How do you dump trash on a sailboat? Sailing Q&A 18

December 7, 2019

Hello and welcome to your questions, in
which we take one of your questions and we answer it for about five minutes or so.
And I think this one is going to divide the audience. And I think having had a
quick discussion with Liz about this it’s going to divide us as well! So
the question is, and we get asked this quite a lot, is what do we do with our
rubbish whilst we live on our boat? It’s a big question because of course it does
open up lots of discussions about the environment and rubbish disposal and so
on. I guess we should start with just describing what we do. Basically
anything that you can eat, and anything that’s organic goes over, and it goes over whether we’re at anchor or in the middle of the
ocean. So if it’s completely biodegradable basically if it’s biological, it goes over
the side. A couple of months ago we did a video which we entitled “Living
like Robinson Crusoe” and in that video we went on to show how we picked up rubbish.
And it opened up a huge debate about what we should be doing with this
rubbish. A lot of people suggested that we can burn the rubbish. I think the
the point to make is that the rubbish we picked up was all
plastic. It was plastic specifically that we picked up. Having said that, people
are suggesting that you can burn plastic. Now when we came to Tioman, which is
where we are now, we came via a little island called Tinggi and we had four or
five bags of rubbish, and it wouldn’t have been fair to have taken
that rubbish ashore there, because it has a population of about 1,500 people… so
what would they do with it? They’d probably burn it. In Tioman we were happy to see
that they have recycle bins with little signs that say “recycle your rubbish”, and
you can divide up your tin cans and your plastic bottles. The only thing is
that every night as we sit here in anchor we can smell burning plastic. It’s all
burning ashore. And, of course, probably most of you know that burning plastic
releases dioxins into the atmosphere. Carcinogens, toxins… yeah they can be
extremely harmful to ourselves and to the environment and
to the atmosphere. And I mean even the the professionals out there are divided
about whether it is actually effective to incinerate. so the argument is that if
you incinerate at high enough temperatures, and you filter the smoke
that comes out of the incinerator, then you control those dioxins. But some
people aren’t necessarily in agreement with that either. So you know, should we
be burning plastic when we go ashore to help the Islanders not have to do it for
us? Because that essentially seems to be what happens. We carefully package
it all up give, it to them to be recycled and it gets burnt anyway! And that’s
actually getting us nowhere at all. We know of a lot of yachties, and we’ll
admit that we did it ourselves, a lot of yachties will throw tin cans over the
side. Now aluminium beer cans, there’s a
special way that if you rip it and you throw it in the water in such a way, it’s
guaranteed to sink. So a lot of yachties do this. And I know we used to do it as
well… then we got told off didn’t we? We got told off! There’s a couple of
reasons for that. The first thing is that aluminium cans are actually lined with a
plastic, to not only hold in the ink on the outside and the labeling, but also
inside it actually acts as a kind of preservative. That obviously takes a
while to break down. Do you know how long it takes it an aluminium can to break down? I
don’t know, tell me Jamie! 200 years. For a… an aluminium can. A
tin can is 50 years. Okay, so when we’re talking tin can we mean a tin can that
you keep your peas and your baked beans in. Yes. All right, but the drinking
cans for Coca Cola, Fanta and all that crap, they’ve got plastic in them?
So what we were arguing about just now was… While I agree with you on the plastic
coated soda cans: Yeah they should go. But the tin cans that we
keep our vegetables in, I don’t have a problem with throwing those over when
we’re quite a way out, when you’ve got a mile of sea beneath you. Hey, isn’t that
just kind of again the whole out-of-sight out-of-mind thing? You know,
it’s not my problem if I dump it over the side and it sinks to the bottom a
mile in the ocean. If it was carcinogenic, if it had toxins, if someone would
tell me that by doing that I’m actually releasing toxins into the water which
are gonna hurt the animals, then I would rethink it. I haven’t found that
information anywhere, but as far as I understand you’re just putting tin back
into the earth. And my biggest, the BIGGEST thing that pisses me off
generally about recycling and generally getting rid of rubbish, is that this
earth is 7/10 ocean. Only 30% of the earth is covered in land, so why do we
think that it’s OK to shove everything on the land in landfills, or
whatever it is we do with it, and the other 70% is is so pristine we mustn’t
put even one tin can in it. For me, a tin can in the middle of a very deep ocean
if it’s not causing any harm is no worse than putting it in a landfill. OK, yeah I
get your argument. I I think at this point I’m just going to put a little
overlay over this discussion now, and show you some photographs of aluminium
beer cans that have collected. Now I assume this is in shallow water, so these
are in anchorages. So you can imagine an anchorage with a whole load of boats , they
were all having a party and they chucked their tin cans over the side. And you
shouldn’t do that. Definitely you shouldn’t put anything in the harbour or
where you’re anchored, nothing except for foodstuffs. Nothing else goes in there
because it will just rest there. When you’ve got a mile of ocean beneath you,
okay well it will rest at the bottom but it will gradually disintegrate and it
will eventually go to back to tin into its elements. As long as it
doesn’t cause harm to the animals… and I do know that some environmentalists say
that some things, for instance glass or things that are not not harmful, will act
as little homes for some great sea creatures. So you know I think we’ve got
to be very careful about what we do and we don’t throw over the side, and what we
do and don’t put in the earth, it’s the same thing. Glass is an interesting one, because we attempted to smash the glass on the bow of the boat to break it up. It’s a
bit dangerous though because you get glass splinters all over the deck. So do
you then just fill up the glass from the tap, fill it up and throw it over the
side for it to sink to the bottom? I haven’t got a problem with glass going into the ocean,
again it needs to be a way out, because when I was little I used to collect the
glass, the bits of glass that used to end up on the beach and have been rolled
in the surf. They’ve got that gorgeous lovely texture, all rounded and pretty, and lots
of different colors. We used to get them all over the beaches in the UK, you just
don’t see little bits of glass anymore. And that’s because we’re all using…
PLASTIC! Did you know, glass though, they can’t actually even decide how long
it takes to break down when it’s smashed up. Of course it gets ground down, but a
whole glass bottle if it were to sink to the bottom of the ocean takes so long
to decompose they actually don’t know how long it takes. Some people reckon it
takes a million years. But why is that a problem though?
Look at a glass bottle that’s not producing any kind of dioxins, it’s
perhaps giving a few sea creatures a home, perhaps it’s going in a little bit
shallower and helping to form part of the coral…
Isn’t glass made from sand in the first place? Here’s some other interesting
facts, just on decomposition: so cigarette butts between one to five
years; tin cans 50 years; aluminum cans 200 years; plastic beverage holders, now
these things are evil, these things, you know they’re when you get a six-pack
of beer, they take 400 years. 400 years to
decompose! Now plastic does decompose in the water, let’s get
our facts right, it will decompose, but if it takes 400 years to decompose that
thing’s floating around in the ocean and we’ve all seen photographs of turtles
and dolphins and marine animals that either swallow these things or they
get caught up in them. It’s all coming back to plastic. Yeah, it all comes back
to plastic. And the problem with this bloody planet, and the human beings on it,
is that we seem to love plastic. And the manufacturers can’t stop making
plastic CRAP. There’s too much plastic on it. Just stop making plastic now, just
stop it. When I grew up, your milk came in a milk bottle, and it was delivered and
then the next day the bloke would come back (the milkman), he’d take the bottle
away, wash it out, and then bring it back again. Actually we do see that, we have
seen that. In places like Turkey you could recycle your beer bottles, and in
here they do a lot of that kind of recycling as well. You used to get a penny
back didn’t you, when you took your bottles back to the shop. This
is all very well, but this doesn’t help us. As yachties, what do we do? I
think the only thing that we can do as yachties is to try and minimize the
amount of plastic that we buy in the first place. Absolutely. And that’s
from going to the supermarket and taking your hessian, recycled shopping bags – trying to avoid… and of course the other thing when you go
into shop, and they immediately put all your gear in plastic bags. In the UK now
I think they’re obliged to ask whether you want plastic bags, and they charge
you for bags. They don’t do that in some of these countries, so it’s up to you as
the person buying this gear to take… yeah, take your shopping
bag with you. That is all we can do… We can do better, I mean only today I was
desperately thirsty and I bought a plastic bottle full of water, so that
will go into the rubbish, and it’ll go onto the island to possibly get burnt tonight.
So really places like Lipe in Thailand, they provide you with a
stainless steel container and they have little spots all around the island where
you can just fill up with water. They’re trying to stop plastic bottles
and it’s great. There are lots of initiatives around the world, there’s no
point in getting too upset because there are loads of initiatives. We should just
mention that Liz is talking about TRASH HEROES, and this is a nonprofit
organization set up by both tourists and the local people on Koh Lipe. And they
now have lots and lots of different factions around, not just Thailand, but in
Malaysia and Indonesia as well, and these guys are doing a great job. The sad thing
is is that it’s from the bottom, it’s done from the bottom up, you know. There’s
no government incentive. It seems as if there is no government incentive from
the top down to incentivize people to not buy plastic. So there we go.
Interesting discussion. Let us know what you think in the comments below. Don’t
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there. Let’s see what people have to say. In the meantime… Peace, and fair winds.

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