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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 6 plastic straw alternatives to keep sucking in a sustainable way.

Plastic Straw Alternatives

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 Straws in USA/ Canada

Glass Straws in the UK

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 straws in the US / Canada

Stainless steel straws in the UK

Roestvrij Stalen rietjes in Nederland

Another plastic free solution out there is the stainless steel filter straw from LifeStraw. They developed a plastic-free stainless steel straw with filter to always have safe drinkingwater during your travels!

stainless steel straw

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?

Bamboo Straws in the USA / Canada

Bamboo Straws in the UK

Bamboe rietjes in Nederland

DIY bamboo straws

I make bamboo straws from the black bamboo in my parents garden. I don’t sell them but if you like one you can get them HERE by becoming a Patreon.

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?

5: Paper Straws

Are paper straws biodegradable? Some are but not all. Sometimes the ink on the straws is plastic. Paper straws are progression and better than plastic straws. Since most of the paper straws are meant to be used only once, and it still cost a lot of energy to manufacture them, the options above are a better pick.

Paper Straws (US)

6: Straws made from straw

Where do you think the name ‘straw’ comes from? For centuries all drinking straws were made from the stalks of grain. Nature gives us straws. The real hay straw is the perfect alternative for the ‘single use’ plastic straw. They grow in abudance, suck fine, and break down quickly too. And are cheap. I wish to see these and just these in bars

Hay Straws (US)

Hay Straws (Holland)

 

What is your favourite alternative to the plastics straw?

 


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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The Ocean Nomad Book Launch Celebration – Out Now!

Ocean Nomad is OUT NOW!

Fiesta time in Lanzarote last week! The launch of book Ocean Nomad: The Complete Atlantic Sailing Crew Guide – Catch a Ride & Contribute to a Healthier Ocean ! A celebration of a milestone I have been working towards for two and a half years. Back then I thought to ‘just’ write down a few tips into a 20-page PDF. Along the way, I figured to really make an impact for the good, and deliver something of true value, I better do it well or not at all. Now, book Ocean Nomad, is a fact, as an e-book but also print! Ocean Nomad is a 400-page guidebook for sailing across the Atlantic as crew, from dream state to execution state in a safe, happy and meaningful matter. With the book, I aim to connect people to the ocean. When people experience the ocean, they’ll be more triggered to care for it too. The very first print edition of Ocean Nomad has been brought into the world last week in Lanzarote.

Launching on a boat

This milestone was something to celebrate. Of course, on a boat! Easy to choose which boat. I teamed up with Marjo & Edwin of Grace for Ocean Conservation. There’s simply no better venue than the almost 100-year-old wooden sailboat, a perfect example that naturally made crafts last, sustainable in style. I invited my parents, friends and other adventurous souls to join the festivities! Super fantastic to finally be able to share the result of the work. We made it one weekend full of FUN!

Book Launch festivities

On Thursday the VIPs (&first print books!) arrived and we started off with a homemade dinner made by Marjo and a big cheers! I handed out the first copy to Mum & Dad, and to Marjo & Edwin, my ocean parents.
Friday morning was show time! Lanzarote Mix radio set up a studio on the boat and for two hours we were live on air. In the afternoon some press stopped by and we decorated Grace and the pontoon to get the party started! Mum had made party flags. Dad helped to create re-usable bamboo straws. Local artisanal beer crafter NOA provided the beers (If you’re in Lanzarote, you must try this healthy yummy local produce at their brewery). VIPs and supersupporters Karlijn, Roline & Lonneke created the tune list and happy vibes. A great mix of family, friends, (aspiring) sailors, boat hitchhikers, local curious and change-makers made the party! The setting allowed for many beautiful ocean connections have been made. Mission accomplished!
Saturday was sailing ‘o clock! It was a long-awaited dream to finally take my parents and friends out sailing and to share a taste of the lifestyle I’ve been living the last years. We sailed down to Puerto Calero. Here we held a movie screening of Vanishing Sail, a movie about the wooden boat craft that still takes place on the beach in the Caribbean. But for how much longer? After living between the boat builders for two months earlier this year, and sailing one of these beautiful Carriacou Sloops across the Caribbean, I’m determined to do what I can to revive this art. The screening triggered some more souls determined to not let this art of wooden boat building die. I’m looking to organize more screenings. Let me know if you have a group, yacht club or community interested!
Together with the big book, I also launched the ‘Ocean Love & Conservation’ part of the book as a seperate Bonus edition on Kindle for a bargain. This bonus part is about Making the Ocean famous again and what we can do as crew to make a difference for a healthier ocean. We have no time to loose when it comes to saving our ocean. The more people learn about what’s happening to the ocean and what actions can be taken, the better.

An ocean of gratitude

Thanks everyone for making this weekend a mega memorable celebration of life, for life!  Super thanks to Mum, Dad, Roline, Karlijn Lonneke, Edwin & Marjo for being present and sharing the unconditional Ocean Nomad love! A special thanks to my early Indiegogo supporters. And thank YOU for buying the book which will help support the next creation.

A special thanks to partners and sponsors

Thank you Marjo, Edwin & Grace for Ocean Conservation for facilitating and being present! Thank you Puerto Calero for the support. Thanks Justin & Alexis of Vanishing Sail to help to make the screening happen. Thank you Lanzarote Mix for having me on your radio show! Gazette Life for the interview (out mid November). Lava Charter for your enthusiastic presence, support and putting up Ocean Nomad in your nautical shop. Thanks Wayne of Greening the Caribbean for helping create awareness about the book and The Bamboo Brush Society for supporting sustainable tooth brushing.

The Ocean Nomad book tour continues

I did another book presentation in Rubicon Marina. Together with Grace for Ocean Conservation we set up a stand at the Rubicon marina mercadillo.  Now I’m in Las Palmas helping the (aspiring) sailors on a safe, happy, and meaningful ride across. Every Thursday this November at 18.00 I’ll be presente in the Sailors Bay to talk about the book and answer questions. More book presentations and events I’ll mention on www.oceannomad.co

It’s just the beginning

I’m superhappy with the success so far! The first colour edition is almost sold out. Book Ocean Nomad 2, the Caribbean edition, is in far stages. I’m creating an Ocean Nomad book series, and an Ocean Nomad community of like-minded Ocean Adventurers and change-makers. The first Ocean Nomad Reviews give me happy tears.
Publishing a book has been as adventurous as sailing across the Atlantic. I’ll write more about the book publishing process soon on this blog (Ps. I’m recruiting. I need more hands on deck)
Thank you to everyone who helped to make this happen: the book launch and the book! An ocean of gratitude to all!

THANK YOU!

               
        

Available here

Ocean Nomad is available for direct download here, as Kindle here, and as Print on Demand (black & white) on Amazon and Bol. I have a few first edition colour copies left which are available at Lava Charter (Lanzarote), in the Sailors Bar in Las Palmas, and in my duffel bag ;). Grab one of the last very first prints here. Christmas colour pre-order will open soon. Simply curious? Download a free sample.
Press contact: ahoy @ oceannomad.co

Hop on board. Here are the Photos!

Photocredits: Edwin Butter, Jose van der Veeken & party crew.

 Share with your friends!

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Vanishing Sail Filmscreening in Lanzarote – Canary Islands

Earlier this year I fell in love. In love with those wooden boats, I encountered on the beach in Carriacou, Grenada. I was determined to go to Windward Carriacou, where the boats are being built, after seeing this movie Vanishing Sails at the Grenada Sailing Week. So I went. I ended up staying two months. Later, I was lucky enough to sail up one of the beauties for the West Indies Regatta in St. Barts where Carriacou sloops are united for a weekend of fun, adventure, and replicating the trading past. Pure Bliss. Vanishing Sail is a story that needs to be shared with the world to make sure these boats with souls won’t vanish. To keep traditional alive. And dreams alive. My dream is to build one. From pure enthusiasm, I’m hosting a film screening in Lanzarote. Come and watch and get excited about the sloops, Carriacou, and the Caribbean. They can all use a little encouragement.

 

Vanishing Sail, award-winning Caribbean feature Doc in Puerto Calero – Lanzarote!

Vanishing Sail has been making waves all over the world at film festivals and special event screenings and now West Indies Boatbuilding Culture comes to Lanzarote when the Puerto Calero Auditorium will resonate with the sound of caulking mallets on a wooden hull taking shape on a beach in Carriacou, the Land of Reefs!

“If this thing gone from here, everything gone you know…” Alwyn Enoe

On the island of Carriacou in the West Indies, the last wooden sailboat builder dreams of saving a great tradition passed down the generations from Scottish settlers that sailed there centuries ago. The film follows Alwyn’s journey over three years, from hauling trees with his sons, to a final traditional launching ceremony. Stories of the old Caribbean – trading by sail and smuggling contraband interweave a tribute to the independent spirit of a small island community.

“A fascinating story of personal perseverance, ribald tales of smuggling at sea and the completion of the beautiful wooden sloop in a race against time to enter the thrilling Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.” Wooden Boat

“An insightful and poignant documentary that is part social history and part Herzogian portrait of resilience and determination in a far-flung locale.” Indiewire

“A haunting, captivating story that will pull heart-strings and etch in the mind of every viewer.” Classic Boat

“Beautiful…” Derek Walcott

Vanishing Sail is currently available for screening at Special Events, Film Festivals, Boatbuilding Academies, Maritime Heritage Institutions, Yacht Clubs, Fundraisers, Coastal & Caribbean Communities worldwide.

Screening time:  Saturday, October 28, 2017 19:00 PM – 20:30 PM

Attendence is FREE: Indicate attendance here to be sure of a seat (maximum seats)

Trailer & Film Details:  http://www.vanishingsail.com

Trailer:

Vanishing Sail – OFFICIAL TRAILER from Indian Creek Films on Vimeo.

Venue Address:  Auditorium in Puerto Calero

Presenting Partners: Ocean Nomad, S/V Grace of OceanConservation, Puerto Calero Marina,  Boatshed.com & Classic Boat

Call for a Screening Sponsor to make this happen! Learn more. Thank you!

Watch Vanishing Sail

The Screening is part of the Ocean Nomad Book launch festivities. Ocean Nomad is an ocean adventure travel guide on how to catch a sailboat ride & contribute to a healthier ocean.

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How to minimise your waste footprint when sailing the ocean? Part 1.

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 4 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 the 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.

So how to deal with waste when sailing across the ocean?

Part 1: minimize the provisioning footprint 

ON SHORE

We have to be mindful to what we bring on shore on the islands. The Caribbean islands do not have big enough landfalls. Waste is often dumped near the road or burned. Waste in landfalls is often burned as well. So is it better to just throw things like cans, and glass in the ocean? How can we as sailors best tackle this waste management issue on boats?

Here are some ideas to minimize your footprint as a sailor while still on shore:

  • Number 1. Do you very best buying without as little packaging as possible. Be mindful on what you bring on board in the first place. It can really add up. As a crewmember, before you even hop on board minimize, minimize, minimize.
  • Opt for landing at a destination with recycling facilities in place. It’s worth making your first landing on one of these islands for safe disposing garbage.
  • In Spain, Cape Verde, and the Caribbean a plastic bag is still practically mandatory at the supermarket. Always bring your own bags.
  • Choose consciously what you buy:
    • Buy in bulk to have less packaging in the first place. You can store smaller amounts in reusable containers.
    • Paper towels. This is often used lots on board. In many situations, a good old reusable cloth can do the job. If you do use paper, get one that is biodegradable and does not have ink on it (ink is a kind of plastic!). White paper towel is bleached and should not go overboard. Recycled toilet paper and kitchen roll sounds great but is often treated with a lot of chemicals.
    • Cleaning Products. Use biodegradable washing liquid for your own and the health of the oceans. It all drains straight to the ocean. You find this in organic stores (which you can find on Happy Cow). Baking Soda and Vinegar + water remains a good cleaning product, for the boat interior as well as your hair.
    • Use natural biodegradable soaps and shampoos.
    • In Spain, go to the market for your provisioning (not supermarket). At least in Las Palmas, at the market they will pick the greenest fruits and veggies for you which will last the longest. They come and bring it in carton boxes to the boat. It’s the cheapest way, you support the local entrepreneur and not plastic bags. Avoid buying as much as you can from the supermarket. It’s wrapped in so many wrappers and at checkout, they put everything in bags again, even if you friendly ask not to do that. Especially when they deliver goods. Many boats leave from Spain where they still very accustomed to wrap things in multiple packaging.
    • Don’t buy items that contain lots of wrappers: candy, biscuits and tea (in Spain and Cabo Verde many brands even wrap every individual tea bags). Make your own. If you happen to do buy wrapped stuff, get rid off as much packaging as you can if your departure destination has facilities in place.
    • Go to the market with your own reusable bags. If you have foods delivered, see if the marketmen can take back the cardboard and boxes. You don’t want to take those anyway since they are a source of unwanted bacteria, cockroaches.
    • Choose products with recycled packaging or packaging that you can reuse yourself.
    • Use reusable containers to store goods.
    • Reuse items as much as you can– bags, containers, boxes, etc.
    • Get cloth napkins instead of paper.
    • Get wooden pegs, instead of plastic ones.
    • If you don’t have a water filter on board and bottled water is needed, buy the 20Liter bottles + a pump. Water bottles are one of the biggest ocean polluters and not desired in the Caribbean, or anywhere. Read 10 water filter solutions you can use as crew.
    • Please don’t buy balloons for the ocean birthday or halfway party. The wind and sun will have them snap and it’ll get mixed into the plastic soup.

 

We live in a world where convenience and profit still dominate the scene. Walk the extra block. What’s more important? Convenience or continuing a healthy ocean for future generations?

With conscious provisioning, you can reduce your negative impact big time.

What about when you’re out there? Read part 2: What to do with the waste that you are creating? What can go overboard?

Read more about provisioning, long lasting healthy foods to buy and how to deal with waste on the ocean and on the other side in Ocean Nomad – The Complete Atlantic Sailing Crew Guide.

Have you sailed across the Atlantic? Then I’d love to hear from you! I’m now updating the big Atlantic Sailing survey. Your experience will help the next passage makers for a safe and conscious passage. Check it out here.

With a healthy ocean, everyone wins!

“I can sense the enthusiasm coming out at me from the pages and feel that her book is an inspiration and fantastic guide on hitch sailing and ocean preservation. It should be on every yacht out there at sea.”- Steve Green Yacht Master Instructor and Ocean Master

“It is part of my ship’s articles: I want every crew member to read it before they step on board! Not just because it is packed with tips for both captain and crew, but also because it gives a clear insight in the minds of hitch sailors. This is more than a ‘if-you-can-dream-it-you-can-do-it/-if-you-just-put-your-mind-to-it-it-will-happen” –  Captain Edwin Butter of OceanConservation


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Job Opportunity FIRST MATE Ocean Adventure Travel & Conservation Media Assistant

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

Update: The Eco Camp is no more aftern hurricane Maria. But the S family is stronger than ever! Watch their story here on Youtube.
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.

Read more

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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 number 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?

Warning: Long post! Find more plastic-free travel solutions in my lastest #PLASTICFREENOMAD campaign. Disclaimer: No brand is paying me to mention them! Recommendations are based on my own investigation and testing. 
Read more

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Travelling? 70 eco travel tips for a better planet

Are you amongst the fortunate few to be able to travel? Lucky you!
Now let’s make the most out of it! Not just for yourself but for the places and people that you’re visiting. Our travels can bring huge benefits to local communities. It can also destroy a destination. 

What impact do you make?

According to your facebook and Instagram accounts you have been travelling to the most beautiful paradises on the planet. You have eaten exotic delicacies, encountered magnificent wildlife, engaged with fascinating cultures, climbed to the top of the volcano and explored the funderwaterworld. You have memories of a lifetime.

I am one of these lucky bastards.

Lucky bastard exploring paradise

But you also have memories of trash on the beach, begging children, damaged corals, green ski slopes, porters like donkeys, people trying to sell a fruit for almost nothing, no fish today, chained monkeys, and sharks on the market. Just to name a few situations that make us feel bad, though are there daily.

The beach these days in the Gili Islands

You have experienced the preciousness of drinking water, fresh air, power, a roof, freedom, a toilet, feeling safe, internet, a bankcard, a clean beach, and a healthy body. Most normal ‘back home.’ Not for most us in the world.
You are aware of your lucky position in this world. And you really want to do something good. But WHAT can you do?
“I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.” E.B. White 
 If you are able to travel you have the skills or resources to make a positive impact. We can travel AND do good AND save money AND have fun. When we make conscious decisions, we can minimize our negative footprint and maximize the benefit for the place we visit and for the planet as a whole. Every decision and every action counts. Collectively our impact is major. With millions of extra travellers every year and a 1,5 million EXTRA people on the planet WEEKLY, it’s all becoming a bit crowded. Our planet and the destinations we’re visiting are reaching limits to cope with our demands. Climate change is happening and it’s probably worse than you think it is. It’s more important than ever to do your bit. It’s our responsibility to become part of the solution, not the problem

So what can you do?

Here are some easy eco travel tips and actions to make your travel a good one, for the planet and for you:

Read more

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What is slow travel? And how you could! Part 2

How to slow travel if you have only 20 days off per year? It’s not necessarily about the travel time you have. It’s about the meaning you attach to the time you do have. That is slow travel. Read more