According to National Geographic, more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris litter our oceans. This trash poses an imminent danger to both humans and animals. Fish and other animals get tangled in the debris. More will mistake plastic bags, cans, etc., as food and eat them. In addition, small organisms will feed on microplastic and absorb the chemicals from the plastic into their tissues. In this way, microplastic pollution migrates up the food chain, eventually becoming part of our food.
It's more important than ever to remember our boating practices impact the oceans, lakes, and waterways we love. We know there is no better picture than clear skies and blue waters as boaters, so the better we protect it, the better boating will be. Below you'll find a few clean boating tips that you should always keep in mind while cruising on the water. Go green, boater style! Create less garbage, and keep any trash you do make out of our waterways.
Staying engaged is half the battle considering the overwhelming amount of information that bombards us concerning the environment. Checking out what organizations are in your state is a great starting point. For example, we like the Rhode Island Marine Trade Association's Environmental Programs. So stay the course: the more you read environmental news, work with advocacy groups, and participate in forums, the more likely you are to stick with your green habits.
It may not seem like your actions add up, but they do. You've likely already seen handy checklists of easy habits you can adopt to decrease your carbon footprint (like Discover Boating's Green Boating Guide), so hop to it! Reuse plastic bags, carry a reusable water bottle, keep your boat properly maintained – you know the drill. If you're still using plastic straws, be prepared to get the stink-eye from people – or switch to paper.
In 2016, the New York Times published their favorite environmental apps. We're pretty partial to #Climate, which is free on iOS and lets you interact with and share information on social media as you learn. With each harbor you visit, run the ZIP code through Scorecard, an online pollution calculator which shows you an area’s history of chemical releases, pollution, and water and air quality.
Part of the reason we love boating is that it gets us out on the water, away from exhaust fumes, asphalt, and noise. If you appreciate fresh air and clean water as much as we do, show your support of organizations working to keep our oceans clean: volunteer and donate. Once you do, you’ll have an even greater appreciation for the work it takes to keep our planet blue and green. Exxpedition is one of our favorites — an all-female crew sailing worldwide to work and investigate the causes of and create solutions for ocean plastic pollution. Check out our other favorite organizations to support in our World Wildlife Day post.
You don't have to check any of these items off alone. Get the crew on board! As you're adopting these environmentally healthy habits, make them your boat's standard operating procedure. The best way to make someone fall in love with the water as much as you do? Get them out on it!
Many colleges and universities offer free online courses on everything from climate change science to environmental law. Unlike a textbook, these courses provide the latest theories and interactive instruction and introduce you to fellow online learners worldwide with a similar interest in the environment.
Seeing first-hand and high-def the beauty of nature and the threats it faces can have a more lasting impression and motivate you to take action. So as you explore your next harbor, visit a nature sanctuary or take yourself on a homemade nature tour with a local guidebook. Stuck indoors? Check out the award-winning BBC documentary series Planet Earth.
A pro-tip on fueling up: keep the soap out of the equation. Dish soap, often believed to be a solution to a cleaning up fuel spills, weighs the fuel down to the seafloor. Instead, use oil-absorbing pads and keep the dish soap in the galley. Please read our full post on Tips for Fueling Up.
Many states have Clean Marina programs and incentives, and marinas work hard to meet the requirements and be good ocean ambassadors. Whatever state you're in, check to see if the marina you're headed toward is a designated Clean Marina – and if they're not, let them know they should be.
What’s your story? We’re on a mission to highlight the boating world’s entrepreneurs, small businesses, community organizations, and solo initiatives – drop us a line here to get the ball rolling.