Vacation Waste Diary with Patty Jo

About This Series

Weekly Waste Diaries is a blog series sponsored by Impact Earth that allows readers to follow a week in the life of bloggers as they track the waste that they are generating. Waste Diaries bloggers have a variety of experience with waste diversion and living a zero waste lifestyle. Let’s see how this week’s blogger will do!



Patty Jo is the manager for our Zero Waste Schools program in Hilton, NY. Follow along as she navigates waste tracking during her cruise to the Bahamas!


8:00 am- Today’s the day to fly out of this polar vortex into warmer weather! I start the day by composting the old coffee grounds and making a fresh pot. I pour myself a glass of kombucha. It is a quiet morning since my son Tyler is at his respite home. The only noise I hear is the SCR song that’s stuck in my head. I am very excited to see this band and the many others on the Rock Boat. 

9:00 am- I look at my pile of clothes and think about the task at hand. Packing the suitcase. I have been stepping over this pile of possible outfits since the weekend. 

9:30 am- Hey hey! Look at that. I found the button for my shorts. This is one of those projects you say you are going to do but it winds up sitting in the to do pile for years. This particular pair of buttonless jeans shorts has been in the to do pile for at least two years. I grab my coffee and a needle and thread and start to sew. Thank goodness my work was canceled today due to the extreme cold weather. I have a lot to do. I go through last minute emails, paperwork and bills and recycle the paper.

10:00 am- I make egg and cheese sandwiches for breakfast while Tim goes through some of the stuff in the fridge. We finish the bananas and put the peels in the compost along with the egg shells, old watermelon that I accidentally left in my lunchbox, coffee grounds, chicken, and leftover succotash. Tim braves the cold to take the all the food scraps except the chicken to the compost and closes down the house and garage for the week. The mail arrives and my fishnet stockings for the circus theme night on the boat arrives just in time. Packaging goes in the landfill. 

12:00 pm- We finish packing. The nice thing about bar shampoo and conditioners other than being better for the environment is that they take up way less room in your suitcase!  I pack the reusable coffee cups and make sure my bamboo utensils and stainless steel straws are still in my bag. I pack a small dishtowel in case of a spill or need as a handkerchief.  

12:30 pm- I fold my son’s laundry. I know why am I folding my 26 year old’s laundry? Well the reason today is; it gives me a chance to sit down and think about what am I forgetting for this trip. The only think I could think of is a cross. There is an 80’s theme night and I am dressing like Madonna so I need a big cross for a necklace. I have one packed away with all of our Halloween costumes but I am not going through all those boxes to look for it. 

2:00 pm- We meet my sister at my mom’s house so she can drive us to the airport.

5:30 pm- Once we’re at the airport, I fill my water bottle at the filling station. Then we decide to eat something. We don’t have enough time for a sit down restaurant so we go to a fast food place. I really wanted a salad but they didn’t even have one on the menu so I ordered a fish sandwich and mozzarella sticks. I ate it all and threw the sandwich wrapper away and put the cardboard mozzarella stick container in the paper recycle bin. I filled up my water bottle again.

10:00 pm- We arrive in Tampa! We take a taxi to the hotel, check in, and walk over to Whiskey Joe's. This place is great. It has a fun beach bar type of atmosphere, however we get there right as they were closing since it was 11:10 pm. Bummer. Back to the bar right next to the hotel. I order a $6.00 rum and coke. It came in a plastic cup. We met a Rock Boater, Kelly, who had traveled from Syracuse. Since nobody was serving food this late, I eat the small bag of pretzels and crackers that I got on the plane. 

Thursday Waste

REUSE: water bottle, repaired denim shorts

COMPOST:coffee grounds, egg shells, banana peels, watermelon, succotash

RECYCLE: cardboard food packaging

LANDFILL: chicken, plastic mailer, fast food wrapper, napkin, plastic cup, pretzel & cracker wrapper

Friday (Boarding the Rock Boat)

10:00 am- Tim gets us some coffee in our travel mugs and grabs two biscotti. There is not a good selection of food and no fruit at the hotel for breakfast! Ugh- get me on the boat quickly for some food!  

10:30 am- We get ready and take a taxi to the port. It’s a circus alright. There is a man on stilts to greet us as we go through the check in process.


2:00 pm- We always go right to pool deck when we get on the boat. We stopped at the bar and picked up a beer and a drink called “Clown Shoes” (served in a plastic cup). Plastic straws have been banned within the Norwegian Cruise Line, though! At the pool deck they have circus games, more people on stilts, acrobats, jugglers, and mimes.  I get some Cotton candy then some popcorn. They have tons of sweet treats available. I picked the white chocolate candy apple. Tim wins a stuffed monkey playing a carnival game. We get to our room and I get my soda cup. This is what I will use for the rest of the trip because I paid for a soda package. Tim and I don’t drink enough to purchase a drink package. 

6:00 pm- We eat a couple of times between shows, being careful to take just a little bit in case I didn’t like it. I enjoyed everything except for one dessert. We also didn’t finish one so we brought it back to the room for later. I used a couple of foil wrapped butters for my meal.  

Note- On the boat they have a great waste program where everything is sorted.  I took a behind the scenes tour a couple years back and saw how everything down to the tiniest piece of metal is recycled.

Recycling system on Norwegian Cruise Lines boat.

Recycling system on Norwegian Cruise Lines boat.

Friday Waste

REUSE: Travel mugs

(could have been COMPOSTed): dessert, apple core


LANDFILL: biscotti wrappers, plastic cup, cotton candy cone, butter wrappers

Saturday (Key West)

9:00 am- Key West day! We eat breakfast and then I pack my backpack for a day of walking. They don’t let you take liquids off the boat so I pack the empty water bottle.  

12:00 pm- Tim and I enjoy a day in Key West looking at shops, boats, and fish in the marina… and of course we stop at a rum distillery! I tried a sample in a tiny paper sample cup, but it didn’t wow me. We walked to the southernmost point, took a picture, and walked back.

5:00 pm- We stopped at Willie T’s restaurant mainly because they had live music. I ordered a beer and a salad.  

7:00 pm- We walk around and do some more shopping. I stopped at Earthbound where I bought a hair clip and 2 shirts because it was buy one get one half off.  Before I could say no bag, she asked if I needed one! I said “no thank you” and thanked her for asking. Then she told me that since I refused a bag, they make a donation to the Arbor Foundation. Nice!  

Saturday Waste

REUSE: towel and washcloth

(could have been COMPOSTed): eggs, cantaloupe peel

LANDFILL: paper sample cup, salad dressing container, plastic beer cup, napkin, plastic tags

Sunday (Day at Sea)

9:00 am- I got us coffee this morning. Only when I am on vacation do the rules of coffee go out the window. When I am home it’s boring watered-down black coffee.  When I am on vacation it’s vanilla or caramel lattes. I think about how many plastic lids I have saved just on this trip alone by using my reusable cup, twelve total!

9:30 am- I shower, fill my water bottle, and head up to the deck for yoga with Magic Giant. That’s what I love about the Rock Boat- everything is an experience!

11:00 am- After yoga, I looked for Tim at a show (he was saving seats for my friend Heather and me), but it was completely dark. There is no way I could find him, so I went to get something to eat. I completely missed breakfast so I grabbed some lunch.

12:00 pm- I went back to the room and left a note for Tim that I was at the pool deck show. He finds me.  

5:00 pm- We continue to see shows, hang with friends old and new, and eat.

Sunday Waste

REUSE: towel, washcloth, travel mugs

(could have been COMPOSTed): half of a dinner roll, unfinished salad, banana peels, tissues

RECYCLE: two beer bottles

LANDFILL: butter wrappers

Monday (Bahamas)

11:00 am- We are in the Bahamas! We pass on the tourist type of pictures they always want to take.  I am sure it is a great revenue for the cruise line but they print out so many pictures and I bet only 10% or less of the pictures are sold. We just say no thank you. Besides, there are so many friends on the boat that share pictures on Facebook, and the Rock Boat hires a photographer that puts pictures up online that you can get from him.

12:00 pm- Now on to the excursion to the Atlantis aquarium and beach. Before we even get to the van that takes us to the beach, they are selling bottled water. Only $1.00! I cave and buy one, but I am sure I could have taken my own water off the boat.  Next time I will. We wanted to get right to the beach.

1:00 pm- Lionel, our beach helper, got us a couple of beach chairs and a couple of coconut drinks. I asked for no straws. We talked a little bit about how they use to serve paper straws but that didn’t go over well with the customers. I buy some local handmade bracelets from Karen who was walking the beach. We had a nice talk with our beach neighbors- they are expecting so we shared a few kid stories. I ate the part of the coconut and tried to scrape more out with my bamboo knife. It worked a little bit, but then I broke it. I gave my other bamboo knife to our neighbors so he could try to scrape the coconut too. After I finished both drinks, Tim hit the two coconuts together to break it apart. My hero! I was then able to feast on coconut. Those drinks were a bit sweet. Sweet and a lot of heat is not a good mix for me so I washed it down with the water I bought earlier.


5:00 pm- I try to drink some of the champagne that we get every year. I have maybe two glasses and dump the rest. We continue through the rest of the night with music, dancing, friends, and food.

Monday Waste

REUSE: towel, washcloth, straws, travel mugs, bamboo utensils

(could have been COMPOSTed): apple core, bread, leftover dessert, eggs, tissues, coconuts

RECYCLE: water bottle, champagne bottle

LANDFILL: butter wrapper

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