How to sail sustainably

Discover what can and is being done to raise awareness about sustainability and find out how you can make small changes in your everyday life to help the environment.

Sailing is one of the most eco-friendly sports out there. It is powered by wind, which means that it does not rely on fossil fuels, and therefore produces no emissions. This makes it a great way to travel and explore without leaving a negative impact on the environment. Sailing also promotes respect for nature and encourages individuals to be mindful of their impact on the environment, which can translate into sustainable choices both on and off the boat. But we need to talk about how to be environmentally conscious and sustainable.

Being sustainable means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It involves using resources responsibly and minimizing the impact of our actions on the environment. Sustainability is about finding a balance between economic growth, social well-being, and environmental protection. It is a holistic approach that takes into account the interconnectedness of these factors and aims to create a world that is healthy, equitable, and prosperous for all.

YACHTING.COM TIP: There is even more you can do to be sustainable. See 11 full tips on how to be an eco-friendly sailor.

Sustainability and sailing are closely related because sailing is one of the most eco-friendly sports out there. Sailboats are powered by wind, which means that you can go days without turning on your engines. Also, sailing has always been associated with respect for nature, and in the absence of engines, it is one of the most sustainable sports in existence. As sailors, we have a responsibility to protect the environment that we enjoy so much, and by adopting sustainable practices, we can minimize our impact on the environment and contribute to the preservation of the ocean and its wildlife.

Use less plastic

Before anything else, and most urgently, we must lessen our social addiction to plastic. The use of plastic poses a serious threat to the marine environment. Plastic waste not only pollutes the oceans but also harms marine life. Plastic bags and other plastic debris are often mistaken for food by marine animals, which can result in choking or even death. Additionally, plastic particles absorb toxins, which can accumulate in the food chain and ultimately end up in our own bodies. Therefore, reducing plastic waste is crucial to preserving the marine environment. 

Plastic bottles on the beach of a remote tropical island and sailboat anchorage.

This does not spark joy.

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What to do about plastic when sailing

While it is almost impossible to avoid using plastic completely, there are steps that sailors can take to minimize their plastic usage. Bringing your own reusable bags, using recyclable or reusable alternatives, and properly recycling any plastic you do use are all ways to reduce your impact. By making small changes, sailors can help protect the marine environment and ensure that it is sustained for generations to come.

Important tips to be a more sustainable sailor

1. Use eco-friendly cleaning products: Use non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning products to clean your boat and avoid polluting the water with harmful chemicals.

2. Use energy-efficient lighting: Install LED lighting on your boat to reduce energy consumption and make sure to turn off lights when you're not using them.

3. Use sustainable materials: Choose environmentally-friendly materials like cork, bamboo, or hemp for boat maintenance and repairs.

4. Practice catch and release: If you're fishing, practice catch and release to minimize your impact on local fish populations.

5. Reduce water usage: Use water sparingly by fixing leaks, taking shorter showers, and using a bucket instead of a hose to wash your boat.

6. Use reusable dishware and utensils: Bring reusable plates, cups, and utensils on your sailing trip to minimize waste.

7. Avoid disposable products: Avoid single-use products like paper towels, disposable razors, and coffee pods.

8. Participate in beach cleanups: Take part in beach cleanups to remove litter and plastics from the ocean and help keep our seas clean.

General tips for everyday sustainability

It's not just about sailing, though. If we are going to discuss sustainability, we believe general everyday tips and solutions need to be mentioned as well, so here comes:

Activist taking care of environment, sorting paper waste to proper recycling bin on terrace

Let's be sustainable and conscious every day, not just "when we remember to"

1. Reduce your energy consumption: Turn off lights and electronics when you're not using them, unplug chargers, and use energy-efficient light bulbs.

2. Use public transportation, bike or walk: Reduce your carbon footprint by using public transportation or choose to bike or walk to your destination.

3. Reduce water waste: Fix any leaks in your home, take shorter showers, and turn off the water while brushing your teeth.

4. Reduce meat consumption: Reducing the amount of meat in your diet can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Consider having one or two meat-free days per week or switch to plant-based options.

5. Shop secondhand: Shopping secondhand helps reduce waste by giving old items new life. Consider buying clothes, furniture, and other household items from secondhand stores or online platforms.

6. Reduce single-use items: Bring your reusable bags, bottles, and containers when shopping, and avoid using single-use items like straws, plastic cutlery, and coffee cups.

7. Support sustainable brands: Look for brands that prioritize sustainability and use eco-friendly materials and production methods.

So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our range of charter boats and head to some of our favourite sailing destinations.

We'd love to help you choose the most eco-friendly sailing option and route. Just let us know.