Boating Lifestyle

Green Boating

The Boating Guy talks green boating

The boating lifestyle is a great way to spend time with family and friends, enjoying the water. As boaters, it is our shared responsibility to help keep the waters and resources that we use healthy for generations to come. We’re happy to do it and we know you are too!

Saving on Fuel

  • Boaters are considering ways to reduce fuel consumption while on the water, including reducing cruising speed, tuning the engine and taking shorter trips.
  • Unlike driving a car, a boat's engine is often idle or turned off while anchoring, floating or at the dock (all three of which are some of boaters' favorite on-the-water activities).
  • An average size powerboat uses about 20 gallons of gas over an entire weekend. A $1 increase in gas means they will spend just $20 more.
  • Boaters are beginning to buy engines that better match their boats. If engines have to be run at near or open throttle most of the time, its too small for the boat and its load and fuel consumption and emissions will exceed normal
  • Click here to read tips for reducing fuel usage.
  • Our nation’s aquatic habitats are important, and can be put into jeopardy by invasive species. Do your part to help STOP the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) and protect the habitats native to our waterways. Learn more about how what AIS are, how to spot them and what you can do to prevent them here.

Top Tips for Greener Boating

Tip 1
Clean safely

Look for the EPA-Certified "Design for the Environment" DfE label, which quickly identifies cleaning products that can help protect the environment and assures you that the products have minimal environmental impact and are safer for you and your family. While painting your boat, use legal bottom paints and biodegradable cleaning agents to ensure that no paint or cleansers enter the water. When searching for environmentally responsible boat cleaning products, search the Green Seal's database of 'Green Seal Certified' products at

Tip 2
Maintain proper equipment

Be sure your engine reaches its designed wide-open-throttle RPM by choosing a correctly-sized prop with the right pitch. Adjustable-pitch propellers and modular props may help to keep your boat running efficiently and ultimately reduce fuel consumption. Make sure your boat, engine and propeller are in good operating condition to avoid wasting fuel and minimize the chances of any oil, gasoline or other hazardous materials entering the water.

Tip 3
Recycle your waste

Dispose of paints, batteries, antifreeze, cleaning products, oil and other hazardous wastes at a waste collection facility when you return to land. 12V batteries are among the most recycled products in the world. Many marine accessories stores offer a $10.00 credit on a new battery when you return your used one. Never discharge your sewage when you are near the shore. Check local rules and regulations for specific restrictions. Nearby pump-out stations and shore-side facilities are available for proper waste disposal.

Tip 4
Recycle your monofilament fishing line

Protect marine life by properly disposing of monofilament fishing line at nearby marine accessories stores and shore side recycling locations. If you're unable to locate a recycling location, visit for a list of facilities in your area. Get involved in the recycling effort by researching Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Programs, efforts to educate the public on the problems caused by monofilament line left in the environment, to encourage recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations, and to conduct volunteer monofilament line cleanup events.

Tip 5
Prevent fuel spills

Ensure fuel does not discharge from the vent line as a result of overfilling by avoiding ‘topping off’ your tank. Stop ‘spit back’ from the fuel fill by fueling at a slow rate.

Tip 6
Chart your course

Study your waterways to prevent boat propellers from damaging sensitive sea floor habitats or injuring marine life. Avoid consuming excess fuel supply and plan your trip in advance to avoid confusion and misdirection. Use an autopilot, which can steer better than most captains and maintain a longer attention span.

Tip 7
Maintain a clean bilge

Consider a bioremediation product such as BIO-SOK to convert hydrocarbons into safe compounds.

Tip 8
Stow your trash

Keep your trash onboard and never throw cigarette butts, fishing line, or any other garbage into the ocean. Take advantage of shore-side facilities to recycle plastic, glass, metal and paper. Recycle your winter storage shrink-wrap at local marinas, dealers and suppliers.

New Green Developments

Family enjoying green boating

Marine generator manufacturers have also made significant investments to develop and market products that limit carbon monoxide emissions — in some instances by 99% — garnering several honors for their efforts. Manufacturers also offer marine exhaust mufflers and catalyst systems to protect boaters and our waters by removing hydrocarbons from generator exhaust.

Boat builders and manufacturers have begun constructing environmentally friendly boat building shops, using green engineering to be energy efficient in every practical way to achieve the latest cutting edge composite construction technology. Such buildings will also incorporate waste water collection systems, pumping it to engineered wetlands where the water will be treated naturally before being discharged.

Boating Accessories and Marine Engines Go Green

Environmentally-Friendly Cleaning Products

Many marine cleaning products developed today demonstrate a commitment to clean water. Companies have developed non-toxic based biodegradable boat soaps, which have a minimal impact on the aquatic environment. We've also seen the introduction of color safe, oxygen release gels and cleansers that remove spots off of boats without using bleach or other hazardous materials.

Increasingly "green" products are a large, growing segment of the market. Cleaners that are more organic in their bases — like orange, vinegar, and baking soda based products — and products that are biodegradable and non-toxic. These products are advertised to work just as well — if not better — than traditionally used chemical based cleaners. New non metal based products are being tested and introduced and the industry expects that we will see significant advances in this area in the future. Being a responsible, "green" boater also means taking care of your hull with proper cleaning and maintenance to prevent hard marine growth like barnacles that slow a boat down and impact fuel efficiency. Many manufactures are developing more environmentally-friendly paint strippers using biodegradable products that remove antifouling paint without the use of traditional toxic chemicals. Today's clean marinas are also doing their part, with boatyard areas that are environmentally responsible.

Environmentally-Friendly Marine Aftermarket Accessories

Innovative companies in our industry have developed ways to extend the life of batteries in harsh marine environments. Some products are designed to reduce premature battery failure caused by periods of inactivity. These systems utilize the power of the battery and return it as a surge or pulse. These products can also revive many older batteries back to their original state.

Even portable handheld horns are going environmentally friendly through environmentally-friendly gas use, or even through chemical-free horns that use air. When the horn is empty, you use a simple bicycle pump to recharge the horn without the use of batteries or disposable metal containers.

Improvements in Marine Sanitation

Marine sanitation manufacturers are providing consumers with new products to protect the marine environment from boat sewage. Manufacturers have developed and marketed innovative technologies that treat, store and contain waste more effectively.

One company has done this through improved maceration processes that also utilize an electrolytic decontamination. Another company has developed an aerobic biological treatment system that uses air, water, and naturally occurring bacteria to convert waste water to water and carbon dioxide. Manufacturers are also developing environmentally-friendly products to limit holding tank odors. New product lines for holding tanks eliminate odors without using formaldehyde or other harsh chemicals. Industry and government have also partnered to significantly increase the number of pump out facilities located in popular boating areas.

Marine Engines Go Green

Boaters and anglers are the original conservationists - they are the ones experiencing our nation's waterways first hand. Marine engine manufacturers have invested billions of dollars to develop cleaner, more efficient engines - direct fuel injected (DFI) two-stroke engine technology and four-stroke engines and more recently catalyst and onboard emissions diagnostic systems for stern drive and inboard engines.

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new regulations in the mid-1990's for boat engines to reduce emissions, recreational boat engine manufacturers responded by developing Direct Fuel Injected (DFI) two stroke engines and four stroke engines similar to the ones that power many cars. This was no small feat, and required the development of new, complex technologies. Fuel efficiency demonstrations have shown that today's marine outboard engines are far superior in terms of fuel efficiency, emissions and noise. They have reduced emissions by 75% - 90% and are 38% more fuel efficient than 20 years ago.

Furthermore, recreational boat and engine manufacturers have worked on the development of fuel additives that also contribute to fuel economy and performance while reducing smoke and emissions, thereby making the fuel boaters use cleaner. Manufacturers and marinas often work together to pre-blend these products making it easier for boaters to use them.