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Humans love to suck: glass, steel and bamboo alternatives to plastic straws

The human habit of using straws is older than The Holy Bible, seriously! In fact, the oldest drinking straw was found in a sumerian tomb dated from 3,000 B.C.E. Straws are a useful tool for helping children, elder or disabled people to drink. What’s more, straws are a cool way to prevent the ice of your mojito to spill out of the glass, hitting directly your face when you are trying to slurp the final drops. Having said that, what’s wrong with straws?

International free straw day

 

What’s wrong with straws?

The heartbroken video of the sea turtle suffering from an embedded straw into the nose, was a warning of the alarming situation that we are creating by using single use plastic items. In the United States, 500 million straws are used and discarded every day, enough straws to wrap around the earth’s circumference 2’5 times a day. The UK throws away 8.5 billion straws each year, 4.8 billion in Germany and 3.2 in France. The plastic straws average use is 20 minutes and it takes 500 years to decompose and as far as we know does not disappear. Ever. Every single pieces of plastic ever made, is still out there in some form. There’s is no such thing as throwing it ‘away.’ There is no away. Tossed ‘away’ means it either ends up in landfill for hundreds of years, is burned releasing toxins into the atmosphere, ends up in nature, or is recycled. The plastic straw is in the top six of single use plastics found in the ocean.

What can we do to beat the plastic straw?

Do we really need the straw in our drinks? No we don’t. But it still is a routine add-on in most of the world. Say no to the straw before you order your drink. Or bring your own. By proactively showing up with your reusable straw you can say no to many plastic ones. Many options are out there: glass, stainless steel or bamboo. Heck, you can even use the branch of a papaya tree as a straw.

If you still love to suck, here you can find 4 plastic straw alternatives to keep sucking in a sustainable way.

Plastic Straw alternative 1: Glass straws

Glass straws are like a little piece of art, can be designed in different shapes, colours and do not absorb the taste of other products like reusable plastics straws do. Cons? Glass is not as resistant as stainless steel so it is not the best option for travellers or for children. If you are someone who likes classy stuff for your cocktails or smoothies, glass straws are your best option. Where to buy glass straws?

Glass straw

Plastic Straw alternative 2: Stainless steel straws

Stainless steel straws, are the perfect travelling mate, resistants, unbreakable and on budget, do not absorb any flavour. Also recommended for children. Cons? They don’t look as classy as glass straws and if you don’t like the texture of the metal it can be unsatisfying. Personally, using my stainless steel straw has saved me hundreds of plastic ones. Where to buy stainless steel straws?

stainless steel straw

Plastic Straw alternative 3: Bamboo Straws

Think what nature provides. Bamboo straws are a natural and organic option that you can even DIY at your home. My parents have a big bamboo bush. We cut some, sand them a little bit, and you have a straw. And nature provides other options. In the tropics for example you have the papaya tree of which the branches are little pipes. I’m sure other options exist. Just make sure you don’t destroy what does not need to be destroyed. Cons? Unlike glass and metal, bamboo straws could get moldy if you don’t wash and dry them properly. Where to buy Bamboo straws?

Plastic Straw alternative 4: Edible straws

How cool if you could eat the straw after you finished your drink? Check out what … has created! Now this adds to the drinking experience! Where to buy edible straws?

 


Disclaimer: By buying a reusable straw you will automatically support the oceanpreneurial efforts. As always I only recommended ‘things’ I fully support. This post contains some affiliate links. If you click and buy something, the oceanpreneur will earn a tiny commission.

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What can you throw over board when sailing the ocean? Part 2. On the Ocean

The discussion comes up on every boat setting sail for the ocean. How are we going to deal with waste?  Is it better to throw glass and tin in the ocean or dump it on a little island? What is actually recyclable? How to dispose waste on the other side? Are there recycling facilities in the Caribbean?

I sailed across the Atlantic Ocean 3 times now. I learned a lot on how and how not to do things! I especially saw and learned about the importance and decline of the ocean! Here’s what I learned in the waste department. Surely the intentions of the sailors and yachtsmen are to take best care of the environment. We all love the ocean. And we like to keep it healthy so we can keep exploring this beauty forever! We also love visiting the islands and waste management facilities may be non-existent.

How to deal with waste when sailing across the ocean?

In Part 1. On Shore, I discussed ideas to minimize your footprint as a sailor while still on shore. With conscious provisioning you already reduced your negative impact bigtime.

Now you’re out there. What to do with the waste that you are creating? Here’s Part 2, for once you’re sailing out there.

What can you throw overboard?

  • Organics (food). This can go overboard 12 miles out of the coast. Make sure you do this well ahead before arrival to the Caribbean. Food can bring unwanted bacteria and insects to an island and change the whole ecosystem. Fruit peels can float around for years since it doesn’t get biodegraded at sea on how it does on land.
  • Nothing else but coconut shells goes overboard. The ocean is not a dumping ground. Things might sink and go deep. It won’t be gone. So no glass, no cans, no cardboard, no cigarettes and no paper should go overboard. And definitely no plastic. Never throw anything overboard that doesn’t decompose quickly in water.

Can you throw glass overboard in open sea? NO. It sinks, but never ever disappears.  Yes, it’s made of sand but glass as for what we have created it would never appear in nature like it. We add things for functionality and colour. 50% – 80% of glass is recycled. This is great because it saves a lot of resources and raw materials to make glass from scratch. Leave your glass for recycling.

Can you throw cans overboard in open sea? NO. it sinks, but cans often have a plastic coating. Also, this is a welcome material to be recycled. It does not take many resources to process aluminium into new cans, containers, or maybe even a boat! It does take a lot of resources to extract new raw materials from the earth.

I took my mermaid fins and explored the bottom of the sea. This is what it discovered:


Plastic? No. no. NO! Never ever disappears.

Cigarettes? No! Loaded with chemicals.

Chewing gum? No Chewing gum is plastic.

Cardboard and paper towels? If it’s untreated paper, then it’s ok to throw overboard. If it’s white or has any sort of ink on it, it’s not ok! Almost all paper and cardboard is treated (with ink, UV coating, foils, glues, polymers). White paper towels are treated with chlorine which is a dangerous toxic for your own and the ocean’s health. It should not go overboard. Cardboard usually has ink on it, which is a kind of plastic. This includes the label of a teabag, which is full of ink.

Tea bags? No. They have plastic in it.

Can you throw cans over board when sailng? Nope!

Many pilots, guide books, articles and sailor forums say that tins and glass jars can go overboard in deep seas. After all, they sink and are made from natural materials, right? Accordingly, many sailors do this. However, these articles are usually written from a practical perspective, not from an environmental one. Re-using and recycling can be very practical on board too!  Bottles and tins have been found in the deepest trenches ocean trenches with the brand names and logos still readable.

Considering the critical state the ocean is in, every item that does not come from the sea should not be tossed in. Glass and tins are much more valuable on land than at the bottom of the sea. Recycling uses fewer resources than extracting new materials from the ground. These materials simply do not belong in the ocean. The ocean is not a dumping ground. If you wouldn’t eat it or put it on your skin, why should the living organisms in the sea have to deal with it? Your waste might sink into the deep, but it won’t be gone.

No glass, no cans, no cardboard, no cigarettes and no paper should go overboard. And definitely no plastic! Never throw anything overboard that doesn’t decompose quickly in water. Even fruit peels can take years to biodegrade at sea. They are valuable to land as compost. Do the best you can to close the loop and contribute to the circular economy.

 So how to process the waste on board when sailing?

Here are some ideas:

  • 3 buckets/ containers in the galley:
    • One for organic waste. Several times a day you can throw it overboard (Be wind aware;)!)
    • A bag or basket for recyclables
    • If you do well the waste bucket is the last that gets full!
  • Rinse waste with saltwater to avoid smells and the introduction of invasive species when disposing of in a new destination. Especially meat, cheese and dairy packaging should be rinsed well.
  • Once full get it out of the galley and into a storage container. It helps to separate plastic, tins, cardboard, and glass right away into different bags. Unfortunately, cans, bottles, and jars are not being reused but at least recycled. So far cans and bottles are preferred crushed (Greening the Caribbean).
  • Make an ashtray (you can simply tape a bottle to the boat). Cigarette buts can be tossed in there.
  • Reuse tin cans and glass containers where you can. If you plan to go to remote islands, don’t crush them and you can make someone happy with it. In the Caribbean, it’s preferred to be delivered crushed.
  • In the galley:
    • Cut non recycle plastic (film, bags and thin wrappers) into small pieces to reduce the volume. But in general, if you have place to get it on board, you have place to store it until you can dispose of it properly.
    • Have all organics dumped overboard 12 miles before arriving at the island. You don’t want to bring anything invasive into an island.

Read more about Contributing to a Healthier Ocean in Ocean Nomad, the adventure travel guide to the ocean, for the ocean.

Only interested in reading about the ocean challenges and what we can do as sailing crew? I made the Bonus section of Ocean Nomad (100 pages of Ocean Love & Conservation) available for a bargain on Kindle.

 

What are your ideas on processing waste on board of a sailing vessel?

Udemy

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Ocean friendly gift ideas for positive impact

Just a quick message before the festivities :
Gift FOR the ocean

Here’s a few happy ECO FRIENDLY GIFT IDEAS that can bring a positive impact to a loved one AND a healthier ocean

  1. Creativity

Make a natural straw, make a bracelet from ocean trash, paint a sign from driftwood, write a poem, bake a cake, make a video, draw something, give a message in a bottle.

  1. Experience

Take your cousin out sailing, sing a song, perform a dance, give a surf, yoga or freedive lesson.

  1. A skill

Teach the little one how to swim, help someone with their website, design a logo.

  1. Digital Creations

Give an Online course, E-Book, or service that can help someone thrive.

Give Ocean Nomad E-Book Gift Certificate

  1. Nothing. Just your presence

Nothing is worth more than time spent together. I’m going to meet a new family member and simply BE with my family <3

Last but not least…

  1. BOOK OCEAN NOMAD

CATCH A SAILBOAT RIDE & CONTRIBUTE TO A HEALTHIER OCEAN

“A huge value bomb that makes even the stiffest armchair traveler want to get up, catch a sailboat ride across the ocean. It does a great job in creating awareness of the grave state the oceans are in, and of the huge impact we can make.”

“The information in this book could be life and earth-saving! When you apply it, you can make a difference and a great contribution to not only saving the earth and oceans, but saving your health in the process.”

“The spark that will ignite your sense of adventure and provoke your compassion to creating a better world.”

Available as E-Book gift certificate and Print

 

 

And on: Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon Germany Amazon Spain

Betere Boeken (Holland & Belgium) Bol.com (Holland & Belgium)

 

Thank you for supporting the ocean conservation actions by buying book Ocean Nomad.

My Gift to YOU. A big THANK YOU! For sharing, caring and support to keep me going on the mission to connect more people to the ocean.

Wish you wonderful holidays!

Suzanne

For more gift ideas and ways to minimize impact as an eco-minded adventure traveller check my mega guide on What’s in my eco travelkit

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Becoming a wilderness women: Off the grid eco camp in Dominica

I’m sitting in the shade of a palm tree. In the far distance, I can see the Atlantic, the ocean that brought me to here to Dominica. There are two hummingbirds making a love dance in the tree next to me. They keep falling out of the sky. A fascinating show! Apart from all sorts of bird sounds, I can hear the river. The river where I had my refreshing morning shower. I don’t hear any traffic, rooster, or soca music. I’m off. the. grid. And I love it! I’m zipping a lemongrass-turmeric-cinnamon tea.  Half an hour ago this tea fusion was still growing. I pulled it straight from the food forest.

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Travel packing for the planet: What’s in my eco friendly travel kit?

You want to travel light, compact and purposeful. But that’s not enough!

You want to support innovative social entrepreneurs, and have a positive influence on fellow travellers and locals to help create awareness of solutions out there to make this world a better place. You want to minimize your carbon footprint, your trash trail and the amount of chemicals polluting the environment and your body. You want the best for your health AND make a positive difference in the world that you call your playground. You want to collect memories and not things. You do need to pack something at some point.

But you’re busy. You don’t have the time to sort it all out. You left the packing part to last minute and now you realize it would be good to have done some research so you can travel with a positive impact

What impact do you actually make with the travel gear you take with you? How eco-friendly is your kit?

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