How to Boat Green

Boating usually brings thoughts of blue skies and water but nowadays, many boaters are starting to think green— that is, environmentally friendly.


You might have heard of green houses and green cars, so it’s also logical to consider that the next step are green boats! Here are some tips on how to get started "boating green" today.

Steps

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    Prevent oily discharges from the bilge. Keep your engine well tuned to prevent fuel and oil leaks. Place an oil absorbent pad in your bilge and under your engine where drips may occur. Check the pads often; don’t let them clog the bilge pump, and dispose of them as hazardous waste at a marina or local hazardous waste collection center.
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    Spill-proof your oil changes by using an oil change pump to transfer oil to a spill-proof container. Wrap a plastic bag or absorbent pad around the oil filter to stop oil from spilling into the bilge.
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    When fueling, prevent fuel spills by filling fuel tanks slowly and catching drips and spills with absorbent pads or rags. Don’t "top off" or overflow your fuel tank. Leave the tank ten percent empty to allow fuel to expand as it warms.
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    Do not add soap. Never use soap to disperse fuel and oil spills. It’s illegal and it increases harm to the environment.
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    Save boat cleaning and maintenance projects for the boatyard whenever possible. If you must work on the water, minimize your impact by containing waste. Use tarps and vacuum sanders to collect all drips and debris for proper disposal.
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    Reduce toxic discharges from bottom paints by using a less toxic, or nontoxic anti- fouling paint. Use non-abrasive underwater hull cleaning techniques to prevent excessive paint discharge. Remember, dry storage reduces the need for antifouling paints and saves money.
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    Dispose of hazardous waste at a hazardous waste collection facility or event. This includes paints, batteries, antifreeze, cleaning products, oil and oil filters.
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    Plan ahead. Manage sewage wastes properly. Never discharge sewage within 3 miles (4.8 km) of shore. Use harbor pump-out stations and shore-side facilities. If you don’t have an installed toilet, use a port-a-potty and empty it at a harbor dump station or bathroom.
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    Keep your trash on board. Never throw cigarette butts, fishing line, or any other garbage into the ocean. Recycle plastic, glass, metal, and paper at shore-side facilities.
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    Reduce grey water pollution and its impact on the marine environment by using a phosphate-free biodegradable soap. Do dishes and showers on shore whenever possible. (Grey water is the soapy water used in boat maintenance.)
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    Sail. Wind is a freely renewable and sustainable resource.

Warnings

  • Make sure to properly dispose of any gas or oil soaked rags or pads as they will be highly flammable
  • Always consult your owner’s manual for maintenance instructions specific to your boat model before performing any maintenance on your boat

Sources and Citations

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