Yesterday, I interviewed an activist who promotes shifting our spending to truly green companies. Today, I’m going to tell you about one such company. There’s boat stuff coming too. Green boat stuff. But first, a little story…
Remember last year when I blogged about my difficulties filling up my Klean Kanteen at San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music Festival? If you haven’t read the post, be sure and check it out. It’s pretty outrageous.
Well, this year, Outside Lands is supposedly making a big change. They’ve announced they will provide water refill stations and encourage festival participants to bring their own bottles. I’ll let you know how this works out because I’m going to the festival this Saturday. By myself. Why? Because no one else I know is up for spending 100 frickin’ dollars to join me for Jason Mraz, Black Eyed Peas, TV on the Radio, and a whole host of other bands plus food and art and wine. I know it’s not Radiohead this year, but still fun, right? (Oh, and some guy named Dave Matthews who is the headliner. Meh. [Although I could be convinced otherwise.])
Anyway, the water situation seems to be covered, but last year, as I mentioned in my post, I also had problems finding a plastic-free way to taste wine. At the Winehaven tent, each attendee was handed a “recyclable” plastic wine “glass.” Now, I understand the reason an outdoor festival hosting thousands of guests would be averse to using actual glass. Dangerous! But I thought, there has to be another alternative.
So a few weeks ago, I Googled “Stainless steel wine glass” just on the off-chance that such a thing existed. I mean, after all, many wines are aged in stainless steel tanks. In fact, Klean Kanteen advertises its 27-oz bottle with flat cap as a wine “karafe”. (Go marketers!) But I need my Klean Kanteen for water. And it’s not really useful for tasting small amounts of wine. Hence, my Google search. And that is how I stumbled upon GreenBoatStuff.com.
(Please see disclosure at the bottom of this post.)
Of course, as we all know, metals such as stainless steel are not without their environmental impact. But as GreenBoatStuff.com explains on their site:
People sometimes ask how our metal galley gear can be classified as truly “green”? After all, there is no such thing as organic steel or aluminum.
Like most things at greenboatstuff, we try to envision the impact our gear has on the world around us as it is made, used, and ultimately lost or discarded.
In addition, we believe a product you only have to buy once in your lifetime is much greener than a cheaper version you will replace countless times.
With this in mind we offer an assortment of high quality products that are designed for you to pass on to the next generation.
You won’t find cheap plastic covered junk here, just the best boat gear we can find that makes a minimal impact on the environment.
(A Facebook friend of mine suggested I find bottles and containers made from gourds for the least impact of all. Great idea! Anyone want to design a practical gourd bottle for me? I will totally invest in your company.)
So, I ordered the glasses. And here is how they came shipped:
No plastic on the outside and…
no plastic on the inside. Just some re-used paper and a handy Guide to Ocean Friendly Sea Food. And here are the “glasses” themselves. I ordered a set of four because I just know some of you guys are going to want to come with me next year!
I was so intrigued by this little company I had never heard of with its funny name and its products I’d also never heard of that I contacted the owner, Eric Allen, for a little interview. And here it is. Be sure and read to the bottom, where GreenBoatStuff.com has provided a coupon code.
Beth: When did you start sailing? What attracted you to the marine environment in the first place?
Eric: I started sailing about 10 years ago. I was drawn to the simplicity of sailing along with the desire to get out on the water with my family without having to make a bunch of noise or burn a bunch of fuel like my jet skiing and power boating friends and neighbors. I also had visions of becoming competent enough to cross an ocean one day, a plan I still have in mind all the time.
Beth: As a sailor, when did you first become concerned about protecting the environment? Was there a particular moment when you made the connection between your love for sailing and the impact you had on the planet?
Eric: My sailing career coincided with my environmental awareness. As a self taught sailor, I devoured every book I could find on boats, the Ocean, and sailing techniques. A book by Carl Safina, Song For The Blue Ocean, really opened my eyes to what was happening to our aquatic treasures. I became committed to pursuing an environmentally aware life after reading Carl’s book and started Greenboatstuff shortly thereafter.
Beth: What do you think are the main environmental concerns people should consider when boating? What steps can boaters take to protect the ecosystem they are enjoying?
Eric: Several things. First, fuel and all hydrocarbons used on boats have a nasty way of finding their way into the water. Stop any and all leaks you can before they reach your bilge, and then use absorbents or bioremediation products to keep the oil from going over the side.
Second, watch your cleaning products and any other compounds you use that end up going over the side.
Third, if a viable alternative to plastic or other non-biodegradable products exist, use them. Everything on a boat has a way of finding its way over the side so be aware of what you might leave behind. Above all, use common sense and treat the waterways as the closed system that they are.
Beth: Do you think that the boating community in general is aware of the issues of marine pollution and recognizing their part in it? Or is there still a lot of education work to do?
Eric: There is plenty left to do, just walk the docks at any marina or stroll the beach and you’ll see for yourself.
Beth: As a sailor, what plastic pollution problems have you seen personally? And in what areas have you seen the most plastic debris?
Eric: Too much. The beaches on the Hana coast of Maui are several feet thick in places with plastic bottles, Styrofoam, nylon lines and everything else that doesn’t belong.
Beth: How did you come up with the idea to sell eco-friendly boating supplies? And how long ago was that?
Eric: Two specific events helped convinced me to start our company. The first came on a summer day when I was washing my boat using a plastic bucket tied to a short line so I could drop the bucket over the side and retrieve it to rinse my deck. In an instant the line slipped and I watched a piece of plastic head to the depths to become a permanent part of the ecosystem. Shortly thereafter we launched greenboatstuff and one of our first and currently best selling items was a canvas bucket that won’t spend 1,000 years on the bottom.
Several years ago we made some major lifestyle changes as a family to healthier foods, natural cleaning products, less plastic, etc… When we tried to make the same transition on our sailboat we ran into frustrating greenwashing everywhere we went.
Most marine supply stores carry cleaners and other boat stuff with “Earth Friendly,” “Natural,” “Biodegradable,” etc… all over the label, but no disclosure as to ingredients or other facts to back their claims. Like so many “green” products it is up to boaters to do their own homework to determine whether a product really is green. We figured that if we were frustrated in our quest for green boating supplies, others would be too. Our objective as a company is to be a reliable source of products that really are green for boaters and anyone else looking for earth friendly items.
Beth: What is your process for determining what products are truly green and which are simply greenwashed?
Eric: First and foremost we focus on items from companies that practice full disclosure. In our opinion, almost all the cleaning products that hide behind claims of “trade secrets” instead of telling you what is in their stuff have something to hide.
[Amen! Amen! Amen!]
We thoroughly review all ingredient lists, Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS), OSHA-disclosure forms and everything else publicly available before we carry a product. We routinely come across products making green claims, but that are full of “poly” everything and numerous other products that don’t belong anywhere near the water or in our bodies. We employ a rigorous screening and testing process before we stock an item in our store.
What we try to boil things down to is, what does the production, distribution, use, and ultimate disposal of this item do to the planet? If the answers to these questions are satisfactory, we look at our suppliers business practices, commitment to the environment, and other factors to determine how green they are. When the stars align and everything looks good we will usually carry an item and see where things go from there.
From now until September 15, anyone who enters the code – freeship50 – will receive free ground shipping on any order of $50 or more.
I’ll let you know all about this year’s Outside Lands’ water, wine, food, music, and fun next week, as well as a few more surprises. Guess what famous blogger with his own documentary and book coming out I get to interview live and in person on Tuesday. Just guess!
Full disclosure about this post: I have not received any compensation or free stuff from GreenBoatStuff.com. I paid for those wine goblets myself, thank you! And I interviewed Eric and chose to write about the company without any thought to remuneration. However, just now as I was browsing the site to write this post, I discovered that the company has an affiliate program for bloggers. So I signed up and will receive some commission for any sales generated through Fake Plastic Fish.