Date: 5 October 2014. Trash Solutions.
often I read things such as "our human species
is basically too lazy to properly destroy our own refuse" when
referencing the new regulations designed to encourage folks to
forego plastic shopping bags. As a long-term boater I do not want
excess trash aboard. That's not just because I prefer not to carry
it out to the boat but most importantly because I have to get rid
of the trash too and that is w-o-r-k. In the meantime I have developed
some solutions that might work for your life too, be it on dirt or
There are a few things I do to
make my life afloat easier. Aboard Seaweed and in my purse are a few
grocery bags I have sewn from old spinnaker fabric. They are light
weight and take little room. My daughter gave me one that looks like
a strawberry when folded for Christmas one year.
This is one of mine. It is not fancy
but it does work.
Side Note: The above is is one of my
older ones and the shoulder straps are narrow. That is a bad idea.
Wider bands are easier to carry with heavier loads. Trust me on
What I like best is that the bags are
thin, light weight and strong. A few tucked into the purse
make hauling items back to the boat easier on the hands and fingers.
But I definitely prefer those with wide handles.
I use the bags to carry home
groceries. Yes, I might accept one or two plastic bags while out.
Like others I use them for taking trash to shore. However most of my
garbage goes back into the containers of the items I have purchased.
An empty box of crackers will be
filled with trash rather than flattened. When I buy a carton of sour
cream, I do not throw away the plastic container empty. Instead I
fill it with trash. Ditto peanut butter jars.
It is amazing how much you can fit
inside a plastic container. Go to a laundromat and bring home a few
empty detergent containers. They hold a lot, are generally airtight
and can fit an amazing amount of refuse. Pack your containers full
and you will be surprised how small a footprint of trash you will have
to get rid of in the end.
Laundry day is a lot of work.
Each time I go to shore, I
a stuffed cookie box, or a
detergent bottle and toss it into a
garbage can. Problem solved.
Do you buy oil or vinegar in one
gallon plastic jugs? Well, you can fill those up with trash. This
will take a bit of effort but is worth the effort. The stuffed
container can become quite heavy, so be
aware of that too.
Tin cans are bulky. That's why I
opt to spend the little extra for foil packaged foods. Foil takes less
room aboard Seaweed and the refuse is much smaller. The article
Food in Foil
offers some suggestions regarding quality products, and those that
are not so good.
Mostly I use glass jars and
own meats. Tin cans are not a big issue aboard Seaweed. About the
only thing I have in cans are small ones of condensed milk -- for my
clam chowder, and for those who prefer it to powdered creamer in
their coffee. [Not to name names or anything, but that would be you, Pam,
my website commenter extraordinaire!]
*The preservation of meats in
glass jars is described in the articles Canning
Processing in Pressure Cooker.
If you are a novice start with the primer piece. For those familiar
with this method of making meat safe to store without refrigeration,
the second describes how I have successfully canned foods for the
lockers. YMMV. (Your Mileage May
Vary, also known as don't blame me if yours messes up!)
Most organic garbage goes over the
side. But first I bang on the hull three times. Then I toss things
like egg shells from my hard-boiled eggs into the water. Fish do like 'em. The
Fish Training 101
When you're at a
place for a while, the fish will come to the surface when you bang
the hull. Have a fishing line with a hook at the end to reap the
benefits of your chumming.
As for me, the easiest
garbage removal is to
be aware of items that will be a pain to dispose of. More than
once I have not purchased something because it was simply too big or
bulky to carry home. Another holdback would be that there was so much packaging, the
looked like more work than inherent value.
That is one reason friends with cars are
such a treat. I might buy a six pack of I.B.C. diet root beer if I
have a way to get it home easily. George (Pat's husband) has brought
me back to the boat from stores more than one time. I am grateful. Their beautiful
dogs, Asti and Monti (two Australian shepherds) are friends with my
Monti is on the left and Asti on
The duo need a little sister (a miniature version) to be named Spu.
Then Pat would have a perfect trio: Asti Spu Monti.
Asti and Monti are rescues, and well-behaved kids.
Plus they like my Skipper, and she (my First Mate) is not always the
best behaved gal on the docks.
Smaller towns such as Carrabelle
where I am doing the engine swap have a charm all of their own. They
do not have everything one would expect at the grocery store in a
larger town. There simply is not the call for some items I consider
if not essential, rather nice to have.
Like manicotti shells... they are
not sold here. That is not something one would want all the time but
it is simply not available locally. Nor is the
Iams MiniChunk Dog Food my Skipper eats anywhere around here. Her flea medicine was bought online
because that is the only way to get it. Fortunately, Miss Connie is
at the local post office and she is a gem.
Miss Connie is my supplier of all
things online. She is a local gal, born and raised in Carrabelle, FL.
It is said the things we like best
are those that we appreciate most. The small town atmosphere found
in abundance in Carrabelle is lovely, but it is the people who make
any place special.
One of the best ways all boaters
can make ourselves welcome is to get rid of our trash responsibly.
Ask permission to use the shore-side facilities. As the SSCA [http://ssca.org]
says, "Leave a Clean Wake" by properly disposing of our trash.
That is one way simple way boaters
can ensure we will be welcomed back and those following will be
treated well too. It is what real cruisers do everyday. This is our world and we want it clean for ourselves and our children.
Addendum 19 June 2015: An online friend tells me my method of
tossing foodstuffs overboard is not appropriate in areas with
little tidal flow.
Summarizing an article in the Seattle Times, Marin
results of a long-term study here in Puget Sound showed that
fish and crabs do not, for the most part, eat the garbage
boaters throw overboard. Banana peels, melon rinds, etc sink
to the bottom where they DO feed the algae that deplete the
water of oxygen. This, in turn, depletes the population of
fish, crabs, etc.
Where this plays a
significant role is in bays, estuaries, fjords, etc with a
relatively low water turnover. Here in Puget Sound it's a
concern because the water turnover is very slow, particularly
in the south sound and Hood Canal. For example, I believe the
time it takes for a complete water exchange in Hood Canal
(which is a long, natural inlet, not a man-made canal) is one
So, I hereby retract my
advice to always throw your scraps of food overboard. Unless
you are in an area with a good flow of water bring your garbage
to shore. Be careful, and do not
mess up our waters.
Thanks Marin for the
head's up. I learned something today.
I'd love to hear what methods you use to dispose of
And, are you like me chumming the fish with scraps of food?
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