I've mentioned before that one of my regular writing gigs is a green living column for a Canadian magazine. The ironic thing about the column is I rarely write about life on the boat. The main reason is it's a hyper-local urban magazine, so I'm sort of pretending to be in Vancouver for most of my columns (my editor knows though;). Another reason is when you live in a city, or anywhere near civilization, you have access to all sorts of fancy products that help you to be a more eco-aware consumer. Just try to find a pen made out of compostable cellulose that writes with soy ink in BLA…
The funny thing, when you don't live in a place that lets you purchase a green-conscious, is you simply have to make due. I don't recall the last time I was able to buy an organic anything, let alone a hand-made, net-zero impact toy… But, despite this, I think we're probably as green as we've ever been.
The reason goes beyond the fact there is nothing to buy (although that does help…) Cruising gives us time to experiment a bit. I'm learning to make things I've never tried before. Some of it is out of simple necessity: We all had stomach aches and were missing our daily yogurt. BLA only has yogurt drinks for sale, which are not only high in sugar, but come in small plastic bottles (something we really try to avoid). So I pulled out a yogurt recipe (got to love my Laurel's Kitchen cookbook-it's our favourite out here) and discovered I could take one bottle of that nasty sugary stuff, mix it with three cups of powdered milk (heated to 110 F), leave it in a glass container kept at about 90 F (really not hard to do in the desert) for about 5 hours and voila: yogurt. (After that initial yogurt I've just saved a ¼ cup from each batch as starter for the next one.) It may not be organic, but it's free of added chemicals and doesn't come in a container we end up tossing away.
We also stumbled across the world's easiest granola bar recipe when I couldn't find anydecent looking ones to buy. Again, not organic, but they are easy to make from the ingredients available here: One can of sweetened condensed milk, 3 cups of oatmeal and 4 cups of assorted trail-mix stuff all mixed together and smooshed into the bottom of a 9x11 pan and baked at 350F for 20 minutes. No wrappers to toss and we get to use up all the bits of stuff hanging out in the cupboard…
I love that I'm part of a community where making due is a skill we all take pride in. When it comes to birthdays we all make each other little gifts from the items we have aboard. When it comes to potlucks, there's no running to Costco for a fancy tray, instead it's perfectly okay to experiment, and even imperfect hors d'oeuvres are always appreciated.
There are moments when I miss being able to visit my favourite organic grocery store and stock up on fair trade chocolate (especially when I'm contemplating the Mexican option) or organic wine (see previous comment) but the satisfaction that comes with doing it ourselves is pretty amazing.
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When we were cruising in Mexico last (2002-3) we met a fellow who had, instead of an engine, large kegs of homemade wine in his engine space I imagine instead of powering along he just kicked back with a nice zinfandel. Very green!
Love that Sara! We knew an engineless boat too. It was called Aimless. I never asked if they were storing kegs in the engine space though...
I don't think I've commented before but we've been really enjoying reading your stories over the past year! Our family is heading down to Mexico next year. Hopefully we'll catch up with you out west!
love your practicality, diane!
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