When it comes to the environment, the issue has always been translating the superyacht industry's love of the ocean into action to protect it. So we were delighted when the stewardesses on MY IRISHA got in touch to tell us how they've made their on board operations more eco-friendly, hoping to inspire others to do the same.
Dynamic Chief Stew Jane Brécheteau has taken big leaps to reduce the superyacht's dependency on single-use plastic. Jane and fellow stews have also created an Instagram movement 'Girls Go Green on Yachts' to share their initiatives like homemade cleaning products and reusing packaging.
Committed to 7 star service with a lighter footprint, Jane is keen to show that taking care of the oceans is compatible with luxury superyachting. We catch up with her to hear about life onboard IRISHA and how we can "no longer avoid caring about the environment".
OnboardOnline: How did you get into the yachting industry and how long have you been a chief stewardess?
Jennifer (Jane) Brécheteau: A part of my family has strong ties to the sea. I have people in my family who are fishermen, who work in maritime trade and in the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco; there's even a famous diver in my family! I grew up in this sea environment and after my art school diplomas and differents jobs in the cultural sector (fashion and art galleries) I started helping some friends doing day charter on their boats.
I then decided I wanted to do it as a full time job. I started as sole stew and quickly moved up to chief stewardess. I was lucky enough to always find captains who trusted me and gave me a chance (on yachts of 20m, 34m, 49m and 51m). I have been a chief stewardess for four years now.
Jane: I joined IRISHA, a 51m Heesen, in the shipyard in Holland. She was built in Heesen shipyard and has recently won a few design awards. We are a crew of nine with multiple nationalities and we are lucky to all be employed year round.
OO: What’s the ethos onboard and how many nationalities do you have onboard?
Jane: We are a young very diverse crew with Croatian, English, French, Maltise and New Zealander crew members. We all connected very well, everybody has a great team spirit and we are all happy to work together. That makes life onboard easier and we are all on the same page abour preserving our environment the best we can.
Jane: I arrived in Holland two months before the end of construction and I was happy to be involved and help with the final details before the boat was launched.
OO: You’re passionate about the environment so how does this influence the way you run the interior department?
Jane: I would not say that I am exactly passionate about the environment but rather that it's a subject we can no longer avoid talking or caring about. In our job, we are always in contact with the environment and it's a disaster to see how much pollution we are sometimes surrounded by. I really think that one person can make a difference and inspire others. On board a yacht, officers are an example for the rest of the crew, which is why I always try to do my best to apply the three rules of reduce, reuse, recycle.
Stews Going Green on MY IRISHA: Jessica Gordon, Jane Brécheteau, Zoë Muscat
OO: Since plastic pollution has been so widely covered in the press, is it easier now for crew to take the lead and discuss alternative solutions with owners?
Jane: For sure, that has helped a lot and the fact it is now "trendy" to take care of the environment. It is actually easier for the crew to get owners to accept some changes. With my Captain Aaron Udall for example, we got a water filter system installed on board, which dispenses chilled and boiling water that we use for crew and guests. That means no more plastic bottles used, more storage space freed up, less time wasted in buying, transporting and storing and, at the end of the day, a lot of money saved too.
The crew have their own bottle to refill everyday and for the guests we create a water station everyday with still, sparkling and flavoured waters. For next season I will buy some small strong bottles that are easy to transport everywhere (beach, sport, tender...).
We are lucky that the owners of IRISHA are very supportive of this kind of change as they see it is good for them too. They also prefer us to use our homemade laundry detergent for them and their family rather than a classic supermarket one. It's a similar price but without the chemicals.
OO: Are you free to choose which toiletries and cleaning products you use on board?
Jane: Absolutely, I am in charge of it and the owners trust me so that makes everything easier. We have created our own homemade products from simple ingredients like neutral soap, vinegar, alcohol, baking soda, essential oils... and this winter we are having a go at making our own toiletries.
OO: Are you also seeing changes in the food choices people make, for guests and crew, and a trend towards vegetarian and vegan menus?
Jane: Definitely! Almost all the guests on board have a preferred food list, it is a trend but people are developing more and more intolerances too. The guests who come on board mostly have a strict diet and are quite active. They are very careful about what they eat and appreciate that our Chef Charly Valdez always gives them options and tries new trend recipes without gluten, without lactose, without meat, etc. He is also very understanding with crew who have an intolerance and who want healthy options.
OO: You and your fellow crew attended the Clearwater seminar delivered by Emily Penn during the Monaco Yacht Show last year - what did you learn and how has it influenced operations on IRISHA?
Jane: I was very pleased to meet Emily Penn, she helped me realise that we should talk more about what we are all trying to do to help the environment. After attending her conference I decided I wanted to spread the word about what we're doing onboard to other crew and yachts. Since I started to speak out about this, I have received very positive feedback and comments. Some other chief stewardesses have got in touch who want to start a collaboration and organise workshops to help other crews do the same things on board as MY IRISHA.
OO: What would you change if you could?
Jane: I would like to change plastic pollution. "The world’s annual consumption of plastic materials has increased from approximately five million tonnes in the 1950s to nearly 230 million tonnes today". I really wish all factories would stop using plastic and be more sensitive by creating environmentally friendly, biodegradable or edible packaging such as edible agar seaweed packaging like Evoware.
OO: Owners often get a hard time from environmentalists but many are passionate about the environment and actively support research and other initiatives - what’s your experience in this regard?
Jane: I can’t speak for my owners but I can say they are very supportive of our environmentally friendly way of running the boat. As a superyacht we use a lot of consumable products, which is why I think it's important that each crew member acts daily in a sensible way. First for the trash, we have different bins to recycle like other boats but, instead of consuming things and throwing them out, we started to reuse a lot of the packaging like plastic and glass jars. Secondly, with the Chef Charly Valdez we try to buy more 'responsibly' by reducing plastic packaging, buying more paper wrapping or more environmentally friendly products.
Eco-friendly ingredients for homemade cleaning products
And finally, we create our own cleaning products every month such as dishwashing tablets, washing machine detergent, all surface cleaner, etc. We were helped by articles on OnboardOnline. As stewardesses, we understand that during high season there isn’t always time to make products but in supermarkets we try to buy the most environmentally friendly cleaning products and food.
Winter is a good time to make products in bulk and remember, every little thing we do counts even if it's following the simple rule of REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.
OO: How do you think the yachting industry will change over the next 10 years?
Jane: I am sure more and more boats will become more eco-friendly. The policy given by the officers on board is more responsible, to take better care of the environment and be very strict on recycling and protecting the human first. For the most part, boat owners are passionate about the sea and want to be more eco-friendly travelers.
There are hybrid boats now too, such as the Greenline range: "at a flip of a switch, you can dictate whether the yacht runs on diesel or electricity. When running on electricity, the yacht has a sailing range of 20 nautical miles (23 miles). It also comes with solar panels to help recharge the battery." I hope it will be the future.
OO: Who do you admire in the world of yachting?
Jane: My captain Aaron Udall, he is a very good example to all crew generations. I have worked with him for three years and I have to say that I am very lucky to share experiences and work with a great professional and human like him. He is very sensitive to the environment and always encourages us to work better, safer and more eco-friendly. He is very supportive of our actions and association 'Girls Going Green' (on instagram @gggren_yachts).
OO: What has been the greatest experience in your yachting career so far?
Jane: The greatest experience is the current time for me. I think it is to see yourself improve month after month, year after year, and see how you become a better person, take on more responsibilities, do something good with others in your job and out of it, be an example for other crew members.
The logo of the Instagram movement "Girls Going Green", started by Jane and other stewardesses.
OO: Which is your favourite marina or destination and why?
Jane: That is a difficult question, I guess it is a part of why I work and live on a boat, I like so many different landscapes, ports and cultures. I am French so I will say that I really like the island of Porquerolles in France as it's small and looks like a private paradise where you can cycle, sail and do incredible free dives! We recently spent a lot of time in Corsica and Sardinia, beautiful destinations too! Otherwise I like the exoticism of the Pacific islands and would be curious to do a cruise there.
OO: Which three objects would you take to your desert island?
Jane: My Japanese knives, my yoga mat, and my watercolour pencils. To live you need to take care of your body as well as your mind.
OO: What is your motto?
Jane: There are two types of people in this world, one finds an excuse, the other finds a way. "It doesn’t take guts, gumption, or determination to find an excuse, anybody can locate one. It takes quality people to find a way over, under, around or right through any obstacle that stands in the way" - Spencer Hays.
If you'd like to make your own cleaning products and reduce single-use plastic on board your yacht, you'll find further inspiration here:
*Photos courtesy of Jane Brécheteau, Heesen Yachts and Superyachts Monaco (IRISHA).