Recycling aboard

Here is a link to an article I wrote for the October 2015 issue of SAIL MAGAZINE about recycling aboard. You have to really hunt for it so I’ve rewritten it here below.

While in Horta recently I was rafted up next to Paul and Sheryl Shard from the TV show “Distant Shores”. You can enjoy their great show about sailing to “Distant Shores” on the AWE cable channel.
Sheryl had recently bought a Sailrite sewing machine and was setting up for the first time. I mentioned the “Recycling Bag” idea to her and she thought it was a good one. Not only is it simple to sew, it makes recycling much easier on the boat. It gives recycling a place that is out of the way and convenient to use.

Every day in america we use about 80 million plastic drink bottles. Only about 25% of them get recycled, the rest end up in a landfill or unfortunately, some end up on beautiful beaches.
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Bahamas 2011 232

Here is a picture of the recycling bag in our boat. Notice how it hangs over the water. If there are any drips from a can, it ends up in the water and not on the boat.
Recycle 001 (2)

We recycle everything we can when coastal cruising or island hopping. We always try to minimize the amount of recycling that we load onto the boat in the first place, but a sailor’s got to have his beer, thus cans. We use the Soda Stream machine to make our own sodas and we use refillable drink bottles for water and to mix those individual Crystal Light drink mixes. We still end up with plastic, glass jars, wine bottles, and lots of beer cans.
We do not like to see disposable plastic water or drink bottles on our boat. Each day in the USA we use about 80 million plastic water bottles alone. Some get recycled, most go to the land fill, and some end up on beautiful beaches, most often unintentionally. My routine is to assign a drink bottle to each crew member, identified by color or a number, and then let them be responsible for refilling it and keeping track of it.

The recycle bag is a sturdy mesh material sewn into a two foot by three foot bag with grommets at the top and about half way down to hold it in place. We place ours on the outside of the stern rail so that it hangs more over the water than the boat. That way, if anything drips, it falls into the sea, and not on the boat. We have ours tied onto the rail so we can remove it and carry it to the recycling center. If you can’t sew one yourself, keep an eye out for any old mesh bag that could be adapted for this use.
Wouldn’t it be great if some marine product company were to make these as promotional give-aways at the boat show? How about it Gill?

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