Environmental Warrior? Nah, more of a Rambler.
We all know that the “environment” is a hot/on-trend topic at the moment particularly in respect of plastic waste. I admit to being fairly unconnected when I lived on land. I filled my recycling boxes the council provided and felt like I was being environmentally friendly but I gave little or no thought to whether or not I should be purchasing the item in the first place.
Since living on the water we have seen at first hand the problem of plastics in the sea. Here in the marina we keep a net on the pontoon to fish out rubbish as it floats past. Most days is at least two trips to the bin with something in the net; plastic bottles, bags, crisp packets, cigarette ends. Cartagena port also has a little boat which spends each day meandering up and down collecting rubbish.
When we were sailing down the Atlantic coast of Spain/Portugal, twice we turned around to investigate an unidentified item floating past and both times it was a helium filled balloon which we took on board. I’m sure Dora the Explorer (one of the balloons) would be upset to think she could have ended up as turtle/whale killing trash. If I had a penny for the number of plastic bottles we saw …..
I’m not preaching to anyone and don’t want to sound as though I am but just to say I have started to think differently. In early posts in my blog I talked about how we are much more careful with our fresh water supply. When you have to lug it back to the boat in jerry cans you are much more conscious of how much you use. I still have a thermos jug which we use to put in hot water left after boiling a kettle which can then be used for washing up later in the day.
I have more recently really started to try and put some eco-friendly practices into play. Some without much effort due to our circumstances. For instance in the marina where the showers have a push button which gives you about a 10second splurge of water. It is easy to use less water by not constantly having the shower running over you. Two pushes wets me and my hair so I can shampoo. Another 2 pushes rinses my hair. I use one of those shower buff-puff thingy-me-bobs which means that I use much less shower gel as a small squeeze suds up really well. A good old rub then 2-3 pushes to rinse me down and I’m done. So much less water used.
In the supermarket I’d like to unpack any pre-packed veg and similar products and leave it behind but I must admit that here I am nervous of the language barrier as I can’t explain what I am doing. I’d be much more likely to do this back in the UK. I’m interested to know if the UK supermarkets are providing areas and bins for people to do this after going through the checkouts? I say no to straws, bags I don’t need whether paper or plastic. I’m looking at plastic items and deciding if they have a “lifetime” of use then that is acceptable to me. For example, I bought some new plastic boxes for storage and I expect to get years of use from them. What I try not to buy is that small bottle of water which I will empty in few mouthfuls and then dispose of the bottle for recycling. It’s only recently that I’ve thought that the process of recycling itself has an impact. We tend to recycle into plastic bins, the recycling needs to be collected usually by a diesel lorry, the plant that recycles it is using fuel to run it’s machinery…
I’ve bought a couple of things in my eco-rambling including bamboo toothbrushes (you just cut off the nylon bristles and recycle the handle, much less plastic waste). I’ve been trying to get eco friendly washing up liquid, clothes liquid and cleaning products but the supermarkets here don’t seem to stock any. I do have some bicarbonate of soda and a bit of white wine vinegar (that I got in the UK) which I know can be good for many cleaning jobs particularly in the kitchen. Neil has changed from disposable razors to longer lasting blades.
I’d also like to get some bamboo cotton buds. The image of that tiny seahorse carrying a cotton bud was horrible. Washable kitchen roll, re-useable wrap instead of cling film and re-useable net bags for buying loose produce are also on my list of items I’d like to get. I was asked if I wanted a set of Cora Balls, used for collecting fibres that come off clothes during washing so they don’t end up in the water but as I use public laundries I would be worried about them going missing and they are not cheap. I do have under the galley floor some dryer balls which help reduce drying times in a tumble dryer. However, I rarely use a dryer anymore. I bought them when we still lived in the cottage.
It was Fashion Revolution week a few weeks back over the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1,138 people and injured many more in 2013. Fashion Revolution encouraged millions of people to ask brands #whomademyclothes and demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain. We are being asked to reduce our consumption of clothing/fabric and to repurpose or wear our existing clothes more often. The fashion industry is the 2nd most environmentally damaging industry after the oil industry. The more I looked into this, and re-watched the documentary True Cost, the more disturbing the information I found.
We have been good at making do and mending at least with a pair of Neils work shorts. They have now finally bitten the dust but reminded me of Trigger’s Broom. I had patched the back numerous times but when the fabric started to rip on the front as well we decided he had certainly had his wear from them and said goodbye. I even cut out the denim patches to reuse again.
I’m no angel and I’m not going to 100% turn away from what I know could ultimately be bad for the environment. I probably would still have a coffee machine that used individual plastic pods if we had not been moving to live on a boat and so I gave it away. Although knowing what I know now about coffee pods, I’d like to think I would stop using them. I will continue to use wet wipes, liquid soap and buy the occasional piece of clothing from those brands who we suspect do not have best practices or at least encourage fast fashion with rock-bottom prices. I am however more conscious of what I purchase and think more about not just the fact “it’s Ok it can be recycled” but also “where did this come from in the first place and what is the impact of it’s production on the environment and person who made it”. I know a lot of what I buy/consume has a plastic element but where I think I can make a difference, I’d like to try.
I’ve used the word conscious a lot, which is difficult as I can’t spell it without looking it up, but I think that is important not to be led sheep like into buying things without conscious thought (yes I spelled it incorrectly then too).
I follow a page on Facebook called 1 Million Women which was started in Australia but has members worldwide, including me, and some of their posts make me roll my eyes in incredulity. Who wraps individual avocados in plastic for the supermarket shelves. Are the supermarkets not listening to the “buzz”.
I have listed below a few links to articles and items that I have found interesting. I know that there are many many ways to recycle, make do and mend, reuse, up-cycle and keep our impact on the environment to a minimum and that I have covered a tiny part. As I said, please do not think I’m preaching and I’m not stood in a glass house throwing stones. However …
As an aside, I use Milton Sterilising fluid when cleaning our water carriers and tanks. With the smiley picture of a mother and baby on the front you’d think it was a harmless product. However, it seems to have exactly the same properties as bleach, including bleaching out a t-shirt that I splattered some diluted fluid onto. Also cleaned up some plastic furniture lovely too.
Fashion Revolution – “We love fashion, but we don’t want our clothes to come at the cost of people or our planet.”
A message from David Attenborough “Plastic Oceans” and this was filmed in December 2010!
Plastic Oceans want to change the world’s attitude to plastics within a generation
The True Cost – Who Pays the Price for our Clothing. The full film is currently on Netflix, well it is on Netflix Spain.