I regard pretty much everything as objects with more than one purpose, and I’m unlikely to buy something that does a particular job. Rather, I opt for things that can fill in for many jobs around house and boat. Here are a few examples of things I’ve been using or re-using that might help reshape the way you think about the stuff you’ve got or about the packaging you choose when you’re provisioning. This isn’t just for boats, by the way. Land folk will like this, too.
Net-like Produce Bags as Beachcombing Treasure Keepers
Onions, potatoes, and citrus from the supermarket come in a variety of bags, and lately I’ve been opting for the plastic netting ones so I can take them to the beach for shelling or reuse them at the farmer’s market for more produce. The bags collapse right down so you can even keep one in your backpack for spontaneous shell collecting, and when you’re done collecting and want to rinse your finds, you can dunk the whole thing in the water to get rid of sand.
Come to think of it, they’d make a good colander for produce, too. I haven’t done this yet, but I’m thinking that next time I process and clean some greens, I might wash them in one of these bags then whip it around up on deck, using the centrifugal force as a salad spinner.
It’s important to make sure you don’t LEAVE these bags on the beach. Ever. Animals can get caught in them. When you do dispose them eventually, consider shredding them up so birds don’t find them at the landfill and have trouble with their beaks.
Parmesan Cheese Containers as Handy Tupperware
I have a slight weakness for salty, dry, shelf-stable cheese of late. I’m also finding that the shape and top of these shaky containers is useful for a slew of things. Here are a couple of examples: Its long shape is perfect for storing wrapped butter as you use it, cutting from one end and leaving the rest wrapped, you just keep it wrapped end side down. Similarly, I eat veggie sausage that comes wrapped like Jimmy Dean Sausage (called Gimme Lean) and store it the same way.
I also keep popcorn toppings in it. We love to use a mix of nutritional yeast flakes, salt, italian herbs, and a dash of garlic powder on popcorn. We premix that flavor combo in a shaky cheese container and voila! Ready to go. If it’s a nice looking container and you want to give an edible birthday present, you could put together an herb blend/popcorn topping for a friend and give it to them in this, with a homemade label.
Shells or Rocks as Soap Savers
No need to go out and buy a one-job dish to take care of your soap. Just use a handful of rocks or pretty shells in a regular little bowl to help circulate air around your bar. Where’d I get that pretty little bar of soap? From this lady here.
Packing Tape as Lint Collectors
I mail a lot of stuff and generally find that clear mailing tape has a lot of uses in general. Great for hair and lint pickup, you just make a mitt around your fingers on one hand, spiraling the tape as a single layer loosely. By making it loose and holding it to your hand with your thumb, you can flip it around to use the other side. We just had a guest over with a very hairy dog and this trick made cleaning up very easy.
Shopping Bags and Packaging as Dog-do Bags
I don’t buy those neatly rolled things anymore. Even though I’m trying to eliminate plastic from my life entirely, stupid shopping bags seem to find their way into my realm. This goes for most packaging too, like packaging and wrapping from paper towels, bread, rice, chips, beans, potatoes, crackers… you name it. Even if it’s not shaped like a traditional bag, odds are it’ll work just fine for this job. Think about it, you just need a mitt big enough for the job and enough wrapping to get it to the nearest trash bag.
On that note, digging a 6″ hole when you are in the wilderness is acceptable, too, and we keep a camping spade in the dinghy for trips like that. Ditch the plastic bags that are just for that job. You’ll save money and plastic.
Paper Towel Rolls as Bag Storage
Now that you’re saving all your packaging to pick up dog waste, you can pack bags into paper towel rolls and put those neatly away somewhere. No massive, crazy stuffing or piles, just columns of bags ready to use.
Got some tips for me? Let me have ’em!