sucba adventures and plastic heartbreak

Scuba Adventures and Plastic Heartbreak

Rain, rain and more rain. That has been the theme of late with even more being predicted. It’s been coming down in buckets and we’ve been using the gloomy weather as motivation to stay inside and get some editing, writing, organizing and general housekeeping done.

We were deep in the creative zone when all the sudden, the clouds parted, and the sun came out in full glory. It was an invitation to get out while the gettin’ was good. And we’re not ones to turn down an invitation.

With the sun high in the sky, slack tide on the way and the seas relatively calm, there was only one thing to do.  Go scuba diving!  It’s time to see what lies below the island of Huahine.  Spoiler alert, it’s not all marine life.

I wanted to title this one “Scuba Adventures and Turtle Killers”, but Jason said it was too dramatic. I get his point, but it is true. Those plastic floating bags kill hungry unsuspecting turtles (and other creatures too).

We see plastic bags, bottles, candy wrappers, shoes and a wide assortment of rubbish both floating on the surface and way down on the sea floor. It honestly makes so many of those post-apocalyptic, Earth takes revenge, movies like “The Uninhabitable Earth” or “Automata” seem eerily plausible.

But, we’re not there yet! I believe most of us care about our planet and want to do the right thing, it’s just not always clear what that is.

We have been eco-minded for as long as we can remember and try to leave as small of a footprint behind as possible. It’s one of the reasons we’re so passionate about Living Off The Grid.

But it’s not easy. Information can be misleading. Education on sustainability and our climate is weak…and politics often get in the way.

Luckily, we’re incredibly curious people who love to learn! So, in the spirit of learning and sharing, here is what I’ve gathered about biodegradable and compostables.

ocean defender scuba jason

Biodegradable Plastics, A False Solution

I hate when I think I am doing something good for the environment…only to find out my seemingly greener alternative is possibly worse. That is exactly what happened with me and biodegradable plastics.

We use certified home compostable bags for our composting toilet. And because I know those degrade along with my other waste, I simply assumed biodegradable was similar. NOT the case.

  • Biodegradable – capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.
  • Compostable – capable of disintegrating into natural elements in a compost environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil.

Sounds pretty darn similar right? The big difference…compostable bags are regulated while biodegradable bags are not. Without regulation standards and labeling requirements, the biodegradable bags could still be made from toxic materials.  We have no way of knowing exactly what they are made of.  Biodegradable and compostable bags are made from a variety of plant-based materials like corn and wheat instead of petroleum (which is what plastic is made of).

Even so, unless specified “certified home compostable” either option still requires very specific conditions to break down.  Biodegradable bags need temps to reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) and must be exposed to UV light. This does not happen in landfills, compost bins and certainly not in the ocean! Plus, they still look like a jellyfish to a turtle, so they are just as harmful as a traditional plastic bag.

If a biodegradable bag is sent to a landfill, it breaks down very slowly and without oxygen. It then produces and emits methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide!?!

Here is a good visual of exactly how some of these biodegradable and compostable options degrade over time.  It’s from the 5Gyres Ban 2.0 Report and the whole report is a real eye opener:

showing how biodegradable and compostable bags break down

I have spent hours pouring over research articles and the evidence is painfully clear that bioplastics do not solve any of our plastic problems and are potentially worse (insert heavy sigh here).


Reusable #PlasticFree Alternatives

#plasticfree choices

Totes are great for toting many things…except our cats.

I still need disposable bags. What’s the best option?

As sailors, we tote our rubbish to shore to dispose of it. Often times there are signs on the bins saying, “please make sure all garbage is contained in a bag”. Then there’s the issue of compost and our composting toilet. When we’re at sea, it’s dandy to toss compost overboard. But, when we’re anchored inside a bay, lagoon or anywhere within 3 miles of shore, that’s unacceptable. So, what is our best options for now?

  • For composting, our “certified home compostable” bags are still a good choice:
  • For trash & recyclables these 80% recycled bags are made from the highest percentage of recycled plastic and they’re still recyclable:

Awesome Resources

5Gyres is a wealth of information and actionable tips.  Which is why we volunteered as #5GyresAmbassadors !  If you’ve never heard of 5Gyres or all this #PlasticFree talk or how our oceans are in peril, I suggest starting with this Better Alternatives Now report.  Some of the findings totally blew my mind: 

For some additional reading, I also dig what these organizations are doing:


Sharing our lives and what we learn along the way is possible because of viewers like you.  If you like what you see, there are lots of FREE ways you can show your support.  Thank you for being a part of the journey.



Scuba Gear

🎶AWESOME tunes:

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (50)

  • Katie

    I’d so love to know the name of those lovely purple fish. Any ideas??
    I don’t think you’ll actually see this question, but if you do I’d love to know.
    And I loved seeing Cleo at the end of this vid.


  • asifio

    I’m so jealous of the diving you guys get to do. I used to be a DM and so I have seen a lot of divers and occasionally seen things go wrong. I have just an observation about your kit setup. As a general rule, you want all your hoses and gauges to be as secured and as streamlined as possible. Entanglement is one of the most common causes of diving accidents. Depending on your BC, there’s lots of different ways to clip it near your left hip, or in a pinch, run it under your left arm and under your bc’s waist buckle so you can just look down and see it without having to find it. That’s a high pressure hose though and so won’t leak that fast if it fails because its such a small bore. The octo is a different story. It is a low pressure hose and has a much larger bore. Catching that hose on sharp coral and rupturing it at depth is not something you want. It’ll drain your tank faster than you can safely ascend. If you are at 20m with 100 bar left, you better hope your buddy is within a couple of meters. An octo clip that allows you to shorten your octo hose by doubling it over will allow you to keep it as close to your body as possible and helps to reduce this risk. Anyway, I love the videos and hope to one day run into you on the boat I have neither bought nor learned how to sail yet! Safe diving and safe travels.

  • Mark Hanlon

    I’m wondering what app you used to find the dive site? I’ve been looking for a good one and haven’t found one yet. Thanks.

  • Michael

    As always, great pictures. I loved the colorful fish. They are awesome.

    And thank you so much for explaining some of the little known details about recyclable products. It turns out that most actually aren’t. No wonder oil is deep underground. It was supposed to stay there. Humans are such idiots.

  • Jb

    The plastic problem is big. It’s even bigger when you consider these countries are your audience when it comes to the worlds biggest polluters:

    The US could reduce pollution to zero and hardly make a difference. But we should do it anyway even if no one else will.

    • Curious Minion

      It is easy to point fingers until you realize that the U.S. has been shipping its plastic “recycling” to China for years, and other countries have been shipping theirs to countries like Malaysia & Indonesia. So it’s still U.S. consumed plastic that’s ending up in the ocean and if we DID manage to reduce our plastic waste to zero it would be a huge improvement.
      Curious Minion

  • Mary

    Perfect topic for Earth Day!

    Just curious, how deep have you dived?

  • Deborah Kerr

    Loved those little purple fish and the night-time sky in the video! Great message and real-life “show & tell”. We always hear how those bags and bottles are in the ocean….. but don’t get to see it first-hand.

  • Kathryn Mathisen

    One other important point to make is that in order to support recycling of plastics, we as consumers need to seek out products made from recycled plastic when purchasing plastic items. If a downstream is not created to support the products of recycling, it is not cost effective for businesses to recycle. That’s the sad truth.

  • Martin

    Hi Guys,

    First off; I love your channel, the effort / enthusiasm you both have and the great videos you post!

    So: why am I commenting? Well, your plastic bag “rant” (does Nikki rant?)

    Single use plastic bags are a blot on the landscape, right? Well….yes, but lets make sure the alternative isn’t worse!

    Did you know….a recent Danish Government investigation (and subsequent report) confirmed that you need to use a cotton bag 7,000 times before its environmental performance is equal to a single use plastic bag. Have you seen a food shopping bag once it’s been used for 7,000 shopping trips?

    By my calculation, a weekly shopper would therefore need to shop for 174 years with the same cotton bag, before its impact was equal to a single use plastic bag. ALSO; if you reuse your plastic bag as a bin bag – and these are banned – you then have to buy bin bags….. typically made from…..plastic !

    So….paper bags, from trees in sustainable and managed forests, both improve the quality of air as they grow, can be used, reused and rot “quickly and easily” in most rubbish disposal facilities. And disintegrate almost immediately in water, good for turtles, dolphins, sharks……and humans!

    • Mary


  • Dave Hansford

    You are amazing people! Thank you for making these excellent videos!
    Congratulations on living your dreams!

  • Roger B

    Thanks for all the valuable information. When we arrive home from Maui I’m ordering the compostable bags from your link on Amazon. The sea life (fish) in your video are the most brilliant colors yet. Amazing.

  • Tracey

    Love the video! You mentioned plastic bags on the video but could you also comment about the non-disposable water bottles you use? I.e. brand and how this also contributes to less waste!

  • Pam McClure

    I haven’t even watched the video yet but already ordered up the recyclable trash bags. Going to watch the video now…

  • Sandra & the 2 Spaniels

    Loved this video! I went to Mrs. Meyer’s for cleaning because I wanted to stop polluting the water that goes down the drain. I love Mrs. Meyer’s-makes me want to clean my house, and it cleans as well as any planet destroying gunk! Dog poop bags are another twister of logic. The manufacturers stopped using a plastic core, and went to a cardboard core; so now they’re “biodegradable! Um…no, plastic is still plastic. I will check out 5Gyres for some advice and recommends. You guys are the bomb!

  • Bob Maltbie

    As usual great stuff, love you guys! Green-washing is big business, but as like you pointed out, more people like yourselves are becoming aware of the significant differences between cradle-to-grave and cradle-to-cradle. (recycle v. bio.) In any case this link looks pretty cool. Cheers!

  • Michael Magill

    Another beautiful and informative video. Ijust love getting my weekly J&N video that just seems to make feel better after viewing it as I have said many times before , nothing seems to change any idea or thought about these two amazing travellers, that have gone from Rv to Wandering our world on a boat. They have no preconceived notions about what will happen or what they will find or for that matter where they are going. They start you on a tour and here we go, where don’t know they have an idea where , but it can be changed quickly, and none the less for where, and every one just loves that they let us come along for the ride and journey each week. Thank you both for allowing us to share what you see and do each week. Safe Passage, and calm winds you two! The cats seem to be enjoying the trip as well!!!

  • Alan Solomon

    Just one Solomon is enough.
    Great to see that every person that commented, shared about our plastic problem. Slowly but, surely we are getting where we need to be.
    Thanks again for this video.

  • Randy Harward

    Great post with truly helpful links for folks to get up on the plastics issue. Working on the ocean biodegradability of plastics in my work. Will let you know of my research and progress as we go.
    Thanks again.

  • Alan Solomon Solomon

    Thank you for your video, especially the important information on plastic recycling, composting and other ways to stop the grip single-use plastic has on humans and our Planet. It is good to hear the problem and solutions over and over from multiple sources to get out of our convenient comfort zones and start new habits. It is long overdue.
    Greenpeace, The Ocean Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund and many others are contacting and communicating with brand manufacturer’s (a big source of single-use plastic) and from that many large companies see the light and are stopping single-use plastic production by 2023 or 2025 or close to that. I wish it could be sooner.
    By the way, during your dive, the coral looked healthy and it had some good color. That was good to see. Thanks. Safe Travels.

  • Robert Rudolph

    Here’s the TRUTH about “RECYCLING”…. it’s a SCAM really! Watch this and share… you’re going to be shocked!

    • Bob S.

      Recycling in Chicago has proved to be just as “scammy.” Most blue recycling bins are contaminated with garbage that is not recyclable so its contents winds up in landfills anyway.

  • Lindsay Wood

    Nikki and Jason you speak our language. We are at Eric and Lindsay Wood and we just started our digital nomad, traveling in a tiny house on wheels adventure this March 1. We also are very eco-groovy and aware of plastic and use totes with insulative liners like you do!

    We do go one step further Which involves collecting 99% of the plastic that we generate And we put them into our plastic paper milk cartons that we buy how are coconut or almond milk in.

    We have been doing this practice for about four years and have a cumulated about 300 of these cartons so that one day we will build an outside kitchen with these curtain bricks filled with our plastic trash.

    I realize not everyone has the storage capacity to store these carton bricks but since we committed to it three years ago we’re sticking to it and soon will be building an outside kitchen either on our land or someone’s land.

    The type of plastic stuff that we throw in these cartons Include dental floss, Plastic wrap beans around jars, any bags that get funky, Bread bags, we used to Get Netflix in the mail and those little plastic covers, energy bar wrappers and so much more.

    We love Sundays because we get another video from you two.

    Your videography, photography and commentary are all very inspiring.

  • Miss Kitty

    I try not to use plastic whenever possible, but unfortunately it’s not always an easy choice. So much comes packaged in plastic these days. I have not used plastic bags from stores for a while, and in fact they are about to be banned here in NZ. But then I came across this article Sometimes it feels a bit like damned if you do, damned if you don’t! I try to use things as much as possible before throwing them out, recycle what I can, and hope that it makes up for any rubbish I do end up needing to throw away.

  • Bob S.

    I’m not sure what you mean by saying that methane is 23 times “more potent” than CO2. Carbon dioxide is necessary for life on earth. No CO2 means no plant life, and therefore, no life on earth.

    • Curious Minion

      As a greenhouse gas it is far worse than/more harmful than CO2 and therefore contributes more to climate change.
      Curious Minion

      • Bob S.

        Yes to preventing pollution by dumping garbage and chemicals into the sea or elsewhere, but…

        It’s debatable how “harmful” CO2 is. It’s not a pollutant and is necessary for life on earth.

        • Curious Minion

          All due respect Bob, CO2 is definitely natural and definitely necessary for life, but science shows it is harmful in the quantities we’re releasing into the atmosphere and it is contributing to climate change.

          • Paul Beauchemin

            all due respect CM – I’m a scientist and science does not say that CO2 being released is harmful- in fact there are many benefits to current or higher levels

  • Webhead USA

    The city 150 yards to the south of my house was about to pass a law that banned plastic bags at all stores within the city limits. Grocery stores, drug stores, clothes stores,… all stores. Well, when the majority party in both houses of the Missouri General Assembly became aware, they barred Missouri’s local governments from banning plastic bags. I’ve been driving a hybrid car for the last ten years. I happen to have unused seats and a trunk for stuff that I buy that I carry out of the stire in my hands. I also use cotton and canvas bags for grocery shopping – have been using for about 15 years. I will not accept plastic bags. It is basic… people must vote for local, state and federal representatives who will implement planet-saving policies. Nikki & Jason, I am hoping you are registered and will vote absentee in 2020!

  • Martine

    Thank you so much for promoting this problem. Not enough people get it. The more we talk about it, hopefully the more they will listen. Yes, I think it it very deceiving to whoever put that on those plastic bags. I sure would of thought that that made them better. Shame on them. I do use reusable bags in the store, but hadn’t thought much about trash bags and poop bags at home. Will definitely look into that now and do what I can. We honestly can’t keep hurting the planet. :(:(:(:(:(

  • Yvan Dion

    Very informative – thanks for sharing. I will be looking for “Home Compostable” bags from now on.

  • Dan Fortin

    Very interesting article. We have saved some of the links for further research. All of these alternatives present their own issues.( Wind, Solar, Hydrogen or batteries) . Clean alternatives MUST be found and all avenues need to be developed to fit different situations. My wife and I have been involved in helping to prove Hydrogen practical for automotive use but we who realize the danger our earth is in need to talk and work towards a clean, practical sustainable future regardless of the venue. We applaud your bringing these things to the fore.

  • Corry

    Along with loving the beautiful places you share you’re helping and encouraging me on my journey to reduce my footprint in the world. Thank you!

  • Louis Miller

    I noticed that when you started to go diving you didn’t have a shirt on and then all of a sudden you had one on , is it that cool there ? Also are there any clean anchorages there that have clean water like the Bahamas where barnecals don’t live ,just wondering . As always it’s a pleasure seeing your videos so keep up the good work and keep on having fun 😂

    • Curious Minion

      I think she probably jumped in to check a site so she put her shirt on then. I know that she also wears them for sun protection so that may have been a factor.

      And fun fact, barnacles (and other filter feeders) are what make the water clear by eating all the tiny plankton.
      Curious Minion

  • Jim

    In my day we had only paper products, but then they “cry” was about cutting down the forests. So… plastic to the rescue!!! NOT so much it turns out.. Hemp was widely used until the forest industry’s intervention… mayhaps the Govt should stop trying to be rulers and allow competition and a free market to return.. great video once again… luv them all

  • Bernard Schaer

    Thank you very much! And thanks for talking about the plastics problem!

  • Richard Fenters

    Thanks for the Earth Day themed message on this Easter Morning, just one day before the actual designated “Earth Day”. In fact, every day should be Earth Day, as Earth is home to us all. Was great seeing you guys make the best of a rainy day as well. Thanks for the super sharing and videos! You guys are awesome!!

  • Tom Fitch

    Good, timely, depressing video. I haven’t taken a plastic bag from a store in over 30 years, but the way many products are over-packaged does bum me out. I wish that companies would wake up when it comes to making wise packaging choices for their products.

  • Jeff Prupus

    Hi N&J, FT RVers here. One of our pet peeves is the lack of recycling bins to dump our collection of recyclable packaging. We may travel for days waiting to find a bin we can use. How do you handle this aboard CURIOSITY?

    • Curious Minion

      I think the first thing is to avoid buying items that come in packaging as much as possible. They do have a certain amount of storage for things like garbage and recycling that accumulate while they’re on passage or at an anchorage that doesn’t have facilities for boaters, so I imagine it gets carried around until they have can either find a facility to recycle or, if they can’t, until they run out of room and have to throw it away with the trash.
      Curious Minion

  • Norman Frenk

    Yea! My favorite Sunday visitors! Wait… or are we the visitors ? Look forward to your video and visiting about the glaring subject of plastics. Plastics are pervasive in our lives and I’m glad you are helping educate folks about this


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