Wednesday, January 06, 2010

One Small Change

Hip Mountain Mama set forth a very worthy challenge for the New Year - taking steps from now until Earth Day (and beyond) to live a greener life. Document it. Do it. Make a difference. We can ALL live a little greener no matter how green we color ourselves. So I thought I would start by figuring out what our family does do right to seek out what we can do better.

- RECYCLING (check - although my sweet husband isn't great about getting it to the drop site on time - oops is it Friday already? We have about a 2 block walk from our boat to the nearest curb where it gets picked up. So the recycling tends to pile up and over in the winter and sometimes overflows back into the trash pile. Naughty. Could do better. Need to plan on finding a way to get to the curb on time each week.)

- CLOTH (check - we use cloth napkins and rags and cloth/ glass/ reusable snack containers throughout the boat. It was a change we made a year or two ago and I am so happy about the lack of paper napkins & plastic bags and very few paper towels used around here. Usually we reserve disposable paper for the really gross boat goo.)

- CLEANING (well... we could do better here. I buy cleaning goods from Trader Joes, and while not toxic, it certainly isn't as good as making my own. I need to start being a mad scientist more and making more cleaning products for around the boat. I also need to convince my better half to try the same on the outside of the boat. Especially since I wrote about it for a sailing magazine!)

- POWER! - (check! double check! We run everything except our air conditioning and heating on solar power. And we try to only use those when we're in the thick of one season or another, relying heavily on natural solar gain in the fall and our 22 opening hatches in the summer to do the trick. Using minimal electricity is not just a goal for boaters, it's a MUST. You use too much, you run out. Period. That is until the sun recharges our batteries and we're good to go. It's a system we had on our old boat and we made a priority to set up on this one when we got it just before Zach was born. I love that it's second nature to him to check our power draw - knowing to turn off the heater before using the toaster.)
(2 of our 4 solar panels. Catamarans have lots of space for solar power. And look in the background to the right and you'll see a wind generator on a neighbor's boat. Almost all cruising/ liveaboard boats have either solar or wind or both.)

- LIGHTS (check again. Nearly all of our lights are LED or fairly low draw boat lights. Now if I can just get my husband to turn them off when he walks out of the room... :)

- WATER - (another big check. We only have 100 gallons of fresh water in our tanks. Outside of the murky waters of the marina, we use salt water (we have a tap for that) to wash and fresh to rinse. Salt water is also used in flushing our heads (toilets, not our brains!)  We are SOsoSO careful about fresh water use. Especially in the winter when the marina turns off our access to water and refilling the tanks becomes an arctic adventure. We literally don't waste a drop. If a glass of water isn't finished, it's given to the guinea pig, or set aside for tea or cooking or dishes. Even pasta water gets re-used. There is a constant shuffle of unused bits of fresh water from container to container until every drop is used. Never, EVER poured down the drain. Even the frost that collects in the back of the fridge, I melt down for the guinea pig.)

- STUFF (check. When you live ina few hundred square feet, every inch counts. That means we choose what shares our precious space very carefully. We feel like we have a lot, but our worldly goods could probably fit in a typical suburban home's dining room.)
(this is the cubby below our dining table and pretty much the sum total of Zach's toys except for a few items we keep out and in reach.Kids just DON'T need a lot of stuff.)

- SELF SUFFICIENCY (could do better with food stuffs... would love to grow some food, but our attempts at dockside gardening have failed miserably. I need to learn to sew, which means we could make a handful of the things we now buy.)

- TRANSPORT (check mostly. My husband drives a VW Jetta TDI diesel with insanely fabulous mileage. I have a little Honda Civic. Then the house runs on wind power - gotta love the breeze it's free!)

 So it looks like my biggie is cleaning products. And learning to sew so we can be a little more self sufficient. If anyone else is doing this challenge, chime in with your goals and blog links so I can browse around and get some inspiration. And thanks again to Hip Mountain Mama for lighting everyone's fire!


Tan Family said...

Hooray to all of your excellent efforts to be energy efficient and eco-friendly while living on board. You are a wonderful model for us all!

Tan Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellenjohnrubicon said...

I love how boating makes you greener, just by its intrinsic challenges. And yay TDI! We just got one and love it to death. Do you guys use Alpenglow lights? Our very favorites- such a low draw, great light.

Wendy said...

When you get to the point where you can sew a straight line, head over to my blog and look for the pattern for fabric grocery and produce bags. It's a great beginner project and is double green because it makes use of reused sheets (and also has the side-benefit of making a pretty little matching set of bags).

And I've been meaning to do a post on green cleaning products.

As for my goals, the biggest focus this year is going to be on building raised beds for the vege garden, since the last two years have been failures in that regard.

Lisa said...

I love your blog ~ it really puts our small house in perspective, and I feel blessed for our 900 sqf house (certainly small by "normal" standards!) :)
I joined the Small Change challenge as well ;)

Joy said...

I loved reading about all your "greenie" ways on the boat. We've made many changes over the last several years so I'm trying to figure out what I can do to join this challenge too. ;)

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Hey Cindy - the changes we've been workin on are cutting down plastic use (more and more stuff seems to be packaged in plastic and Trader Joes is the worst for it sadly. But simply sailing down the coast and seeing how much crap is floating in the water this time vs last time has been a huge shock.), decreasing food waste, increasing the amount of food that comes from local sources (really hard while traveling!) and volunteering in a hands-on way whenever we can.
Maia also carries a resusable garbage bag with her and we do beach clean-ups quite often.

nicola@which name? said...

i am so impressed with all you do (and that you live in 100 ft sq). cleaning product change is a great one to make. i put in a good word for vinegar and baking soda!
ps. here is my link

boatbaby said...

TanFam - thank you!

Rubicon - so true about boating. And congrats on the TDI - it's amazing how far you go between fill ups!

Wendy - awesome! Thanks for the link!

Lisa - it's all how you use it. This space only seems small in the dead of winter :)

Joy - water us a good one. It's something I notice land lubbers don't think about much. How you do the dishes, brush teeth, wash up, etc.

Diane - yay Maia, she rocks!

Nicola - Oh my! No, not 100 sqft. Sorry if I gave the wrong impression. I don't know the exact #, but maybe more like 350-400? Thank you for your link!

healing hillary said...

boating is green. lovely. i learned lots reading your blog. things i had not really thought of.

we are working on hanging out laundry.

we use vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and essential oils for all of our cleaners. some combo of these does the trick...every single time. it's easy (and cheap!). i'll look forward to hearing how it works out for you.

one idea i had about gardening...have you tried sprouting? that might provide some fresh food, for not a lot of money. and the rinse water could be used for something else too. although you are so crafty with water that i am certain you'd find a use.


Cat said...

I love your checklist style post! It made me think of my own changes in an organized way...

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