Since my early boating days, I’ve lamented over the chemicals we put in the ocean. My thoughts would go to a school experience, when a science teacher poured a coloured chemical into a beaker of water, then challenged the class to remove it. That demonstration certainly proved how easy it is to put unwanted additives in water, but how difficult it is to remove them.
The ocean’s a rather large beaker, but a young mind does not dismiss an idea based on scale, nor by comparison with what others do. I took on board the personal responsibility I was being indirectly taught. I like to think everyone on my boat is made to feel the same way and it has proven to be a very easy sell!
Let me introduce some lifestyle enhancing practices that go easy on the environment. They are based on what I know something about, life on a boat and the Alix range of natural personal care products that have been developed by my partner Sharon and adopted by me as the ideal solution while on a sailing holiday.
Chemicals and water don’t always mix
Further to my school-day science lecture, I learned via the Alix chemist the different ways chemicals deal with dirt and how they recycle it back into the natural environment (dirt being my word for all unwanted particles).
The petro-chemical based Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES & SLS) surfactants commonly used in body-care and cleaning products act to ‘dissolve’ dirt, which is what we want, right? Wrong!
When we remove the dirt it remains in the water as smaller particles, each coated with an oily slime that nature cannot deal with. This surfactant de-oxygenates the water, less oxygen resulting in less microbial activity. The matter that would normally be food for flora and fauna at the bottom of the food chain instead builds up, eventually to toxic levels.
Much better for the environment is the use of high-quality plant-based surfactants or Alkyl Polyglycosides (APG’s), made from potato or corn starch. These natural compounds act differently in dealing with dirt, dislodging it and coating it with what is effectively a layer of food for micro-organisms. Plant-based surfactants literally sugar coat the meal that would otherwise be less desirable!
I’ve found that the Alix Hand Cleaner even takes epoxy resin off my skin, and yet it is the most gentle of soaps. That to me, instead of using Acetone - a known carcinogen, proves the point that I must challenge what I have been led to believe.
Primarily formulated to be gentle and act naturally on humans, it's clear to see that the product we use for our skin health is equally kind on the environment. Do the research and it’s quite a revelation: products that look after the environment are also invariably the best solution for you.
As a Kiwi bloke I never used to think much about personal care products. But then the environmental considerations got my attention. Like most people I needed an easy-to-adopt alternative before I could be bothered. Make it hard to change and it won't happen; make it simple and show the benefits, and it will.
Simple, gentle, natural products are best
Alix Body Wash for face, skin and hair is a product I would never be without, even though I have no hair to speak of. This one small bottle of goodness does every cleaning job your body requires and on our boat, so much more.
Its most important place tends to be at the cockpit shower for everyone to enjoy. Soap up in salt water if fresh is scarce and rinse clean with this wash.
When out on the boat, I have even used it to clean my teeth when we ran out of toothpaste. This is not a serious suggestion, I was just curious. It tasted OK and did the job!
Alix Body Wash does a remarkable job on board, reducing the overall cleaning required each day and keeping the boat fresh. Just like it doesn’t leave a bath ring back home, there’s no shower soap scum to contend with, and the sumps, bilge pumps and pipework do not smell.
I use it in the toilet, an extravagance for sure. But holding tank stagnation is another subject, one that nobody really wants to read or talk about. The fact based principle is anaerobic smells are reduced when everything is kept alive, for nature to easily deal with it on release.
Of course for doing the dishes there are much cheaper options: Alix Body Wash is far more expensive than a plant-based dish washing liquid. While the plant surfactants in eco-friendly dish washing liquid are cheap, inferior and mostly made from palm oil (which has its own environmental issues), they are a lot less harmful in the ocean than those surfactants made from petrochemicals.
There’s a lot of marketing noise around the numerous claims of environmental and personal well being, and it’s hard to segregate genuine advice from what commercial interests want you to believe. I have no answer to that, but I do have faith that people do care, and if you’ve read this far you are now more likely to question what is in the products you buy for use at sea, as well as at home. And the fact-based benefits they can actually deliver on.
And so to our Free Offer
At Sail Connections we used to include free charter packs with every charter we brokered. Much of the pack comprised quality Alix products - the Body Wash, the After-Sun Wash that literally washes off sunburn and arrests ongoing radiation in its tracks, a spritz cleaner and a bug spray made of essential oils to keep you safe when you go ashore. All the very best products with ingredients genuinely formulated with a mix of love and intelligence.
The charter pack promotion ceased because of the pitfalls of giving something away: people tend to dismiss it as of low value. It was clear from lack of feedback that recipients equated free with cheap, and didn't use these quality complimentary items, or recognise their benefits. .
If chartering a boat through Sail Connections, I would love to send you a charter pack of these Alix products, plus some other things I consider useful for your sailing holiday. All you have to do is email me and provide your postal address in a timely manner before your charter begins. No matter where you are in the world, I’d be delighted to share the Alix experience with you.
Sharon and I would be pleased to take any questions should you be interested in learning more. You can find Alix online at alix.co.nz