Sustainable Boating: The Ultimate Guide

How to Go Green While Boating

If you care about the environment, you've probably spent significant time thinking about the sustainability of your daily habits. Is boating sustainable? And are there strategies you can use to make it more sustainable?

Sustainability is a complex topic and not something that can be reduced to a black-and-white vision. However, you can take the time to better understand the sustainability of your habits and choose better habits in the future.

What Is Sustainable Boating?

Sustainable boating, or “green” boating, is boating in a way that preserves and protects the environment. It means avoiding certain habits and certain practices responsible for environmental damage and prioritising clean, non-impactful choices whenever possible.

As an individual, you can make a meaningful impact. And if we all collectively engage in sustainable boating habits, we can make a huge difference, keeping our environment clean, preserving local wildlife populations, and making sure that our waters remain enjoyable and accessible for generations to come.

Minimise Pollution

One of the most important things to do is minimise pollution. Avoid polluting the water so the water stays cleaner and local populations are less affected.

  • Fuel with care. Avoid spilling any fuel into the water.
  • Address any fuel or oil spills. If you do spill oil or fuel, clean it up by skimming or using a specialised clean-up product.
  • Dispose of blackwater and greywater properly. Dump your blackwater and greywater only in specially designated areas.
  • Reduce waste. Never throw your trash in the water.

It's also important to avoid polluting the air.

  • Understand your carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is a shorthand term for the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants you introduce into the air. Ideally, you should reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible.
  • Pay attention to your fuel usage. Combustible fuel increases the amount of carbon dioxide and pollutants you introduce into the air. That doesn't mean you should stop using fuel altogether, but you should avoid wasting fuel unnecessarily.
  • Rely on electric or efficient outboard engines. If possible, rely on electric outboard engines or efficient modern engines. Newer engines tend to be much more efficient than older ones, and electric ones have a much smaller carbon footprint.
  • Convert to biodiesel. Biodiesel is renewable and non-toxic. It also burns clean. Best of all, it's inexpensive and relatively easy to convert your engine to using biodiesel.
  • Use supplemental renewable energy when possible. Consider using solar power or wind power as a source of supplemental energy. Solar and wind energy are completely renewable and highly clean.
  • Maintain your vessel. Always take the time to maintain your vessel. Inspecting your engine, changing the oil, and practicing other routine maintenance tasks will make sure it operates at peak efficiency.

Use Eco-Friendly Products

Consider using eco-friendly products, designed to protect wildlife and avoid unnecessary pollution.

  • Choose an eco-friendly sunscreen. Sunscreen is an absolute must when you're boating, but some types of sunscreens are filled with harmful chemicals that can interfere with local wildlife and pollute the water. Choose an eco-friendly sunscreen instead.
  • Use non-toxic cleaners. When cleaning your boat, always prioritize the use of non-toxic cleaners. These tend to be inexpensive and easy to find, and they make a massive difference in increasing your sustainability.
  • Select your paints carefully. If you're going to paint your boat, select your paints carefully. Some paints are specifically designed to result in less pollution and cause less environmental damage.

Protect Wildlife

It's also important to protect wildlife directly.

  • Anchor properly. Pay attention to how you anchor, and anchor responsibly. Make sure you know where you're anchoring and the proper rules for anchoring in this area. Avoid dragging your anchor, especially if it's stuck, and if you're going to anchor multiple times in the same general location, try to keep it in the same place to avoid disrupting different populations.
  • Avoid using propellers in shallow water. Spinning your propellers in shallow water is dangerous for both wildlife and plant life. Propeller scarring can destroy local plant populations, making it harder for animals to feed. It can also damage or kill certain animals. Use a depth finder and other navigational tools to help you avoid this.
  • Keep distance from marine wildlife. If you see marine wildlife, especially mammals, keep your distance. Getting too close could put them in danger and disrupt their usual habits. It's also important to avoid feeding wildlife; certain human foods may be poisonous to them, and some animals may get dependent on human feeding.
  • Fish responsibly. If you're going to fish, fish responsibly. Overfishing is a massive problem and one that's completely preventable. Pay attention to local regulations and recommendations for fishing practices, and don't fish more than you need. Throw back any caught species that are endangered or protected, and never leave behind old fishing gear.
  • Pay attention to invasive species. Invasive species are incredibly harmful to local ecosystems. They tend to outcompete local populations, eventually taking over and disrupting the natural course of things. Pay attention to which species are invasive, and if you encounter any invasive species, remove them from the environment. It's also important not to introduce any new invasive species, so don't release any fish or other species that don't belong in this environment.

Other Habits

You may also consider other habits you have, peripherally related to boating. For example, how far and how often do you travel? Do you use reusable shopping bags when you shop for supplies? Do you blast the air conditioning when you get home or rely on a cool shower and circulating fans to cool down?

As you can see, it’s neither expensive nor time-consuming to engage in more sustainable boating habits. You certainly don’t have to give up boating, and you probably don’t have to give up anything you love about boating; instead, a few habit changes and a bit of vigilance can take you a long way. If you’re looking for a newer, more efficient vessel, it may be time for an upgrade.

Browse our selection of new and used boats for sale if you’re ready to start shopping!

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