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Date: 5 October 2014. Trash Solutions.


All too 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 aboard.

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 that!

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 will grab 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 *process my 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 Primer and 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 vignette Fish Training 101 tells more.


Side Note: 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 component of 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 item just 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 Skipper.

Monti is on the left and Asti on the right.
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 recalled reading:

"The 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 year."

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 trash.
And, are you like me chumming the fish with scraps of food?

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