How Can I Make My Boat More Environmentally Friendly?

How Can I Make My Boat More Environmentally Friendly?

Written by Diane Byrne
April 20, 2023

Last Updated on April 20, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

It’s on all of us to do our part to keep the waters we treasure healthy, but it’s on Boatsetter to help its Owners and Renters help propel the Clean Boating Act onward. We make sure to provide our community with everything from insights to volunteer opportunities to become environmentally conscious boaters. That said, here are seven steps we came up with that’ll help make your boat more environmentally friendly:

  1. Take care when topping tanks
  2. Buy eco-friendly cleaning products
  3. Limit your washdowns
  4. Don’t dump black or grey water
  5. Recycle fluids
  6. Slow down
  7. Consider going electric

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1. Take care when topping your tanks

Fueling Boat.

You may have heard this tip a dozen times, if not more. It bears repeating because every year, fuel and oil enter waterways around the country continuing to cause damage. Even a small amount can harm fish, sea birds, and other wildlife.

If you visit a fuel dock and some fuel accidentally spills overboard, have absorbent pads on hand to clean it up quickly. If you use portable tanks, fill them onshore or at a fuel dock, where the stable ground will go a long way toward avoiding issues.

2. Buy eco-friendly cleaning products

Cleaning a boat.

Thankfully, many boat-cleaning products avoid bleach, phosphorous, and other harmful ingredients. Look for ones where the labels clearly state they’re non-toxic. Chemicals contribute to algal blooms, which lead to fish kills and difficulty breathing for humans.

3. Limit your washdowns

Hosing Off Boat.

To make your boat more environmentally friendly, hose off the topsides when you return to the dock. You don’t need to scrub salt or other particles off. Similarly, you don’t need to clean the hull. If the hull starts looking slimy or needs attention, avoid cleaning it in the water if it has ablative paint.

The rubbing and scrubbing will release the paint and the biocides it contains. Also, low-pressure washing (using a pressure washer) can clean it. Better yet, have a marina or haul-out yard with dedicated concrete slabs for cleaning to do the work for you. They should also have filters for catching the water and allowing it to be reused.

4. Don’t dump black water or grey water

Black Water Tank.

Blackwater (a.k.a. sewage) and grey water never go overboard. Dumping untreated sewage throughout the United States and even in Canadian waters is illegal. Instead, use a proper pump-out station at a marina. It doesn’t matter that your marine septic system may allow using disinfectants, either. Those products can contain harmful chemicals.

5. Recycle fluids

Marina Recycling.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to maintenance, congratulations! Just make sure the used oil goes into a drain pain. Take it to a marina that recycles fluids—a quick call to the main office will let you know. The same marina should take your used oil filters, too.

6. Slow down

Slow, No Wake.

One of the best and easiest ways to make your boat more environmentally friendly is to ease up on the throttles. Firstly, you’ll consume less fuel (and make your wallet happier). Secondly, wave action damages sensitive sea grasses, which protect shorelines against erosion. Seagrass further is a favorite food of manatees, turtles, tarpon, and other creatures. It also takes a long time to grow back if damaged or destroyed.

7. Consider going electric

Charging Station for Boats.

More engine manufacturers and boat builders are offering all-electric or hybrid propulsion. Certainly, batteries contain acid and therefore aren’t “green.” However, current technology can help you reduce reliance on fossil fuels and eliminate emissions.

READ MORE: 8 Ways to Be an Eco-Conscious Boater

We all know about avoiding single-use plastics, keeping garbage contained, and practicing a host of other ecologically related measures. Still, there’s more we can do to ensure that our boats themselves are smarter stewards. Put these steps into practice to make your boat more environmentally friendly.

Recreational boating can be good for you and the planet. Check out more green boating resources and visit our Mind Your Wake page.

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