Earth Day, which is celebrated every year on April 22, is a great day for boaters to show their support for environmental protection. The world’s waterways are our playgrounds, and protecting them is a core part of what it means to be a member of the boating community.
In addition to following "green boating" best practices on a regular basis, here are seven ways that boaters can celebrate Earth Day this year.
1. Clean Up Your Local Beaches & Waterways
Beach cleanups are often organized all across the country and beyond by the Surfrider Foundation, Ocean Conservancy, Ocean Blue Project, and other similar organizations. Likewise, a few years ago in Holland, a company called Plastic Whale, started offering two-hour “plastic fishing cruises.” These cruises are just what they sound like: People book a short cruise during which they use nets and other tools to fish plastic out of Dutch canals. In a single year, the effort can add up to more than 30,000 plastic bottles.
Why not take some friends out for a “plastic fishing cruise” on your own boat?
- Take a slow spin around a local harbor;
- Fish some trash out of your own favorite waterways;
- Post the photos of everything you snag on social media, the same way fishermen post photos of their prize catch;
- By doing so, it's possible you’ll also inspire more boaters to do the same.
2. Go for Reef-Friendly Sunscreens
Coral reefs don’t like sunscreen—in particular, they don’t like the ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can contribute to coral bleaching and death. In a handful of places, including Key West, Florida, sunscreens containing these ingredients are outright banned in an attempt to protect the marine environment.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for a ban where you go boating in order to make a change. When shopping for sunscreen, you can still look for products that deliver SPF 15, 30, and 50+ protection, all the while still being free of oyxbensonze and containing no harmful chemicals such as PABA, parabens and phthalates. Many of these reef- and environment-friendly sunscreens are also made without any animal by-products or animal testing.
3. Opt for Eco-Friendly Boating Cleaning Products
“Green cleaners,” as they’re often called in chandleries and marine-supply stores, are cleaning products for boats that are formulated to minimize environmental impact. With a quick Google search for "eco-friendly boat cleaner," you'll find a wide variety range of options to choose from.
One example is West Marine's Pure Oceans Crystal Boat Soap, made with a concentrated, eco-friendly formula that works without harsh inorganic compounds or other harmful components—and it works with boat fresh or saltwater.
Another option is Star brite's Sea Safe Boat Wash, which is marketed as biodegradable. Star brite says it’s specifically formulated to be environmentally responsible—and to work on all marine surfaces, from fiberglass to rubber and vinyl.
4. Switch to Sustainable Sunglasses
Costa Sunglasses' Untangled Collection previously made our list of 5 Eco-Friendly Boating Products Making a Difference, so it's no surprise that they make another appearance here. Costa estimates that each year, almost 640,000 tons of discarded fishing nets and gear pollute our oceans.
To combat this form of ocean plastic pollution, Costa joined forces with Bureo, who work with fisherman to prevent discarded nets form polluting oceans and harming marine life. The Untangled Collection uses pellets that have been recycled down from raw material from fishing nets to mold the sunglass frames. The collection features styles for both men and women, including polarized options.
5. Purchase a 4Ocean Bracelet to Help Fund Plastic Removal from our Oceans
4ocean, an organization on a mission to end the ocean plastic crisis, hires full-time captains and crews to recover trash from ocean, rivers and coastlines. They have cleanup divisions in Florida, Bali, Haiti and Guatemala, where whatever can be recycled is turned into reusable products. Money used from the sale of some of those products goes back into helping the effort.
The 4Ocean bracelet is the best-known product offering, and it comes in all kinds of shapes and colors. There also are box sets, such as this one, containing every bracelet that was released in 2019. Since each bracelet purchase funds a pound of plastic being removed from the world’s waters, the box set contributes to 12 pounds of trash being cleaned.
Bonus Tip: Explore Electric Boat & Motor Options
Electric outboard motors are no longer a novelty item. Companies like Torqeedo, for example, offer a whole line of them, with models built to size for everything from small skiffs to dinghies to motorboats.
These electric outboards have features such as gauges that work like a car’s fuel gauge, only showing the remaining range left on the outboard’s battery. And of course, because there is no pollution from exhaust gases or oil, the engine itself makes boating safer for the environment. Not to mention quieter—an added bonus for many boaters.
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