So we have been found by Clean Sailors
“Sailors who love the sea, mobilising the global sailing community in conservation of our oceans.”
A not for profit organisation who are based in one of our favourite places: Falmouth (Cornwall). We look forward to being able to sail there and meet up.
Well worth reading their pages and supporting them. We think their aims are great.
For us the issues around plastic in our Oceans are a significant set of issues within the big picture of the Climate Emergency and acting for Climate Justice.
So many of our changes to Vida, in the name of Sustainability, work towards this:
- Shampoo, soap, washing up liquid etc We have been using Soap bars, Shampoo bars, Toothpaste Tablets and Bamboo toothbrushes for over a year now. Also I’ve been using a “Crystal Deodorant Stick” for months, which has been great. I’m still using up old stocks of shaving stuff, but have a traditional safety razor, blades and a shaving foam bar ready to go. All plastic free (packaging as well as contents). Been shopping mostly from Anything But Plastic and Ecovibe
- Removing waste water seacocks and grey water plans. We are now going to explore adding filters to catch any microplastics before they get into the tanks. So wherever our grey water gets pumped out (ideally into a shore based sewage system), or on ocean crossings into the ocean it should be free of harmful products.
- Toilets: I’d like to see as bit more focus on toilets on the Clean Sailors agenda. We should never be putting raw sewage into the sea and composting toilets are, in our firm opinion, the very best option. They are just about the simplest, they don’t require any plumbing, they don’t use any chemicals, they don’t require you to work with sewage pipes or tanks etc etc. I have been thinking about how we might be able to empty our solids into reusable boxes rather than plastic bags. That would enable us to store aboard until fully composted for safe use on any ground.
- Antifouling paint. So we think we have a good solution for removal and at least one option for what to put on that shouldn’t be toxic (effectiveness is unclear though).
- Zero fossil fuels so no diesel or petrol pollution (from the dinghy outboard, main boat engine, boat heating, water heating, watermaker)
Clothing and Laundry
Reading the Clean Sailors got me thinking further about clothes and washing them. We have mentioned Laundry before and we have been careful to move to clothes with far fewer plastics. However, I think we need to do more. In hot climates Rash tops are clearly really practical for sun protection and are easy to wash/dry. However, they are essentially plastic (more and more of them are using recycled plastic, some are made from plastic recovered from the sea) and when washed they will shed microplastics. We haven’t seen any live-aboard cruisers with any form of filtration system and many people are (very understandably) doing their washing in buckets with rainwater and then tipping it into the sea.
We will be looking for a microplastic filter that can be used with a high capacity funnel. This can then be put into a cockpit drain and all water from washing clothes filtered on it’s way into the sea (recommendations for a suitable filter are needed please). Our preference is still to combine a “WonderWash” style hand powered washing machine with an electric spin dryer (needed to stand a chance of drying warm clothes in a British winter). The water from both these can go through the filter.
I was reading that most microplastics are shed in the first 8 washes. Would seem sensible not to wear a new garment for swimming until you have washed it a few times and caught those microplastics before they get into the sea.
Using a public laundry service isn’t going to help in places that do not have efficient microplastic filtration systems in their waste water processing (does anywhere?)
I’d like to see a bit more emphasis on improving the facilities and standards for boat users. A few examples:
- Rather than just putting pressure on consumers to avoid single-use plastics we should be stopping suppliers and shops using them in the first place.
- Instead of asking boat owners not to put waste water with microplastics into the sea we should be providing legislation on grey water tanks and filters, on more places to pump out, on restrictions on where we can empty tanks (as Turkey have)
- We need more legislation on recycling at every level. On the materials used, on the places to put waste for recycling and on making sure it really does get recycled. It is pointless to put pressure on consumers if there are no plastic free items to buy, few places to put stuff for recycling and if at the end of the day it is shipped abroad into waste piles without being actually recycled.
Plus we still need to make the connections. Plastic waste is one aspect (that does need dealing with) of unsustainable living. There are many more, they all need to be tackled if there is to be any chance of a Sustainable future with Climate Justice for all people. The big picture is needed to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the need to work for Clean Oceans as well as Zero Fossil fuels as well as Healthy Soil as well as eliminating Poverty, stopping wars, protecting eco-systems etc etc. They are all important, most are highly interconnected (eg poverty, war, fossil fuels) and we do not have time to tackle them one at a time.