What an Albatross ate moves us to reduce single use plastic


The stomach contents of a young Albatross Chick

At the Lisbon Volvo Ocean Race stop over last year, on one of the stands we saw the contents of the stomach of a dead Albatross chick from the Southern Ocean.  Look closely it is quite grim. The fact that there will be more plastic in the sea by 2050 than fish fills me with horror.

So last winter we decided reduce our consumption of single use plastic at home. We tried to reduce it is much as possible but we wanted to understand our single use plastic footprint. So for a couple of months we collected all our plastic and returned it to the supermarkets at the end of each month. The banner picture is all the plastic used for one month. Despite taking numerous steps we found it equated to a shocking 15 Kg of plastic a year. It would have been much more without these steps so we still have more to do but it was a good start.
So whilst sailing in 2018 we focused on what we had learnt from home to reduce our consumption of single use plastic:

Stopped buying Bottled water
Bottled Water – we drink a lot of water onboard and we now have 12 2 litre bottles that we refill from marina tap water. In the past we have bought bottle water. So not only do we save water but we save carting water from the supermarket and the quality of the water in the Baltic Countries is very good.
Sodastream – With a sodastream onboard we no longer buy sparkling water. A gas bottle would last us about 3-4 weeks and we had a spare bottle onboard. We were able to exchange bottles in Finland and Sweden but not in Estonia or Latvia. We may have been able to buy a bottle in Tallinn – but couldn’t in any other coastal cities.

Reduced the use of cling film

silicon lidsSilicon lids – these lids create a seal and reduce the amount of cling film. You get 2 types one that provides an airtight seal and the other type that is just a lid. We have found the former more useful.
Silicon Vegetable sealers – these seal the ends of cut vegetables. Good for cucumber, onions, avocados etc and take up less room in the fridge than plastic boxes. We use food huggers.

Reduced the use of plastic bags
Stackable airtight plastic boxes – we increased the number of these – but we needed to get stackable ones to prevent a tupperware mountain.
Vegetable bags – I made some thin cotton bags which we take shopping so that we don’t need plastic bags to weigh out vegetable.
Bags for Life (non hessian ones) – we never accept a plastic bag – we either use a rucksack or a bag for life. We have the non hessian bags for life as they take up less room and don’t attract mildew on a boat.
Reduction in the use of Ziploc bags – a few years ago we used to go through handfuls of Ziploc bags. They still have their uses but we now wash them out and reuse them.

Reduced use when on shore through BYO (Bring Your Own)
Keep cups and water bottles – before leaving the boat we take our keep cups (refillable tea/coffee cups) and refillable water bottles with us.
Plastic straws –we never ask for a plastic straw in a drink. But found they came in some drinks. So we found if you want to prevent ones being used you need to tell them when ordering a drink not refuse it when it arrives – it is too late at that point.

Making from scratch
Making dips – We make hummus and tzatziki from scratch. It saves quite a few plastic pots. It also tastes much nicer.

New for 2019
This year we are going to totally stop the use of cling film on the boat. We have bought some Bee’s wax wraps – we have started using them at home instead of cling film. They are cotton coated in beeswax. They are moldable with the heat of your hand but can be washed in cold water.

Refillable wine boxes In order to reduce weight of glass on board and space, last year we moved to wine boxes. But of course these have non recyclable foil/ plastic bladders. Whilst we were in Latvia we found refillable plastic bladders – so we will give these ago. We will let you know what happens.

Problem areas – the galley and heads still produce a fair amount of plastic. This is what we need to focus on next. So do let us know any tips or suggestions.


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