I certainly don’t consider myself a rabid environmentalist, but I do very much care about reducing my impact on the planet. And that is especially the case when it comes to preserving and improving the quality of the Northwest waters where we spend our time boating.
One thing that dawned on us during our summer of living aboard our boat was just how green the lifestyle is. I would wake in the morning and happily see our solar panels already filling up the battery bank. I kept careful track of our water usage and found we probably used less in a week than most people do watering their lawn in the morning. We also try to make use of those sails whenever possible to get us from one place to the next. And did I mention that we use a composing head?
But there was one area where we were our green creds were difficult to live up to — recycling.
Recycling is practically a religion in Seattle, as many of you know. The city has done a lot over the years to make it as easy as possible — to the point where the recycling container is three times as large as our trash container at home.
But on the boat, things are different.
Don’t get me wrong. We love our 1989 Island Packet 38. But the designer didn’t give a whole lot of thought to making an effective space for trash, much less anything for recycling. And from what I can tell, we aren’t the only boat with that problem.
So what’s a conscientious boat owner to do with those empty beer bottles, chili cans, egg cartons and cardboard boxes?
Ideally, of course, it would make the most sense to try and dispose of the packaging as soon — or even before — products come aboard. So, for example, the coffee beans go right into a plastic air-tight container. But you know, that doesn’t work so well with the six-pack of Alaskan Amber.
I’m a believer that everything should have a dedicated space aboard a boat. But we seriously couldn’t find any place to keep an adequately sized recycling container. I’ve seen a few clever solutions – including one couple who keep a large plastic bin in their bilge and simply lift the floorboard and toss in their recycling until it’s full.
But no such solution presented itself to us. Finally, Deborah just started keeping a paper bag in our guest stateroom and we made do with that effective, but inelegant solution.
This winter, I hope to renovate parts of our galley to make better use of space below the sink. We plan to add some much-needed drawers and pots and pan storage that makes sense. As part of that project, I would also like to create a system to better deal with trash and recycling.
But before we get to the planning stage, it seemed like a good idea to find out what other Three Sheets Northwest readers have done to deal with onboard recycling. Is there a magic approach that we haven’t discovered yet? Do you recycle at all aboard?
Tell us about your recycling solutions in the comments section below.