Sustainable Swaps to Save Money & Storage in the Galley


Storage on a boat is always a challenge. Especially when precious space is consumed by sandwich bags, paper towels, and other single-use products.

Those same items have a recurring cost, create waste, and are not good for the environment or our oceans.

I'll admit, this didn’t phase me in my busy land life. But once faced with limited resources, space, and dealing with trash on a boat - well, priorities change.

We had to make an effort to find solutions.

Here are our sustainable swaps since moving on the boat.

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Beeswax Wraps

A big storage issue living in the RV and on the boat was how to reduce plastic sandwich bags and plastic wrap. With a small fridge, it’s easy to stuff a plastic bag into a small space versus a plastic container.

I tried the silicone reusable bags, which some folks love, but they can be bulky in a tiny fridge.

How Beeswax Wraps Work

Wrap your food, or cover your bowl, then mold the wrap to your liking. The wrap uses the heat from your hands to create a seal.

How I Use Them

You can put most veggies, greens, fruits, and cheeses in these wraps with minimal cleanup. If it looks like too big of a mess I’ll use a container.

How to Care for Them

These clean up with mild soap and water. Keep away from heat as it will breakdown the wax.

After three months they are holding up well. I just bought another pack so we have more to use!

THE REALITY OF THE SWAP: we still have plastic bags for messier foods if a container won't work. Otherwise, we've reduced our plastic bag/wrap waste drastically.

Sustainable Bonus

When you buy the ocean pattern, a donation is made to support ocean conservancy.

Folding Reusable Bags

These lightweight bags from Baggu are fantastic. They don’t save money but they save twice over in storage.

They allowed us say goodbye to the pile of plastic bags under the sink. That space is now usable again. They take up almost no room but still mange to hold 50 pounds.

The best part - they fold into a 5 x 5 inch square pouch. You don’t even need to remember them when you leave the boat. Just keep them stashed in your purse or backpack.

They are great for shopping and groceries, stashing stuff for a potluck, or the beach.

Favorite Features

• Easy to clean fabric

• Holds up to 50 pounds

• Water resistant

• Works as a shoulder bag

• Comes in a ton of great prints!

THE REALITY OF THE SWAP: when used as a plastic bag replacement we do great since I keep these in my purse. I'm working on remembering to give these to Ross when he's out on his own.

Sustainable Bonus

These are made from 100% ripstop nylon, 40% recycled and sourced from pre-consumer waste.

The E-Cloth

Living on the boat, the inefficiencies of buying paper towels became very clear.

Aside from the cost and environmental impact, have fun transporting paper towels in an Uber. Storaging to protect from moisture is also difficult.

The e-cloth helped us cut down on paper towels in a major way.

Using just water, these microfiber towels remove all kinds of icky dirt and 99% of bacteria. I feel like Mary Poppins when I clean with these.

How I Use Them

I usually keep two out at a time, one for the kitchen counter and one for anything else. I use a spray bottle of water as to not waste any running it from the facet. I use a command hook to hang to dry.

When you use the towels dry they have a positive charge great for picking up dirt and pet hair.

How to Care for Them

There is growing concern about microfibers and other synthetics impact on the environment. They can release tiny plastic fibers when washed that end up in our oceans and drinking water.

To minimize the release of microfibers I rinse with water to clean and hand wash only when needed.

THE REALITY OF THE SWAP: what I love about the e-cloth is they are very well made and highly absorbent. They remove almost all counter stains, absorb cups of water at a time, and make cleaning easier. The quality suggests we will have this set for a long time.

Sustainable Bonus

By cleaning with only water, these towels helped us cut down on cleaning products. No more chemicals, and money and storage saves for the win!

Unpaper Towels

The journey to discard paper towels continues.

We found this product in Brunswick, Georgia. There is a fantastic sustainable focused shop downtown called Dot and Army.

Jennifer, who’s family runs the shop, is super friendly and passionate about her products.

The Unpaper Towels are 100% cotton with a waffle texture. Handmade in the store, they come edged in a ton of beautiful colors. The perfect sustainable accent to brighten up a boat galley.

How I Use Them

I store them rolled in a jar by the window so we can grab one when needed. I have a couple in use at a time. Usually flung over the sink facet to dry or folded on the countertop to clean something.

How to Care for Them

Launder as needed. Jennifer explained they usually last about a year before the fibers start to break down. Then they can be easily re-purposed as rags.

THE REALITY OF THE SWAP: when compared to our annual paper towel usage these are a lifesaver. So far they are holding up to everyday use. We still buy the blue shop paper towels for dirty jobs around the boat but no more Bounty! If you're worried about stains, they sell a dark gray Unpaper Towel made from a linen cotton blend.

You can visit Dot and Army online to check out the Unpaper Towel and their gorgeous cotton napkins.

Glass Straw

I had a hard time with the movement against plastic straws. I love the feel of a plastic straw and the metal and silicone versions didn’t cut it for me.

When Ross bought me this glass straw from the St. Augustine Maker’s Fest, I was in love.

How to Care for It

Glass is a breeze to clean. The straw is dishwasher safe, but on a boat we use a drinking straw cleaning brush. A drop of dish soap on the brush and It cleans up in no time. Even iced tea stains are no problem.

Favorite Features

• It feels great and looks fancy too.

• Handmade in Florida. Each straw is hand-cut and polished.

• The toughest glass on the market. The cat has knocked over my cup multiple times and the straw is still intact! (Knock on wood.)

THE REALITY OF THE SWAP: from smoothies to cocktails to my daily iced tea, I thoroughly enjoy this galley staple. If you can’t ditch the plastic straw I hope you’ll give glass a try.

Lessons Learned

Learning to live sustainably has been a welcome challenge of boat life. It's rewarding to reduce our carbon footprint while maximizing storage and saving money.

Of course, these changes don’t come without effort. We make conscious decisions every day to work toward forming better habits.

Almost always the effort is worth it. Remember to let go of perfection. If the job is better suited for a plastic bag, we use it. If we really need that disposable paper towel we’ll grab one.

The big take away is we made changes and have seen results.

Share Your Experiences

What are your experiences with choosing a sustainable option? Was it something you could stick with? What were the challenges? We would love to hear your comments below.