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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

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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