8 Tips for Environmentally Conscious Boating
The only way that we can preserve the oceans for future generations and ensure that they're still worth enjoying is to practice eco-friendly boating at all times. Most people assume that they're being environmentally friendly, but might be doing something accidentally. Here are 8 tips that you might consider implementing to ensure that your boating is environmentally conscious at all times.
Most of these things might seem obvious, but they continue to happen so there is definitely a group of people out there that need to hear this message. If you don't do any of these things you still aren't green-certified until you take steps that go beyond not having an impact. My spouse often snags trash from the water closer to shore. A small gesture, but one that could change the world if we all did it.
When choosing a cleaning product it's very important to be aware of how it's impacting the environment. Most times you can achieve a decent level of clean with just a stiff boat brush and a boat hose attached to a source of fresh water. If you need to use something with a bit more oomph, just try and be aware of the impact you're having and always ensure that you aren't using more than is necessary to get the job done.
Copper Paint Problem
There are a lot of bottom-paints out there that contain an anti-fouling agent to keep them from being worn away by salt water. Unfortunately the agent chosen most often is copper oxide. Copper has a retarding effect on cell metabolism which is what prevents barnacles, but eventually this copper can leach into the water and have adverse effects on all manner of sea life. Please choose the right bottom paint for your boat.
Be Aware of Your Engine
Two stroke engines remains semi-popular largely due to their extremely cheap price tag, but the truth is that these little things are massively destructive to the environment. They use much more fuel, create more exhaust, and the real kicker? They spill as much as thirty percent of their unused fuel directly into the water. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and invest in a modern four-stroke engine. Not only do the four-strokes provide a smoother ride, they will also prove more eco-friendly which is definitely worth investing in.
The Sunscreen Problem
You might not be aware (I certainly wasn't) that the sunscreen you're wearing can become a sincerely dangerous chemical intrusion on the environment. Specifically the chemical oxybenzone. It is used in a wide range of sunscreen brands and can be toxic to fish and other marine life. Always check the ingredients and ensure that your chosen sunscreen only contains zinc or titanium dioxide.
Gas and Oil Accidents
Gas and oil are terrible, and we can't just point the finger at BP. Spillage and emissions from boats accounts for 85% of all oil in North American waters. Have you ever needed to refill the engine while on the water? I've been guilty of this with my little outboard motor and sometimes needs must, but it's a good idea to only refuel the engine once you're out of the water if at all possible. If that's not possible, here are 8 easy steps in case you run out of gas at sea.
Sewage Dumping Dilemma
Everybody has to go sometime. Luckily we are far beyond the point of needing to dump everything that we expel overboard. Onboard toilets are a fantastic modern convenience, but it needs to be used in a safe and environmentally conscious manner. It is illegal to dump raw sewage in any body of water that is navigable and within three miles of shore or inland waters.
Greywater Isn't Great
Greywater isn't sewage (blackwater) like the previous point mentions, but it needs to be treated just as, if not more, carefully when it comes to where it is dumped. Greywater often has chemicals in it that are harmful to the environment, and some states have gone as far as deeming all greywater equivalent to sewage. Use low flow faucets and showers, and do your cleaning ashore if you're able to.
Trash In The Water
This one should go without saying, but never EVER dump any sort of trash into the water. Plastic is one of the biggest offenders that we hear about, but almost anything thrown into the water that isn't meant to be there can cause its fair share of problems. Aluminum cans are another common one that isn't talked about anywhere near as often. They can take hundreds of years to degrade. Stow all of your trash and get rid of it once you're back on dry land.
There are plenty of things that aren't on this list that could be added. Most of them are common sense, but it still serves as a nice reality check. If you can think of any more then feel free to share them around. There is really no such thing as a bad idea when it comes to maintaining our environment. Here is where I'd usually make a joke about my lack of plastic straws, but I've moved past that point by now. Mostly.
Environmentally conscious boating is a relatively simple matter. Most people on the water are out there with the best intentions, but there are times that simply not screwing up isn't enough to claim the title of being eco-friendly. Be proactive! Next time you see a styrofoam cup floating in the water don't just 'tsk tsk' and move on. Go and get it! If we are all proactive we can keep the oceans a friendly and welcoming environment that can be enjoyed by all future generations.