Boating is always fun, but if you’re not careful, it could negatively impact the environment. Boats, like many vehicles, consume fuel and contribute to air pollution – and spills from other areas of the boat can get into the water and damage the ecosystem.
Fortunately, with the right combination of strategies, you can stay environmentally friendly while boating.
Shop for an AC Induction Motor
First, consider getting an AC induction motor for your boat. AC induction electric motors tend to be about 30 percent more efficient than their DC counterparts, and more than 50 percent more efficient than a combustion motor. With an electric motor on your boat, you’ll be able to do more with less energy – and you’ll be responsible for less pollution, dramatically improving your environmental impact.
Consider an Alternative Type of Boat
If you love to be on the water, but you’re concerned about the level of pollution you’re producing, you could consider an alternative type of boat altogether. For example, you could invest in a sailboat with no motor, relying purely on the power of wind to navigate the seas. You could also invest in a kayak or a similarly human-powered craft to enjoy the water.
Reduce Pollutant Spills
One of the biggest sources of environmental damage from boats is direct pollution. After a fueling incident or a point of damage to an engine, a boat could leak gasoline or oil into the water. These types of spills are incredibly difficult to clean up (and sometimes, difficult to notice). In many cases, the oil can have detrimental health effects for all species that live in or near the water around the spill, killing fish and permanently crippling birds.
There are a few things you can do to prevent this possibility:
- Fuel your boat responsibly. First, make sure you’re fueling your boat responsibly. Only fill up your tank at a designated fuel station when the waters are calm – and never overfill your tank. Pay attention to your surroundings so that if there is a leak, you can catch it early.
- Pay attention to fractures. Inspect your boat for possible fractures. Even a small point of damage in your fuel tank or in your engine can cause a spill.
- Get your boat maintained regularly. Finally, have your boat maintained on a regular basis, whether you’re doing the work yourself or dropping it off with a professional. During this thorough inspection, you’ll have a chance to catch damage before it grows any worse – and ensure the boat is in fully functioning condition.
Have a Plan for Sewage and Greywater
If you’re going to be on the boat for more than a few hours, you’ll need to have a plan for wastewater and greywater. Throwing waste overboard isn’t good for the environment – and may be illegal, depending on where you are. Investing in MSD (Marine Sanitation Devices) can give you a viable option; just make sure to dispose of your water properly once you return to shore.
Dispose of Your Garbage Responsibly
This should go without saying, but make sure you’re disposing of all your garbage responsibly. When you finish a can of soda or need to spit out your gum, place it in an onboard trash can and bring it back to shore with you. Throwing trash in the water is an egregious violation of the environment.
Use the Right Types of Products
Next, consider the types of products you’re using for your boat.
- Green cleaners. Look for cleaning products that claim to be environmentally friendly, made from natural ingredients. Certain brands and types of products with harsh chemicals can negatively impact wildlife.
- Better sunscreen. Some sunscreens and lotions contain substances like oxybenzone, which has the potential to bleach coral – and ultimately damage the environment. Shop for a “green” sunscreen product you can use to stay safe in the sun.
- Environmentally friendly paint. Some types of paint for your boat will contain copper oxide, a compound known to limit bacterial growth. While this does have some advantages for your boat, it can also be harmful for the environment.
Pay Attention to (and Follow) Fishing Laws
Finally, if you’re going to fish on your vessel, pay close attention to the fishing laws in your area. Overfishing can be a serious problem, so it’s your responsibility to understand and follow all regulations to the best of your ability.
With these steps, you can make your boating expeditions much more environmentally friendly. As a single individual, your impact will necessarily be minimal, but if every boat owner in the world committed to following these basic practices, we could help keep our waters cleaner – and protect the environments that bring us so much joy for generations to come.