Green provisioning for cruising

by Janet Gannon, Sailors for the Sea Sep 18 15:41 UTC

We find locally sourced food, often in minimalist plastic packaging, at farmers markets © Sailors for the Sea


One of the things that my husband, Sailors for the Sea Skipper Damon Gannon, and I love about living aboard Fulmar, our Pacific Seacraft 37, is how aware we are of the resources we use.

Whatever we need, we have to make an effort to get. Our awareness of waste is greater when we have limited space and resources, so we strive to be greener in our sourcing. Here are some things we are doing to be more environmentally friendly when bringing supplies on board:


Visit our local farmer’s market. On a typical trip to our grocery store, it’s nearly impossible for us to buy anything that isn’t wrapped in plastic. Fortunately, we can get on our bikes and visit our farmer’s market every Saturday. We come home having used a lot less plastic. Plus, we meet our neighbors, support small businesses, and eat more locally produced food when we shop at the Farmer’s Market. There are downsides to our tours in that there is less variety and less flexibility in terms of when to shop, but we think the benefits are worth it.


Buy in bulk. While shopping at the local farmer’s market is great for produce, we’ve also started our warehouse club. Having huge quantities isn’t always suitable for boats, but buying in bulk can reduce single-use packaging and trips to the store. This is especially true for paper products (yes, we can fit 36 ​​rolls of TP in the nooks and crannies of the boat), produce, and anything that comes in aluminum cans (which are highly recyclable).


Reduce food waste. Sometimes the lofty goals we have while shopping fall apart as the week progresses. We buy asparagus, eggplant or cucumbers with the best of intentions, but overlook these mediocre products and end up throwing them away when we find their withered carcass at the bottom of our cavernous fridge. To reduce waste, we keep a small whiteboard in the kitchen with a list of perishables that should be used. It helps us cook healthier meals using what we have on hand.


Pack food with foresight. In addition to our reusable grocery bags, we have mesh bags to reduce the use of plastic when buying tomatoes, onions or lettuce. We only have one type of food storage container, so all tops fit all bottoms. And we use silicone bowl lids and beeswax sheets to preserve food without using plastic or foil. These steps help us reduce waste and make our food last longer.


Eat more plants. There are many reasons to reduce meat consumption, including the negative effects of animal husbandry on the environment. We try to enjoy plant-based meals several times a week. These can be simple, like swapping veggie burgers for meat, enjoying bean and sweet potato burritos (add pickled red onions for a kick), or making a “tu-no” salad with Chick pea paste. Even having a “Meatless Monday” can make a difference. In addition to reducing our environmental impact, using less meat on the boat means fewer perishable items that need to stay in the fridge.


Use intent when shopping online. If you had told me 20 years ago that I could press a button and everything I wanted would magically happen days later, I would have been amazed. Shopping online has changed the way we live and as a small town sourcing person it has eased the burden of searching for everything we need. But buying online has its drawbacks. It can generate a huge amount of single-use packaging and requires more fossil fuel to deliver goods to consumers. So using it to buy everyday items you might get at a local store might not be the most eco-friendly choice. And free returns are great, but ordering something and then returning it wastes a lot of resources.


Avoid bottled water and seltzer water. We installed an inexpensive water filter on our pressurized water system to make the water in our tank more palatable. We’ve also been known to add a drop of bottled lemon juice or artificial flavorings to water. It helps us resist the urge to bring bottled water on board. If we had space, we would also bring our SodaStream on the boat. Another way to avoid bottled water is to have insulated water bottles to fill and refrigerate.

Decisions about what to include in your provisioning involve trade-offs and compromises. You may not always be able to opt for the “greenest” choices. But be aware of your consumption decisions and their consequences. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.