More than 10 million tons of plastic enter the oceans each year, devastating marine life and seabirds and breaking down into microplastics that produce a range of chemicals that further pollute the water. Household runoff also poses a problem for both fresh and saltwater sources, adding fertilizer, oil, pesticides, bacteria, and other pollutants.
If you have a boat, it’s safe to say you love the water… but how can you do your part to keep it clean? Here are some tips to green your life – both on and off the water.
Always Watch Your Waste
Everything that goes down the drain winds up in your local lake. This means you need to be mindful of what is going down your house drains, as well as the runoff heading into the outdoor storm drains. Fertilizers “enrich” lakes and streams, causing algae blooms that are harmful to fish. Chemicals and medicinal waste add up, further polluting waterways.
Reducing your trash output by moving away from single-use plastics is a wonderful way to contribute to clean water in your area. You can also switch to greener cleaning supplies and change your lawn and garden design to reduce runoff. Simple steps like collecting your pet’s waste for proper disposal and aiming your rain gutter downspouts into the grass for filtering go a long way to help keep boating waters safe for everyone.
Keep Up with Proper Boat Maintenance
Fuel and other pollutants entering the water directly through boating are a large concern to clean waterways. It is imperative that boaters check engine lines and hoses regularly to identify small leaks that can lead to oil in the bilge. Oil pan gaskets and seals should be replaced anytime the engine is removed to lessen the potential for leaks.
When refueling, always use an oil absorbent fuel bib or collar to catch any spills. Boat tanks are often unpressurized and do not activate automatic shutoffs in the same way a car’s tank does. Because of this, the Coast Guard advises to fill takes to 90 percent capacity to allow for both heat expansion and proper shutoff, thus avoiding leaks.
If you have an onboard water system, take careful steps to ensure that your wastewater is released properly. Use on-shore facilities and install low-flow showerheads and nozzles to conserve water. It is also imperative that you choose biodegradable, non-phosphate soaps, detergents, and cleaners for anything that winds up in your grey water tank.
Don’t Overuse Resources
Studies on water quality and clarity have found that heavily trafficked waterways can show an increase in the growth of algae and kick up sediments, which obstruct sunlight and inhibit the clean water cycle. Always pay attention to signage and avoid areas that are off-limits or set aside for the protection of wildlife.
Switch to Greener Products
Chemicals that are often used to clean, protect, and run watercraft can easily leach into the water, causing a severe impact on the environment and weakening or killing wildlife. Remember, aquatic plant and animal health depends upon specific requirements for pH level, light, and temperature. Toxins from onboard chemicals such as detergents, petroleum products, batteries, and paints lessen native wildlife’s ability to survive and thrive.
Traditional household cleaning products are full of chemicals that can damage wildlife and the ecosystems they inhabit. Switch to biodegradable, phosphate-free alternatives that are stamped “EPA Design for Environment” to clean your boat. Scrub and rinse your boat with just a small amount of these cutting-edge cleaners between uses, and you will further lessen the need for abrasive chemicals and repeated cleaning.
Protect the waters you love so much by switching up your routines and learning more about your impact on the environment. Carolina Skiff is a proud sponsor of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, a North Central Florida nonprofit dedicated to reviving sea turtle populations and the protection of their natural habitats.