Before I go off on this tangent, I would like to state clearly that I’m not an environmental saint. By any means. Neither am I the austere sailor type – I decided a long time ago that “boating” does not equal “camping” for me, and I love my water heater and air conditioner and still keep a nice shoe collection on board. And last but not least, there are some aspects of boating life that could be a lot greener, and I would love to see them improve in the future.
Still, I have been living on a boat for some years now, and that means I’m living with “less” of a lot of things. Most importantly, less space. Which calls for more efficiency. Consequentially, greener living happens. I’m not talking about the more complicated things like solar panels and wind generators. Yes, we have those, and of course they help. But over these past few years I seem to have formed some tiny habits that aren’t even anything new at all, but that could easily, EASILY be applied anywhere, anytime. So please indulge me: imagine you’re living on a 34′ sailboat, and see if you could adopt some of the sailor’s ways.
Mind the water tank. It’s only 41 gallons, and doing what you can to save water means you don’t have to drag out the hose or the jerrycans. So turn that faucet off: a) while brushing your teeth, b) while lathering your hands, c) while lathering up in the shower.
Generate less trash. The trash can is a measly three gallon bucket (which conveniently fits grocery bags for trash bags). The less you bring in, the less you have to carry out, not to mention it won’t stink up the deck during long passages.
a) Unless it is hard to keep together, don’t put fruits and veggies in those annoying little plastic bags in the produce isle.
b) Try to avoid individualized packages, and buy as much as you can in bulk – less packaging, more content is what we’re going for.
c) The fridge is small, so try to cook only as much as you’ll eat, or get creative with leftovers. Keep any leftover foods in reusable containers rather than plastic zip bags – save those for keeping your digital camera safe from salt water spray.
d) Go easy on the paper towels. Use a sponge, get some dish towels and use old t-shirts and torn up old towels for rags to clean up big spills. Launder and repeat.
Don’t add chemicals. That is, unless they’re used to hold the boat together. When you’re sleeping on top of a diesel engine every night, there’s no need to add more toxins to your life. Also, bleach will positively destroy a marine toilet.
a) Get yourself a spray bottle and fill it with 1:1 water and vinegar (yes, it’s an anti-bacterial, and yes, you can buy it in bulk). It works great as a glass and floor cleaner, and even does toilets.
b) Check the Environmental Working Group for advice on sunscreen, cosmetics and bath products.
Tune into the weather. It is a GLORIOUS day today in south Florida, and I will bet you that 99% of air conditioners are still running. Open those hatches and enjoy the breeze!