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Green Boating: 6 Tips for the Eco-Minded Mariner

green boatingOver the past few years, more and more people have become concerned with the future of the environment, choosing to focus on finding eco-friendly ways to enjoy their lives.

This normally covers green traveling, transportation, cooking and eating, but did you know you can do green boating as well?

That’s right. Not only is green boating a thing, but it’s a crucial step in helping to maintain and even improve the environment.

If you enjoy sailing and want to know how to do it in an eco-friendly way, check out our top 7 tips for eco-friendly, green boating.

 #1 Spill proof fuelling

One of the first ways you can excel at green boating is by making sure you’re avoiding and minimizing spills while fueling.

When you’re changing oil, make sure to use an oil change pump that will allow you to transfer the oil to a spill-proof container.

In order to ensure your oil doesn’t spill, you can wrap an absorbent pad or some plastic bag around the oil filter.

This should help you avoid spilling any oil into the bilge.

#2 What to do if oils & fuel spills

In the situations where you accidentally spilled some fuel, don’t worry: there’s a green boating way to fix that.

First of all, you’ll need to determine the source of the oil spill and stop that as quickly as possible You’ll then need to notify the marina. They’ll normally have booms or absorbent pads on hand to help contain the spill.

Further, you’ll have to notify the Coast Guard and provide your location, spill source, amount spilled, the level of the threat and the weather conditions.

Make sure you don’t use any dish soap or detergent to treat the spill. This in fact does not get rid of the spill; instead, it only breaks it down into smaller droplets that can impact marine life.

#3 Gray water

If you’ve been sailing for a while or regularly use boat rentals, you’ll have heard of gray water.

Graywater is the untreated water that comes from the showers, washing machine, sinks, etc. on your boat.

While many simply dump this into the ocean, this untreated water actually has a lot of chemicals that can cause harm to the environment. In many states, this is considered sewage and is in fact a pollutant.

To avoid graywater (or minimize it), you should try to do your showering, laundry and dishwashing in the marina facilities. You should also use low-flow showerheads to minimize water usage.

#4 Non toxic cleaning products

When you spray, scrub and do other cleaning activities on your boat, the cleaning chemicals you’re using can seriously harm the environment.

Of course, when you consider how many cleaning products you use, it may seem insignificant, but factoring in how often it is done and how many people are doing it at the same time, it can be quite a problem.

In order to mitigate that, you should be using non-toxic cleaning products. Luckily, more and more brands are producing safe cleaning products. Make sure you research well which chemicals you’re using and, once you’ve found the right ones, stick with them.

#5 Sunscreens

Besides the chemicals in your cleaning products, you should also be focused on your own sunscreen.

While this is not discussed as often when it comes to eco-friendly boating, your attempts to avoid sunburn or worse can actually negatively impact marine life.

This is mostly because many people enjoy taking a dive from time to time, and the chemicals in your sunscreen can enter the water.

Specifically, a chemical known as oxybenzone, a common ingredient in many sunscreen brands, can actually be toxic to marine life.

To avoid that, try to use sunscreen that uses zinc or titanium dioxide instead.

#6 Waste & recycle

As you already know, plastic is one of the biggest dangers today facing marine life. With 8 million metric tons of plastic waste entering the ocean each year, and plastics notoriously do not biodegrade.

Besides plastic, there are also other types of waste that can cause harm to ocean life. In order to avoid that, you should:

  • Buy in bulk to reduce how much packaging you’ll have to deal with
  • Switch to reusable containers as much as possible
  • Never through items overboard
  • Make cuts in six-pack rings so that wildlife won’t get stuck in them
  • Bring back everything you took with you, or do Plus One Boating, where you bring back everything plus another trash item

With these green boating tips, you’ll be well on your way to helping the environment get back on track and making it a better world for us and all other life.


Bio: Nicolas Le Berre is a writer for Alternative Sailing, an international online peer to peer boat rental company.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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