if you just put a little effort into searching for them – instead of just running to the store as usual. We bumped into Sophie in Chamonix, France. She is making the loveliest soaps, shampoos, and solid washing blocks. She uses only vegetable oils (olive, coconut, sunflower, castor, macadamia, jojoba), rhassoul clay, orange peels, and essential oils. Here she delivers 2 kilos of body soap on a street corner. A natural soap, biodegradable and non-toxic... The Baltic Sea will love it. Check out her soaps here: https://www.facebook.com/LHerbArtiste/
Speaking about soap, the 4 kilos of Savon De Marseille in one mega block will do the job with washing dishes, washing clothes, washing bodies, washing the teak deck, washing whatever. A block made only from olive oil, coconut oil, water, salt, and lye. We have tested it in salt water and we love it. The small pieces in the front are solid body soap and shampoo. Why buy it in plastic bottles, filled with mostly water?
Just cut a piece, use it directly with a sponge for dishes, or grain it and mix with water and pour it into your washing machine. It simply just gets the job done by nature. – – –