When it comes to environmental conservation, everyone should do their part. Being an environmentally responsible boater begins with how you boat and the products you use on your boat. All of the things boat owners do, no matter how small they may seem, can impact the water and its marine life in a positive or negative way. Practicing eco-friendly boating and “going green” can make the experience more environmentally sustainable and enjoyable for all.
We at Econo Lift encourage all boaters to leave the water in better condition than how they found it. Our boat lifts for speedboats, pontoons, fishing boats, and waverunners make maintaining your watercraft easy and give you peace of mind. With one less thing to worry about, you can focus on what’s important: enjoying your time on the water and making sure you’re doing your part to keep the environment clean. Contact us to learn more about our boat lifts!
Eco-Friendly Boat Bottom Paint and Cleaners
Your boat’s bottom comes into contact with thousands of organisms and creatures with each trip. It’s important to protect your boat from wear — but keep in mind that everything below your boat’s waterline is part of the marine ecosystem, so the chemicals you choose do matter!
In the past, and even still to this day, high levels of copper oxide are commonly used in bottom paints. Copper may effectively prevent organisms like barnacles and others from growing on your boat, but copper can leach into the marine environment and handicap or even kill many organisms.
Scrubbing and spraying your boat while cleaning can create runoff, chemical clouds, and other interactions with the environment that can be very harmful and destructive. Instead of traditional household cleaning products that can damage fish tissues, create nutrient imbalances that lead to algae blooms, etc., opt for eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products.
- Choose non-biocide bottom paints that do not contain metals like copper or zinc.
- It’s best to use an alternative paint that has been endorsed by the EPA.
- When the hull is painted with eco-friendly bottom paint, you are more likely to continue to prevent marine growth and the hull drag that increases fuel consumption.
- Most boats can be cleaned with a stiff brush and a hose full of fresh water.
- For a more thorough clean, many brands offer green cleaning products.
- The EPA has created the Safer Choice label to identify products that have been rigorously tested.
- Save boat cleaning for the boatyard and not while on the water unless you’re using environmentally safe products.
Easy Trash Management While Boating
From fish and other aquatic animals getting caught in six-pack holders or plastic bags, to a cigarette butt looking like food and leading to suffocation or starvation — everything that gets thrown into the water has an impact on the marine world.
Plastic is especially detrimental to aquatic life because it never completely degrades, it only breaks down into smaller pieces that adversely affect the animals and plant life underwater. Along with harming the environment, trash is a hazard to your boat, as well. It can clog your engine intake, wrap around props, and lead to costly repairs.
Simply put, never, EVER throw your trash overboard. The most effective boating trash management stems from proper preparedness.
- Reduce the amount of waste on board by removing packaging at home.
- Opt for reusable containers instead of disposable Ziploc bags to lessen your carbon footprint.
- Keep any garbage you do make out of the water by having a designated trash container.
- Use liners for trash containers so you can just carry the liner to the proper trash receptacle without having to drag the container back aboard.
- Ensure trash containers are properly stored so there is no chance of it being blown overboard.
- Educate your boat guests and ensure they know what to do with trash while on board.
How To Properly Handle Boat Waste
It is illegal to dump raw, untreated sewage in any body of water that is within three miles of the shore or inland waters like lakes, rivers, and ponds.
You typically have three ways to deal with human waste on a boat:
- Use a toilet with a marine sanitation device (MSD). They are toilets attached to a holding tank.
- Use a portable toilet. They are generally made of three compartments: the bowl, the freshwater tank, and the waste container.
- Use a composting toilet. They don’t use a holding tank or have to be pumped out so they can be an easy alternative method.
If your boat has a holding tank, you must learn how to use a pumpout station. It only takes a few minutes to pump the waste out of a 15-gallon holding tank. Different machines will vary slightly, so be sure to read and follow all posted directions carefully! If instructions aren’t posted or aren’t clear, ask the marina operator and encourage them to post easy-to-understand instructions. A small mistake can lead to a big mess — so take your time!
Some marinas have a separate dumping station just for portable toilets while others use their standard pumpout machinery with a different hose attachment for portables. If you can’t find an onshore dumping station, you can take the waste container home and dispose of the waste down your toilet. If your home is connected to a septic system, remember to dilute it.
- Know the location of the closest pumpout station.
- Make regular pumpouts to ensure that your holding tank always has room when you need it.
- Use rapid dissolving marine toilet paper specifically designed to help prevent clogs.
In general, here’s how a pumpout station works:
- Remove the cap from boat’s deck waste fitting.
- Insert the pumpout hose nozzle into deck fitting (You may need an adapter to make it fit. Marinas typically have them available or they are also for sale in boat stores.).
- Turn the pump on. If there is a hose valve, open it to start the suction.
- When there is no waste seen in the sight glass, close the hose valve and remove the nozzle from the deck fitting.
- Put the nozzle (with the open valve) in a bucket of water for 15 seconds to rinse the hose. If desired, rinse boat’s holding tank with water and pump dry.
- Close the valve and put the hose away.
- Turn off the pump and replace the deck fitting cap.
- Don’t forget to wash your hands when you are done.
Ways to Prevent Boat Fuel and Oil Spills
Do NOT top off. When topping off at the tank with a car, the pumps have reliable automatic shut-offs. In the boating world, however, fuel pumps are often old and have faulty automatic shut-offs. Fill the fuel tank slowly and keep an ear out for the tone change that occurs as the tank starts to get full.
The boat’s engine heat causes the gasoline to expand, so the Coast Guard advises filling tanks to 90-percent capacity. If it is filled too high, the expansion will create overflow, which will then leak into the water.
- Always fuel your boat at the dock, never while in the water.
- Know how much gasoline your tank can hold to avoid overfilling it.
- Always use an oil absorbent fuel bib or collar when filling up to catch spills.
- Don’t top off your gas tank.
- Use oil-absorbent rags, mats, or other items to safely catch any oil that may leak onto the boat’s floor. Then properly dispose of them in a hazardous waste facility at the marina.
- Keep your engine well-tuned to prevent fuel and oil leaks.
- Watch for any cracks or other openings that may cause leaks, and repair them before your trip.
- Try to save maintenance projects for the boatyard and not while on the water.
- When performing work on the water, contain waste. Use tarps and vacuum sanders to collect all drips and debris for proper disposal.
Power Boat Lifts
Econo Lift provides easy-to-use boat lifts that are perfect for every boat or personal watercraft and dock! Our team can help you decide which is the right lift for you. Contact Econo Lift to ensure your watercraft is properly stored and protected from the elements.