Dearest Water-based friends,
I Have decided to put together a little “Plastic Free Galley Guide” to give us all a helping hand at living a little lower impact. Avoiding plastic has been a part of my life for around 4 years now, and it is easy to fall into the idea that everybody else must also be working on minimising their waste because, why wouldn’t you? However sadly, that probably isn’t the case.
We all live and work on the ocean, so it is in our best interest to take good care of it. Without clean sea’s, there is no work for you or me. ~ I think the hardest part about this challenge is not compromising on delivering an excellent level of service. Hopefully none of theses tricks mean that has to happen, conversely I have found that limiting my wastefulness leads to fresher, tastier, healthier food in many cases.
So enjoy! If you have any further recommendations or comments you would like to add, do please let me know. I am always keen to learn more. 😘🌊🐚🌬
Best wishes and fair winds,
S x x
Be Prepared / Take your Time / Accept some Sacrifices
Be prepared - plastic free living is only possible (particularly working on a busy yacht ) with a little bit of pre planning. Take your canvas bags, your water bottle, your refillable coffee cup, your metal straw and your cutlery with you whenever you can. Leave it in the crew car, or take a mini kit in your hand bag. Stepping it up a level, it is becoming more and more acceptable now to take a tupperware with some grease-proof paper straight to the delicatessen when you buy meat or fish. It might feel weird the first time, but you will soon get used to it and most people at the counter don't mind. Usually they are pretty impressed! Plus side, no packaging with meat or fish juice on it in the rubbish making it smell! I'm pretty sure you always get the best meat/ fish cuts from the deli counter in any supermarket. So it's a win win!
Take your Time - When time is limited it is definitely tempting to cut corners, soaking dried beans and pulses overnight may seem like a lot of effort. But it is by far the cheapest and healthiest way to eat them. No added chemicals or preservatives, far less packaging and you can use them in a variety of ways across a range of dishes, no one will ever know!
Accept some Sacrifices - This one comes more in the personal treats department. You might think you need the cheeseburger in the polystyrene box at 3am, or even the plastic bottle of smoothie after the supermarket ( personal vice there) But I am afraid learning zen-like self control is all part of the process. 😝
1, Water - Drinking water on yachts has long been a point of contention. Guests prefer and are often granted bottled water, creating hug, HUGE amounts of waste. Which are then deposited, often on Islands where there is little or no way of disposing of them. We can do better than that. As an industry with vast amounts of money being poured into it annually. We can definitely do better. If you do not have a UV filter installed making the tank water safe. Please, please make it a priority. There is absolutely no reason not to, we can have multiple filters and a cooling system installed that will mean the water is entirely safe and delicious. I do understand that it may be hard to broach the subject with Captains/Owners. But it is only by stepping forward and speaking up that anything is going to change.
2, Bread - On the last boat I worked on I was lucky enough to have a bread maker. This revolutionised both my efficiency and the amount of waste we were creating daily. The bread was delicious, and the machine + ingredients took up far less room than storing enough bread for owners and guests for two weeks. Plus I never had to worry about dashing to the bakery in the morning. Often I would put it on last thing at night and it would keep the fresh bread warm until breakfast. I would then put another loaf in after lunch. It lived in a cupboard that slid out next to the sink and took up next to no room. REVOLUTIONARY.
3, Snacks- which brings me on to snacks. Potentially the next culprit of excessive packaging and waste (after water?) I would love to here any fun suggestions for one you make yourselves? But my favourite are date, walnut and peanut "power balls"dipped in dark chocolate and dusted with desiccated coconut. They are better than Mars Bars. I promise.
4, Beez Wrap- Is a fun new-ish product that is getting easier and easier to find in health food shops all over the place. I also just found out that you can make your own ( not tried that yet though!) It is a re-usable, washable food wrap, for covering things in the fridge, or when you are out and about. Super simple, super clever.
5, Silicone Bags- reusable, washable, hard wearing alternatives to zip-loc bags. They are SO useful, you can marinade things in them, you can Sous-Vide in them. Because like it or not, even at 60 degrees C there are chemicals leaching out of that ziploc into your chicken breasts. Make sure you get certified food-safe ones, but they are on Amazon and the planet will be Oh-So Thankful.
6, Blender/Juicer, I do not have a fancy blender/juicer at home. Its a very basic, supermarket one that is totally tiny and easy to use. But I use it for EVERYTHING. Juices and smoothies in the morning. Hummus and dips at lunchtime, soups, sauces and pestos at dinner. They might BE plastic, but they can save so much packaging if you put your mind to it 😊.
7, Easi-Yo- This might be on that you haven't heard of, as they are mostly popular in New Zealand, where i'm pretty sure everybody has them! Easi- Yo is a power-free yogurt maker, that is basically a giant thermos. You can pick one up on Amazon, as well as the sachets, then you mix with water and wait 6-8 hours. They make around 1L of yogurt, which you can potentially get through in one day on a super yacht. Which is going to save you a lot of little yogurt pots in the bin.
8, Whole Chickens- a funny one I know, have you noticed that a whole chicken is often around the same price if not cheaper than three packaged chicken breasts? Yes it takes a little more time, but you get far far more meat from your money, plus you can make stock. Often these are just wrapped in thin plastic, without the polystyrene tray, those polystyrene trays are really difficult to recycle.
9, Pasta Rollers, when we consider the main culprits of plastic waste onboard, pasta packaging definitely springs to my mind. Whilst rolling pasta does take sometime and effort, it is also really fun and nice to do as a group. So why not make it for crew and not just for boss trips? It can be dried and stored, it just uses flour and eggs. Once you try making and eating your own pasta, I swear you will never go back.
10, Recycling and waste Management. On a final note, I do not expect any of us to have the time or energy to do this all the time. I know it is hard, and our lives are difficult enough as it is, these are simply ideas and suggestions. If you can tackle one of the things on this list then you are doing better than if you hadn't tried. The sad reality is that we, as yacht crew are so privileged, we get to visit the most beautiful places in the world in the name of work. But with great privilege comes great responsibility, many of the places we visit do not have the infrastructure to deal with the amount of waste we produce on these boats. It is up to us to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. By minimising waste at the root of the problem we can far improve our chances of dealing with the rubbish we do make properly. So finally, recycle where you can- even if you have to drive there, wash it properly, and recycle it responsibly. It is not anybody else's responsibility to deal with your waste. Never, ever throw plastic or cigarette butts in the sea. If you see someone doing this please PLEASE pull them up on it.
Finally (I promise), know that this is a real problem that nobody else is going to solve for us. It is in the yachting communities, both sail and motors, interest to make changes that stop us harming the environment we live and work in. One day you will be happy you did.