Welcome to the racing edition in a series of articles with tips to help sailors make simple adjustments to make sailing practices more sustainable. When it comes to environmental impact, even the smallest pieces of the puzzle affect the big picture. We’re not sure who coined it first, but it is said that we will make the biggest difference not by a few doing large things, but by many doing small things. We're all familiar with habits like using refillable water bottles, picking up litter, and reducing energy consumption when possible. But there's always a little more we can all do to pitch in. Quantum's Director of Sustainability, Lara Poljšak, has some tips for making your time on the blue a little more green.
Whether you're headed out for weeknight racing or for an offshore distance race, inevitably, you or your crew will generate some refuse. When you’re planning, be conscious of what you're bringing aboard. Choose recycled, plastic-free, or reduced packaging whenever possible — for example, grab a shareable big bag of chips rather than single-serving bags.
Regarding racing materials, go paperless or use recycled paper as often as possible. Consider using a tablet or other device on board to keep track of tuning guides and race courses. Of course, always have a paper chart aboard! Bonus points if you request your local regatta or club to offer race materials in digital formats.
If you have a large enough crew, designate someone to make sure trash and recycling are properly sorted and stored and taken off the boat at the end of the day or trip. When you're underway, designate a spot in the cockpit or near the companionway for trash and recycling so that things don't fall overboard or get shoved into cubbies and forgotten about.
GREEN SAILING IN ACTION: A club racer shared with us that they set up a competition in their fleet. After each race, they weigh the trash from each boat with a fish scale — whichever team has the heaviest haul buys the first round at the bar.
We understand the convenience of a flat of disposable water bottles, but with a few simple changes, you can save money, weight, and materials. A 24-bottle flat of disposable water bottles weighs about 25 pounds and comes out to approximately three gallons of water. Alternatively, three one-gallon jugs, which are refillable, weigh 24 pounds — saving you a pound of weight aboard. Increase the number of flats, and you're seeing major poundage added. If you can find larger containers, you'll save even more weight by eliminating extra packaging. And, each time you refill the jugs, you'll also save money.
GREEN SAILING IN ACTION: A PHRF racing team invested in a collapsible water jug for longer events or team cruises. For their weekly races, they said they were fine with just their own refillable bottles, but this jug was a life saver when they needed it.
Reusable water bottles, especially if they look different from each other or are clearly labeled, will also reduce the number of fallen soldiers: half-empty bottles that get dumped out and tossed because no one remembers who they belong to.
Consider installing a water filtration system or filling reusable water bottles from the galley sink if you have a larger boat. Quantum Racing uses an on-board filtration unit to fill their reusable water bottles between races — and keeps a smaller refillable container on board for midday refills, too.
GREEN SAILING IN ACTION: A sailor explained to us how they worked with their yacht club to have water dispensers ready before each Wednesday night race so folks could easily fill up their bottles on their way out to the water. It helped ease traffic at the bar and made it a no-brainer for the non-believers. It wasn’t anything fancy or high-tech, simply a larger Igloo dispenser like you see at your family potluck.
Food and Food Waste
Your crew's gotta eat! But, to cut down on wasted food, make a list for the crew before going to the store — and, if they're game, have them contribute so you're not buying food no one wants to eat that will end up in the trash. At the end of the day, if you have unopened food that would otherwise be wasted, consider a local organization that will accept those packages rather than tossing them in the trash — and note, for next time, what didn't get consumed.
GREEN SAILING IN ACTION: Another idea from a club racer, they set up a non-perishable donation box inside the club for the high school sailing team. The students are always hungry for snacks or drinks before practice and the easy-to-access box made it a light lift for them to keep their extras out of the trash.
Finally, avoid throwing uneaten food overboard. While an apple core is biodegradable, these foreign foods can cause issues for wildlife and, over time, create imbalances in the water that can lead to algae blooms and other harmful events. Instead, throw it out or designate a bucket or bag with compostable food scraps — compost at home or bring it to a local farm or gardener. They'll be grateful!
GREEN SAILING IN ACTION: A sailor from Michigan explained that they have a 10 cent deposit on cans and bottles in the state. They put a special bin out after races for people to add their empties to. At 10 cents per can, the refund adds up fast! The teams take turns taking the cans in and the refund gets donated to the local youth sailing program. Knowing they’re doing good with their recycling helps keep their cans out of the trash, not to mention out of the water.
Knowledge is power! Yacht clubs and sailing organizations are almost always looking for ways to engage with their members and provide added value. Think about setting up some workshops and presentations throughout the year — invite a local marine mechanic to give a talk about basic motor care to help keep fuel and oils out of the water, have your local Quantum loft representative come by for a rundown on sail care and maintenance, or have a local recycling program do a presentation on how to best dispose of materials. Some clubs have put together a “green team,” a group of people dedicated to helping organizations make some of these small but mighty changes.
What are you doing to “Go Green. Sail Green”? Send us your stories for a chance to be featured on our social media and in upcoming content!