Episode 30: How to Cut Back on Food Waste and Trash with Sailing Totem’s Behan Gifford

When we’re out on our sailboat in Mexico I am often thinking about trash. We have to rinse out, crush,  compress and store our trash,…

sailing totem

When we’re out on our sailboat in Mexico I am often thinking about trash. We have to rinse out, crush,  compress and store our trash, sometimes for over a week – and then carry it to shore in a dinghy or on a paddleboard. 

It’s an annoying process which makes me seriously want to reduce the amount of trash I create both on the boat and in the van. And not only just GARBAGE, but food waste as well.

In fact, I recently read a startling article in the New York Times about food waste where I read these crazy statistics:

  • The average U.S. household wastes nearly a third of the food it buys. 
  • Households account for 39 percent of food waste in the United States, more than restaurants, grocery stores or farms.
  • In the United States, food waste is responsible for twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as commercial aviation.

Let’s think about that again. Our rotting food waste in landfills creates MORE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS than commercial aviation. Incredible, right?

Behan Gifford of Sailing Totem is an expert in reducing both garbage and food waste on her sailboat. She has wonderful tips and advice and what WE can do RIGHT NOW to make a difference. Here is her blog post about garbage on a sailboat: https://www.sailingtotem.com/blog/2020/10/how-do-you-deal-with-garbage.html

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What We Cover in Episode 30 of The Wayward Home Podcast

  • How long Behan and her family have been living on their sailboat and cruising the world
  • Why Behan starting canning and pickling food for her family’s voyages
  • How Americans can get over their obsession with food looking so perfect in the supermarket
  • The benefits of not creating so much garbage when visiting remote islands
  • How to use a pressure cooker for canning rather than an actual canner
  • Why pickling gives you good crunchy veggies while at sea
  • The benefits of “slow food” and how that connects us to what we eat
  • How we are so lucky because we don’t have food scarcity, but this also increases the amount of food we throw away as wealthy Americans
  • Tips for sourcing fresh and local ingredients while cruising and making the most of seasonal produce.
  • The joy of sharing homemade canned goods with fellow sailors and fostering a sense of community on the open sea.
  • Behan’s top advice for aspiring sailors who want to embrace sustainable living and reduce their environmental footprint.

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About Behan Gifford and Sailing Totem

sailing totem
The Gifford family on their sailboat

When Behan and Jamie Gifford sailed south from the Salish Sea in 2008 they anticipated cruising for a two- to five-year sabbatical. Life had other plans! Nearly a decade later they closed the loop on a circumnavigation aboard their Stevens 47, Totem.

While their three children grew up afloat, the Totem family has sailed around 65,000 miles while visiting 48 countries/territories, from Madagascar to Martinique. Together, they offer coach/mentor services to help people realize their cruising dreams.

Before life afloat, Behan built a career in management consulting, software marketing, and digital advertising. She holds master’s degrees in international studies and business administration. Happily no longer required to wear a suit, as an adventurer she co-authored of Voyaging with Kids, the de facto guide to cruising with children.

Behan maintains a blog for Cruising World magazine and chronicles her family’s adventures at sailingtotem.com.

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