As boaters and yachties, it’s up to all of us to help protect the ecosystems that we love so much.
Now, we recognise that calling a motor boat environmentally friendly is a contradiction in terms, but there are many opportunities to participate in our favourite water activities while being friendlier on the environment. From low-friction hulls to rubbish recycling, running fans instead of air conditioning to using rechargeable batteries and recycling garbage – all of these “little” steps add up and make a huge difference. Plus, with the growing availability of green marine products, there really is no reason for us not to do our part.
One of the easiest and best ways to get started in the green marine movement is to use environmentally-responsible boat cleaning products. Afterall, where does your soapy runoff go? Straight into the ocean. Eco-friendly cleaners can often be made using products you already have in your cupboard – meaning they’re far cheaper than store-bought harsh products. There is also a huge range (and growing) of sustainable products to use for maintaining your boat.
Some examples of natural, non-toxic cleaners:
- Fiberglass Stains: Make a paste of baking soda and water. Use a sponge or soft cloth and gently rub the mix into the stain. This paste can also be used to clean onboard showers and heads. While baking soda is an excellent all-around cleaner, keep in mind that it is abrasive, so use with care. Use lemon or lime juice as a final wipe-down for a shiny, fresh-smelling finish.
- Windows and Mirrors: Mix vinegar, lemon juice and warm water. Fill a spray bottle with the solution. Spray it on your windows and wipe with paper towels or newspapers.
- Chrome: Use apple cider vinegar on a soft cotton cloth to rub it clean. Then, use a fresh cloth with a dab of baby oil to restore it to a bright shine.
- Brass: Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and salt solution
- Copper Fittings: Make a paste of either lemon or lime juice and salt. Rub gently to clean.
- Stainless Steel: Clean with a cloth dampened with undiluted white vinegar.
- Aluminum: Using a soft cloth, clean with a solution of cream of tartar and water.
- Plastic Surfaces: Use a mixture of one part white vinegar and two parts warm water.
- Decks: Use a mixture of one part white vinegar and eight parts warm water.
- Interior Woods: Can be cleaned by using olive oil or almond oil. The oil will provide natural moisturizers for the wood and add shine at the same time. Don’t use these oils on exterior surfaces, however, since they don’t hold up in direct sun.
There are also many brands out there supplying the demand for eco-friendly marine products. Look out for Aurora Marine, Eco Works Marine, Dumond Chemicals, Bioneat, Kemeco, and BlueFin Marine products. This makes switching from harsh chemical-laden products to eco-friendly products simply a matter of low hanging fruit – you’ll feel better and the earth will love you for it!
To get involved in reducing your environmental impact in other easy ways, here’s some tips to regularly follow.
Keep a Supply of Oil-Absorbent Rags on Board
Even small spills of oil can contaminate a large volume of water. Keeping a supply of these rags handy for cleaning up of oil and fuel will help keep more of these substances out of the water.
Properly Dispose of Used Oil and Filters
Facilities are available to handle these elements which are toxic to the marine environment. In the US call 1 800 CLEANUP for the nearest disposal facility.
Keep Used Solvents Separate from Used Oil
Never mix wastes, or pour toxic wastes down drains, on the ground or into surface waters.
Wax Your Boat
A good coat of wax on a fiberglass hull prevents surface dirt from becoming engrained. This will reduce the need for detergents when you wash your boat. Pollen, dust, spores, or salt occur naturally and will do no harm when they are washed into the water.
Boating is a luxury that some of us are able to afford, and it’s important to keep in mind that while the earth is our playground, it is also our responsibility to do our part in protecting it. Eco-friendly boat maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive! These super simple tips are easy for anyone to do and will leave you feeling a lot better about your days out enjoying the water!