Vanessa Moberg searches for recycling facilities in the town of Port McNeil with two months of recycling on her back. Vanessa and her husband Robert Moberg are currently living off on a sailboat in Northern B.C. and are looking for ways to reduce their plastic use, as Vanessa explains in this column. Robert Moberg/Vanessa Moberg photo.

OPINION: Plagued by Plastic

Writing from her home on a sail boat, columnist Vanessa Moberg shares creative ways to recycle out at sea

My husband Robert and I, an environmental filmmaker and conservationist respectively, have decided to really practice what we’ve been preaching.

We’ve rented out our house, sold our car, relinquished most of our belongings, and moved aboard a 34-foot sailboat we’ve named For Good.

Our goal is to find hope for the earth in our tiny home on the big blue – a mission we’ve dubbed Sailing For Good.

One of our areas of interest is ocean pollution – the vast majority of which is plastic.

We’re looking for hope because, well, the situation is dire.

I recently read that “virtually half of the plastic ever manufactured has been made in the past 15 years” (Plastic, by Laura Parker, National Geographic, June 2018, pg. 59). That’s depressing.

And while recycling plastic is important — very important, keep up the great work! — refusing plastic is far better.

Read More: Williams Lake city council keen on single-use plastic ban proposal

Unlike glass and aluminum which can be recycled over and over, many plastics can only be recycled once or twice before they must be “down-cycled” and made into another product, like clothes or carpet, which will likely not be recycled at the end of its life.

Fun fact: did you know chewing gum is made from plastic? Apparently, plastic is ubiquitous.

We knew that reducing our consumption of single-use plastics on a sailboat would be tricky. After all, plastic doesn’t shatter in rough seas!

And even for people with stationary houses, a goal of plastic-free is, at present, quite daunting, and certainly not possible without drastic changes, which are never usually realistic or sustainable.

So instead of trying to be perfect, we enter this plastic-reduced life from a position of humility, imperfection, and a do-what-we-can attitude.

I hope you’ll join us! Here are a few of the things we’ve done on the sailboat:

When provisioning, I try to purchase produce that doesn’t come pre-packaged in plastic, and I have reusable mesh produce bags, reusable shopping bags, and spares in my purse.

Read More: Local filmmaker Robert Moberg shares powerful message with Way of the Hunter

I also carry cutlery and cloth napkins in my purse, because being able to refuse those silly plastic take-out forks is especially satisfying. For food storage in our galley, we use beeswax wraps.

In the bathroom, I’ve embraced bar forms of almost everything – soap, shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser, and facial oils. These are long-lasting, effective, luxurious even, and are becoming readily available.

We use bamboo toothbrushes – a parting gift from Robert’s sister Pat and her husband Rob — and mouthwash “tablets” which dissolve in your mouth with a little water. While they come in a small plastic recyclable jar, it’s tiny compared to a giant bottle of mouthwash.

And my favourite luxury item is a mason jar of homemade moisturizer from my friend (and brilliant CCCS Communications Officer) Brianna — it makes me smell like chocolate!

Conservation Tip of the Month: There are some seriously cool products available at plastic-free online stores popping up all over the Internet. It’s a fun rabbit-hole!

My wish list now includes bar-form dish soap, laundry soap nuggets, and toothpaste in a tin.

Find out how to follow Vanessa and Robert Moberg’s journey by visiting sailingforgood.tv.

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