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The Green Blue project – minimising boating’s impact on the environment

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The Green Blue is the joint environment programme created by the Royal Yachting Association and British Marine for anyone who enjoys getting out on the water or whose livelihood depends on it. They recently launched the University Sailing Sustainability Challenge and we caught up with The Green Blue’s Kate Fortnam to talk about the project in more detail.

Tell us more about The Green Blue project?

The Green Blue – launched at the Southampton International Boat Show on 19th September 2005 – is an innovative environmental awareness set up to promote the sustainable use of coastal and inland waters by boating and watersports participants, as well as the sustainable operation and development of the recreational boating industry.

The Green Blue’s objective is to help boaters and boating businesses to minimise their impact on the environment by raising awareness amongst industry and users; reducing harmful discharges; reducing environmental disturbance; and encouraging sustainable choices.

Who/what was the driving force behind setting it up?

The Green Blue is the joint environmental initiative of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and British Marine. It recently celebrated 10 years of successfully helping boat users, boating businesses, sailing clubs and training centres reduce their impact on coastal and inland waters to keep them in great shape for now and the future.

With support from The Crown Estate’s Marine Stewardship Programme, the small Hamble-based team raises environmental awareness and identifies eco-friendly products to make boating in the UK as sustainable as possible.

How widely is it known and accepted in the UK sailing community?

If you take a look around most sailing clubs and marinas today, it’s clear that the boating sector has really taken to environmental change and the work of The Green Blue. You’ll find LED lighting along pontoons, smart meters, waste management facilities with different receptacles for every type of boat waste, solar panels visible on many marina office roofs and yacht decks, on board wind turbines, hybrid engines, inline bilge filters and even electric car charging points in marina car parks.

But there is still more work to be done to protect the future sustainability of our marine ecosystem. By working towards an environmentally self-regulating boating community, The Green Blue aims to make efficiency savings, avoid red tape, help boaters and boating businesses minimise their impact on the environment, and safeguard the waters and habitats we enjoy and rely on for the future.

One assumes that sailing would be relatively sustainable, it’s wind powered, so what are the key sustainability issues for the sport?

As more and more people take to the water we risk damaging the natural environment. Whether it’s our coastal waters or inland lakes, rivers and canals, our waterways are getting more crowded and with numbers come problems. And it’s not just wind-powered boats that are out there! The Green Blue offers advice to participants of dinghy and yacht racing, motor and sail cruising, RIBs and sportsboats, powerboat racing, windsurfing, inland cruising and personal watercraft (jet-skis).

Nobody wants red tape and regulations so The Green Blue works hard to avoid this by encouraging people to voluntarily change their habits and become more environmentally friendly every time they go boating. Here’s just a snapshot of some of the environmental issues that boaters face:-

Antifoul and Invasive Species: Whilst antifouling does a great job of keeping our hulls clean, and even has some environmental benefits such as improving fuel efficiency and preventing the spread of invasive non-native species, it is toxic to aquatic life. Since the banning of TBT in 1987, most antifouls are now copper or zinc based. Some of the compounds found in these antifouls can accumulate in marine organisms, and can find their way into marine wildlife further up the food chain.

Cleaning and Maintenance: When boats are cleaned, the cleaning products can end up in the water. Products used on boat hulls and decks often contain chlorine, ammonia, potassium hydroxide and solvents, all potentially harmful to the aquatic environment. Detergents containing phosphates (such as washing-up liquids and laundry detergents) can lead to nutrient enrichment causing algal blooms and oxygen depletion, causing localised suffocation of aquatic life.

Oil and Fuel: The fuel and oil used by recreational craft is lighter than crude oil and although these lighter fuels do not have the catastrophic effect of smothering marine life, they are toxic to fish and many other water species. Prolonged exposure can affect reproduction, growth and feeding, even in low concentrations. These toxins can build up in the food chain and eventually find their way into us.

Sewage and Waste: Untreated sewage from boats can spread gastroenteritis; contaminate shell fish beds and mussel ropes and use up vital oxygen in the water. Human waste also contains phosphorous and nitrogen which increase the levels of algae and reduce water clarity. Chemicals such as chlorine, formaldehyde, ammonium and zinc compounds used as disinfectants, breakdown and deodorise waste are toxic to marine life.

Wildlife: Examples of possible disturbance is engine noise interfering with the acoustic communications of whales and dolphins, affecting the way they hunt for prey. Speeding vessels can affect the reproductive cycles of fish and excess wash can cause bank erosion and the loss of habitats

What was the thinking behind creating a university challenge?

At the British Association for Sustainable Sport conference in 2014, The Green Blue had an opportunity to meet with Nick Roberts and learn about the Global Athletes programme which encourages students to embrace sustainability challenges in their everyday lives at university.

The Green Blue saw this as a great model to extend to university sailing clubs by challenging students to improve environmental sustainability within their sailing teams and clubs. Students love a challenge, so The Green Blue created a three tiered competition with a prize draw incentive and invited university clubs to sign up. The response has been brilliant and The Green Blue is very excited to have such an energetic and committed group of students on board helping to promote sustainable boating.

How many university sailing clubs are there?

There are 46 university sailing clubs.

What do you need to happen for the challenge to be a success (how can readers help)?

Lots of encouragement! Follow the teams on Facebook and Twitter (@thegreenblue) and if you are a member of a sailing club that hosts a university sailing team, look out for them and support what they are trying to put in place at the club.

Readers can also meet the team and find out more about The Green Blue’s incredible journey at www.thegreenblue.org.uk or to find out more about sustainable boating call 023 8060 4273.

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Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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Environment

Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism

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When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.

After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.

How was it started?

It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.

How to go about it?

So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.

If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.

What can be learned?

Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .

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