15 May Cheating on Glass with Plastic (shhh!)

I knew that moving on to a sailboat fulltime was going to be challenging and that I would have to adapt how I live, to suit the change in lifestyle. What I wasn’t expecting was having to resort back to Plastic.

For the last three years I have been living a low plastic lifestyle, avoiding as much single-use plastic as possible. Sure there are times when I falter, but all in all I make it a conscious effort to avoid packaging and plastics like they have some kind of disease.

Why the disgust for plastic?

Well the more I have learnt about it becoming an environmental nightmare the more I can’t stand it. Now it is single use plastic that is the main source of the problem also this computer I am typing on is another eco-disater just waiting to join the other piles of e-waste.

Plastic is made from oil (which by the way is a precious and non-renewable resource) and it doesn’t break down. So every piece of plastic that has ever been made, still exists on the planet today. The worst part is that the plastic that has been tossed, has multiplied. Plastic degrades in the sun. That means it breaks down into little pieces.

micro plastics

This has led to micro plastic particles being found in every corner of the planet and especially creating havoc in our oceans. Microplastics are being ingested by fish and other sea creatures and sea birds leading to death and toxicity. We are eating fish who feed on plastic. Seriously… mega problems here!

This is all for convenience sake. When we use a disposable spoon, cup, or bag it’s because we want to eat, drink, or carry something NOW!!!!

plastic spoon

There are reusable alternatives for all of these, but it takes time and energy and effort to think about bringing them with you. Over the last three years it has become habit for me. No single use plastic. In fact when I got married three months ago my husband put it in his vows. He vowed to never use plastic bags again!  What a sweet heart, that’s how much I dislike single use plastic.

So here comes the dilemma.

Glass breaks.

On land my pantry was a beautiful display of reused glass jars. Everything was in glass. No plastic anywhere to be seen. It made me proud.

Moving onto the boat I brought my glass with me, determined to make it work. I was going to buy socks from the op-shop and pad all my glass jars with multiple layers of socks. Day two on the boat a glass broke. In our ice box too. We weren’t even moving, we were stable in the pen.

I knew at that point it wasn’t going to work. I had to break up with glass. Tear.

At the same time as making the move onto the boat I had to start thinking and planning how we were going to store food supplies for 8 months. On an average sailboat the provisioning consists of tin canned goods, packaged instant meals where you just add water, and things like pasta and cans of tuna. None of this appealed to the healthy bulk whole food eater that I have become.

I wanted to have life on a boat and good wholesome food too.  Can’t I have both?

Making my own dehydrated meals was one way around this. Bulk shopping was another. How was I going to store all my bulk store goods and dehydrated meals?

bulkstore shopping

Bear with me! Don’t run away labeling me a hypocrite!

I have had to start a new relationship with plastic.

Here is the deal:

  • Space is a valuable commodity on a boat ( I am using Tupperware, but with limited space I can only use a few)
  • Everything gets wet on a boat
  • There are times when you need to make a meal while the ocean is tossing you about
  • Tin canned food is not an option  ( not for my health and not for the waste of aluminium cans while at sea)

So in realising this I picked myself up and forced myself to go to the supermarket ( which is a place I broke up with a long time ago too!)

I went and got some plastic Ziploc bags! I can’t tell you how disgusting I felt, it was the walk of shame as far as I am concerned. I didn’t want to see anyone I knew. I Looked at the brands and I got BPA free ones, and even a brand that says they are “bio-degradable” ( I have my doubts).

With my plastic free living behind me I knew that I wasn’t buying these Baggies for a use and dispose purpose. Every single one of these Ziploc bags will be used and reused until they are thin and/or break ( even then I can repair them too to make them last longer). Then when they are finished I will be holding onto them until I can get to a place that recycles light plastics. None of these will go to landfill on my watch.

So I guess the moral of the story is if you can’t avoid single use plastics then it’s about the consciousness with which you use them and how you dispose of them.

I am aiming to make our boat as waste free as we possibly can. I will keep you updated on how we go. But for now I have had to limit my glass collection to just a few carefully padded jars ( for my Kombucha and Kefir probiotics drinks – non-negotiables)

Our sailing lifestyle will lower our ecological footprint significantly, but there are a few sacrifices I see that we will have to adjust to, to make it work.

‘Glass, I know we will be together again in the future.  I am sorry but I have to go back out with plastic, it just meets my needs more right now.’

Until then I will just keep dreaming of my pantry looking like this again!

Plastic Free Pantry

Got any other ideas for me? Share in the comments below. ( please be kind!)


Jamie Van Jones

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  • Kate Reid
    Posted at 09:08h, 17 May

    One of the issues on a boat is obviously damp and mildew, but I wonder how you would go if you stored certain things in cloth bags?
    ie you could keep different types of pasta in cloth bags, in a larger plastic box?

    And some of those things that had been stored in glass jars could be transferred to stainless steel or aluminium canisters rather than plastic containers (yes, aluminium is the result of a disastrous mining technique, but it is the most easily and cheaply recyclable of metals).

    Also, if you do have to use plastic, Tupperware is actively involved in trying to use recycled materials if possible – for example, some of their products are made from old garden hoses – and they profess to be BPA free.

    • Jamie Van Jones
      Posted at 16:43h, 17 May

      Hi Kate, Thanks so much for the response. You are right about things getting wet on the boat. We have a couple cloth bags, but fear of food spoilage is quite a big concern. So the plastic is better in that regard. I have a few metal tins that we are using, the one down side to those is the fact that we have limited space, so the amount of Ziplocs that I can fit in a storage cupboard versus plastic Tupperware or tins is quite a lot more. But I am definitely trying to find a balance between optimal space and reduced plastic. Thanks again for the tips!