Reducing Our Footprint
One of the things I wanted to pay attention to on this trip was keeping our boat trash to a minimum. In a small space trash and food waste become a real challenge.
Once we hit these pristine, beautiful waters the garbage issue took on a new meaning. In such clear waters (see any number of previous photos) it struck me forcibly that we have a responsibility to keep it that way. Previous cruisers in these waters have not always been diligent in waste disposal and have left a bad reputation, which takes time to overcome for those of us who follow. Some have seen a deserted island as an opportunity to leave a trash bag above the water line presumably thinking “what does one bag hurt?”
Here we pay for trash collection in some but not all places. Sometimes as much as $25 per bag so that certainly makes you think twice!
When provisioning before sailing, I took as much packing material off the boat as I possibly could. True it still is trash but I recycle cardboard and plastics back in the U.S.A. Here in the Exumas there is no recycling, so I feel a little better having done that responsibly.
One way to minimize trash is to buy in bigger sizes, think large bag of chips instead of individual packets. That is not wildly practical on a boat where shelf space has limitations and you also have to consider waste if you don’t use the whole supply before it spoils. Okay chips may be a bad example here as no one in the history of the world ever let a bag of chips sit to go stale! My compromise was to buy bigger and divide into usable portions
Which brings me to food storage bags. We use a lot of them. In the freezer, in the fridge, marinating tonight’s dinner, protecting money and phones on dinghy rides and so on. So how can we to reduce that? Out came the Tupperware, at least for the fridge, and whenever possible I reuse the bags. Yes I have even washed some bags and line dried them for another day! It makes me feel better and maybe helps just a little bit!
On board we have a trash compactor which we use frequently. I never thought I would find it useful, even suggesting at one point we could remove it and replace with a cupboard. But surprise, surprise, I find it very useful to shrink waste cans to a manageable size.
Degradable food waste is collected and when we transit deep water this is thrown overboard to feed the fish. One man’s waste is another fish’s dinner although I am probably promoting cannibalism when I feed them shrimp tails. Can you see how this is doing my head in?
Another activity is moving plastic washed up on the shore to above the waterline. If you spend time around the water you will have seen the damage done to wildlife by thoughtless waste disposal. Fish choking on plastic can holders, pelicans unable to fly snared in fishing line etc. So again a little plastic removal on our morning walks has to help some, right?
Is it perfect? Not by a long way but if we as cruisers make small efforts I believe they will pay dividends in the future. Balance is what we strive for, and by becoming more focused on the issue of minimizing trash on this cruise I hope we can do just a little to help.