By now if you’re not aware, the weather is changing rapidly and it’s pretty alarming the amount of damage being done on an annual basis from nothing other than bad habits. This is a proven fact and if you don’t believe it, I am not sure what to tell you. I’m not a scientist, I’m not telling anyone what to do, but I do feel very strongly about the impact our capitalist culture has on the world around us and how we are capable of changing our habits for the overall health of our oceans and air we breathe. Literally doing anything is better than nothing. Because I follow so many environmentally friendly sailing people, it seems like common knowledge. However, in the event that it is not, it couldn’t hurt to repeat a few key aspects of climate change and what we can do to combat it.
It never even occurred to me the “Recycle” in the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) is last… as in we should be Reducing our waste first, Reusing what we can second, and Recycling at what we can not reuse. This had a pretty strong impact upon realizing I thought I was doing the best I could by recycling everything. In Mexico, recycling centers are difficult to find. You have to take your items there, and honestly, who is going to do that? I don’t have a vehicle, so I certainly don’t as I already have enough on my plate as a solo sailor.
I’ve decided I need to use less overall. There are “Zero Waste” lifestyles which I am completely perplexed by (and in awe of!) as well as “Plastic Free” lifestlyes. After walking the docks on the weekends with a telescoping fishing net collecting all the trash I possibly could before the tide whisked it away, I was very saddened to see just how much of it was plastic. Bottles, food containers, soo many different sizes of plastic bags, shampoo bottles, tooth brushes, fishing gear, buckets, etc.
There are a few key things I think are important to know.
- Single Use Plastics: as in you open a package, and toss it in the garbage once you are done using it. These items, such as plastic water bottles, create so much unecessary garbage. If you can purchase a metallic water bottle and refill at home, school, work, etc. you would already be saving literally tons of plastic pollution a year.
- Microplastics: You know those little beads in hand soap and body wash? Those are being mistaken for food and fish are eating them, which of course leads to their illness and death. Many brands are no longer using them, but if you have any soaps with this please refrain from using it or purchasing it again. I did not know this until writing this post, but they are contaminating the air as well.
- Not everything that is thrown in the recycling is actually recycled. This was sad to learn, which further solidifes why I am trying to reduce my use all together.
- Cigarette Butts: The unthought of pollutant! A company in San Francisco (and others have popped up) with solutions to recycle these and keep the billions a year out of landfills.
- Composting: Put your food scraps in with the landscaping bin if your city does not do composting or if you have no desire or space to compost. The city of San Francisco has mandated composting and with other strict measures, has reduced what ends up in the landfill by 80%! Food scraps will naturally deteriorate, on the boat I just throw them overboard and let the fish eat them.
- Collection Programs: I know that IKEA allows you to drop off batteries, CFL light bulbs, and other hazardous materials, but there are other collection programs out there. I came across this website with all kinds of collections for items I wouldn’t have thought belong anywhere other than the trash.
It’s taken me years to understand a lot of this, and living in San Francisco greatly helped me understand just how dangerous this “trashy” lifestyle is, and how it absolutely is possible to make a few small changes to our daily habits for a greater impact. While most of the pollution is coming from manufacturers, it is so important to be smart about our purchases and habits.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out the websites mentioned or feel free to ask me any questions! I’m learning about this along with you, we can learn together and hopefully reverse the damage being done.