Most people today are concerned about proper respect for and care of the environment. While this often shows up in debates over climate change and the ways to combat it, everyone should be interested in taking proper care of our world.
Of course, given that it’s summertime, which means boat excursions for lots of people, some of us might find particular interest in how to enjoy sailing and the open waves in ways that will not harm fragile marine ecosystems.
Thankfully, there are all sorts of information online about what we might call “eco-friendly boating.” Here are ten ways to make your next boat trip both fun and environmentally conscious.
Eco Tip #1: Avoid gas and oil spills
Avoiding spillage or leakage of oil and gas is perhaps the most important way for boating to be environmentally friendly. Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences says that as much as 85% of the oil that enters North American waters is due to human negligence or activity—including the spillage and emissions from vehicles like boats.
Oil spills can be extremely difficult to clean up and can be extremely dangerous for the environment and marine life. Making sure you're fueling is safe for the environment can
be simplified with these tips:
- Always fuel your boat at the dock, never while in the water.
- Do not top off your gas tank; engine heat causes the gasoline to expand and will create overflow, which will then leak into the water.
- Use oil-absorbent rags, mats, or other items to safely catch any oil that may leak onto the boat’s floor. (They must be disposed of in a hazardous waste facility at the marina when they are fully saturated.)
- Know how much gasoline your tank can hold to avoid overfilling it.
- Watch for any cracks, fissures, or other openings that may cause leaks. Repair them before your trip.
- Jerrycans (portable oil cans taken onto the boat) are permitted, but must meet certain regulations to avoid spilling. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates approximately 70,000 gallons of fuel are spilled by jerrycans accidentally each year.
Any oil, petroleum, or gasoline that leaves a sheen on the water must be reported immediately, whether you spilled it or simply discovered it (or saw someone else do it).
The U.S. Coast Guard has set up a hotline that can deal with spills safely and effectively. Do not attempt to clean the spill yourself (and do not make it worse by diluting it with detergent or other chemicals, which only causes the oil to sink and cause more damage); call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802. They will be able to help.
Proper avoidance of gas and oil spills is the first step to a safe and enjoyable use of your boat.
Find out more about how to safely fuel a boat (including a video) here.
Eco Tip #2: Properly dispose of sewage