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As an American, the old adage from the Great Depression of the 1930’s, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” takes on a certain resonance here in the Antarctic.
At the E-Base and E-Home, everything that can be recycled is recycled, and not in the sense of putting down your second cup of coffee, lightheartedly separating milk cartons from newspapers, leaning out the back door, and tossing them in their respective recycling bins, but recycling in the sense of pulling on rubber boots, bundling up in cold-weather clothing and wandering around Bellingshausen scouring trash, scrap wood, packing materials, etc, and looking at everything with a gimlet eye to determine what can be reused or turned into something useful. There are no handy hardware or camping supply stores in the Antarctic, and if you need something, you have to be creative.
Plastic loading pallets left from a resupply ship to one of the international research stations in the area form the floor of the E-Home, and a rusting pile of decades old angle-iron and steel cable become, with the help of a hacksaw and some physical effort, a full set of tent stakes and guy-line to secure the E-Home against strong storm winds. A futon bed frame with broken legs, thanks to some clever handiwork from Russell, is turned into a wall-mounted desk at the E-Base. Scrapwood of various sizes and lengths form the frame of our solar water heating system.
When one of the wind generator tailfins broke, we weren’t able to call a friendly toll-free telephone number to order a replacement—instead we wired it back together with some (found) steel cable, and soon the generator was aloft and generating electricity again.
Even the cardboard box from the crew of the ship Vavilov that once contained a going-away present of fresh fruit (alas, the fruit is long gone…hello Scurvy!) is now, after being cut down to form a flat surface, serving as the floor mat for our muddy boots as we enter the E-Base.
Making do, Antarctic style…