20 High-Impact Ways to Make Sailing Sustainable


Single use plastics are a major concern for our oceans, they’re only used for seconds or minutes and last for 500+ years. A big problem with plastics is they breakdown into smaller plastic pieces which has a huge impact on marine life. In the Pacific Gyre it’s thought that plastic particles greatly outnumber phytoplankton (marine algae) So here are some steps to hugely reduce the impact of single use plastics.

1. Eliminate Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles and Provide Water Refill Stations
 Plastic water bottles also leach chemicals into the water you drink, so a sustainable option for sailing are Stainless Steel

2. Eliminate Plastic Straws
 Skip them altogether or find an eco friendly alternative. We’ve seen paper, glass or metal if you really need a straw 🙂

3. Serve Food with Plastic-Free Dinnerware
 Plasticware lasts forever for one dinner use, so use real silverware – Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia Canada does this at all their restaurants, the environment there really shows it, it’s the cleanest most beautiful place I’ve been!

4. Use or Provide Reusable Bags
 Plastic bags are one of the worst offenders. Instead offer re-useable bags or bags made from recycled material, preferably sail material since they’re awesome and they last. You can even make your own!

5. Award Gear or Use a Perpetual or Upcycled Trophy
 A piece of plastic is no where’s near as cool as awarding winners and participants with sailing gear or things they’ll use. Some cool prizes I’ve received and love – a recycled sail bag, an engraved wood cutting board, an engraved wood platter, coasters, hats, buffs, shirts. Another great way to award winners is with a perpetual trophy – get a cool silver trophy that will last 100 years and not wind up in the ocean. Lastly an excellent award is also to donate prize money to a cause such as ocean sustainability!


6. Publicize Your Sustainability Efforts
 Share what you’re doing to make sailing a sustainable sport, let’s make sailing sustainable together!

7. Involve Local Organizations
 Use strengths already present in your community to help make sailing and watersports sustainable

8. Post Responsible, Educational and Reusable Signage
 Sometimes people just need to be reminded or directed, most people want to do the right thing so make it easy for them to do so, reduce the friction involved in being green and people will naturally adopt sustainable practices

9. Serve Local Food or Source Seafood Sustainably
 Back up your words with actions: support local businesses who’ve adopted sustainable practices and make sure your seafood is sustainably caught and wild caught to reduce the impact of commercial fishing.


10. Assemble and Identify Your Green Team
 Putting together a team will make it exponentially easier to implement sustainable practices

11. Ensure Proper Waste Bin Placement and Signage
 Recycle any waste that can be recycled and clearly place signs as to which is recycling and which is waste, recycling can become waste if mixed with trash.

12. Divert Food Waste from the Landfill
 Take your leftover food to your local homeless shelter or food bank, there are people who are starving so keep waste out of the landfill and do a good deed on top of it. It’s easy and they are always grateful for a good meal.

13. Use Paperless Event Management
 From whiteboards, to projectors, to TVs and phones, there are a great deal of easy sustainable ways to distribute information.

14. Host a Beach or Marina Clean-up
 Increase awareness of the plastic pollution problem and do your part to make an immediate impact on your local environment. Cedar Point Yacht Club does this every spring, if you haven’t done this before you’ll probably be surprised by the amount of trash that washes up on shore, seeing this along will inspire more people to get involved and educate people as to why plastic is a problem.

15. Promote Alternative Transportation
 Biking, carpooling, using public transit, or offsetting your carbon footprint can all go a long way to reducing carbon emissions. Biking or walking from the train station will also serve as a great warmup exercise for sailing, warm muscles are less prone to injury and it’s even better than stretching when you’re muscles are cold. Chances are you’ll sail better with an active light warmup. At Cedar Point we’re close to the train station so this is absolutely feasible especially for those coming from NYC.

16. Increase Awareness of Wildlife and Habitat Protection
 Part of protecting what you love involves safeguarding those who call our waters home! Pollution affects sea life which in turn affects mammals including us! Educate yourself and others so they’re aware of the impact pollution has.

17. Offer Vegetarian or Vegan Alternatives
 Eating vegetarian can reduce your carbon footprint and impact on the environment by more than you may think. There’s also substantial evidence that a vegetarian diet may slow the aging process, reduce the chances of cancer and heart disease, help maintain a healthy weight and provide more energy than the Standard American Diet. Even just reducing the amount of meat consumed has a huge impact on the environment and on your own personal health.

18. Encourage Water Only Wash downs
 Skip the suds or substitute environmentally friendly alternatives

19. Use Non-Toxic Sunscreens or Cleaning Products
 There are two types of sun protection, sunblock and sunscreen. Sunscreen is comprised of chemicals which are absorbed through your skin into your blood and even internal organs, it can have effects on your endocrine system and overall health. Sunblock is a physical sunblock which is typically Zinc or Titanium dioxide – These are minerals which stay on top of your skin, they’re environmentally safe and safe for use. Sunblock also includes clothing which has these types of minerals embedded. Help educate others and let’s keep harmful chemicals out of the water by eliminating the use of chemical sunscreens.

20. Recycle or re-use broken parts and worn out sails
 Sailing masts and spars are under stress while we’re sailing, so occasionally parts break. Metals can be recycled and who knows maybe you can turn that broken upper mast into something cool. Ripped sails can be repaired and worn out sails can be made into awesome re-useable bags and all kinds of stuff, it’s a fun project or you can donate the material to a place that makes sail bags and often they’ll give you a free bag 🙂