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Eco-Friendly Boating – You Can Do It!


No one appreciates the sacredness of our water, land, and the creatures that live here, more than boaters. Boating fosters an intimate relationship between you and the natural world. While we can all agree that boating adds to our happiness, we don’t’ want it to add pollution and future troubles to our waters. Reducing carbon footprint, sustainable boating, and environmental stewardship may sound as challenging as navigating in rough water, but we’re here to let you know green boating can be almost effortless. Chances are you’re already doing it, and don’t even know it!


As we look forward to another spectacular boating season, here are a few eco-friendly things to think about:


Reduce your boating carbon footprint

It’s every boater’s responsibility to be stewards of our oceans, lakes, waterways and everything in between. To reduce your boating carbon footprint, there are a few inexpensive and simple changes you can make to prevent environmental harm before it even occurs.


Spill proof your boat

Always pay attention at the pump and fill your fuel tank slowly – listening carefully to make sure you don’t overfill it. Be sure you have an absorbent rag or spill kit on hand to catch any drips or spills. So that if you do spill, you clean up any excess oil or fuel with an absorbent material. While you’re at it, check your boat’s fuel lines and tanks for any cracks and leaks.


Improve fuel usage

If you’re using biodiesel, the renewable, non-toxic fuel that burns much cleaner with reduced air emissions, you’re set. If you’re not, there are still a few things you can do to improve your fuel usage – first, make sure your boat is properly maintained so you’re not wasting fuel, and keep in mind that slower speeds use less fuel!


Dispose of your waste and recycling the right way

What goes out with you when you’re boating, needs to come back with you. A day on the water usually includes snacks, beverages, and a proper disposal plan. Ensure that you have proper garbage and recycling receptacles onboard and dispose of them appropriately when you get back to the dock.


Proper management of blackwater and graywater

Blackwater, known as sewage discharge, is toxic to humans and extremely harmful to the environment. That’s why improperly disposing of sewage is illegal. If your boat has an onboard head, always empty it using proper pump out facilities. Likewise, graywater, all untreated water onboard your boat, is also a major pollutant. Your local marina can tell you where you can properly dispose of graywater.


Compensate for your impact

The Ocean Foundation’s Seagrass Grow program is a way to offset your carbon footprint. You can make a donation that goes toward the planting of seagrass meadows. Simply visit their website HERE to calculate your carbon footprint and donate accordingly.

Use only eco-friendly products

Fortunately, many marina products on the market today are now eco-friendly, meaning they won’t impact the environment negatively. When it comes time to buying products for your boat, like bottom paint and cleaning products, only purchase non-toxic varieties.


Eco-friendly boating products and techniques

There’s a whole world of green boating products and processes out there. Even the products that are not so green, can be better managed to make them less harmful. Here are just a few to add to your shopping and to-do lists:


Green Friendly Boat Cleaning Products

Labels are confusing. Most of the listed ingredients look like a different language all together. For just that reason, when you’re shopping for green and eco-friendly boat cleaners and soap, look for these key terms:

· EPA-Certified Green Seal the label

· Biodegradable

· Non-toxic


These are just a few viable eco-friendly boat cleaner and soap options:


Star Brite Sea Safe Biodegradable Boat Wash Soap

Boater’s Edge Wash – Biodegradable Boat Soap Concentrate


Ecofriendly Antifouling Bottom Paint

The bottom paint on boats is a major source of pollution. If you plan to have a boatyard paint your boat bottom, tell them you do not want any bottom paint that ablates copper or other hard metals. If you’re doing it yourself, look for one of these ecofriendly options:


SLIPS® Dolphin Bottom Paint

Ecominder Antifouling Boat Paint


Shrink-Wrap Recycling

Non-biodegradable shrink-wrap from one boat can weigh 15 pounds or more depending on the size of the boat, and take up a lot of space in a landfill – without ever breaking down in the soil. You can reduce plastic waste by eliminating or recycling your boat shrink wrap. Of course, switching to reusable, non-plastic alternatives, eliminating plastic wraps all together, is the best option.


If you choose recycling, you’ll find it’s actually quite easy. Your marina probably already participates in a recycling program, so a great start to recycle your shrink-wrap is to ask! The process is usually quick and convenient.


Other Green Onboard Products

Successful stewardship is all in the details. Small and cheap changes can make a big difference. These green products are a perfect place to start:


Compostable bags

Compostable flatware

Badger Sunscreen cream


Electric Boats Are the Future

The propulsion and power systems of all-electric boats are clean and efficient. They don’t pollute the air with carbon emissions, or the water with spilled fuel or toxic residues. That’s amazing news for boating and our planet. What’s motivating for boaters is that there has never been a larger selection of impressive electric and solar powered boats to choose from. From 25+’ foiling sport boats, to 59+’ catamarans, electric boats have never been a more exciting option!


Check out some of the outstanding electric vessels from these manufacturers:

Elco Motor Yachts



X Shore



Written by: Jo Montgomery