Outdoors, on the water, in the fresh air – we love marine activities. Simple steps will help you keep on the right side of the environment, to green up your watersports habit this summer.
CHOOSE BIO-FRIENDLY SUN SCREEN
It was established in the early 2000s that the chemicals in some sun screens are harmful to coral reefs. Further research indicates that protective sun creams can also damage other marine organisms including wildlife.
Oxybenzone and octinoxate are among the culprits, and sunscreen containing these chemicals is banned in certain sensitive marine environments and resorts. Check the ingredients in your sun cream: choose marine-friendly and biodegradable formulations.
Fresh water in lakes and rivers also suffer pollution by sunscreen, scientists now believe. Harmful side effects include the water surface ‘sun cream slick’ that can prevent aquatic insects from laying eggs, thus depriving other river and lake dwellers of food supply.
Chemicals in sunscreen can harm fish, mussels and algae too. Research continues, but in the meantime, opt for eco sun protection when you swim, surf, paddleboard – whatever your watersports habit.
LEAVE NO TRACE
Most of us are aware of the need to leave only footprints – but how about going one better, and heading home from the beach / riverbank / lakeside with MORE than you brought by doing a quick litter pick every trip?
Take a 10-minute walk up and down the waterside between paddleboard outings and gather whatever bits of rubbish or general manmade debris you find. Stick them in a bag and put them in the bin / recycling when you get home.
Look out for local clean-up initiatives while you are water-side and do your bit. Plastic Free North Devon, for example, runs a series of green action days to deal with the rubbish that is clogging our shores.
Surfers Against Sewage provides advice on organising a beach clean as well as listings for local beach clean up activities.
PASS IT ON
Look for secondhand watersports equipment before you buy new – and sell on any pre-loved outdoor activity items you no longer need.
For example, watersports kit like boogie or body boards, essentially a sheet of polystyrene wrapped in a thin layer of nylon decorated with a cartoon character or similar, are cheap to buy but an eco nightmare. Surfer Today calls them ‘a silent environmental disaster’.
Rather than buying a cheap single use board, bucket or spade for the kids that won’t even last the weekend, invest in quality equipment that you can use repeatedly, then pass it on to another family member or sell on via WhoSki.com.
Reducing consumption is key to reducing your carbon footprint, reducing air miles and preserving valuable resources.
RENT BEFORE YOU BUY
Not sure whether paddleboarding is really for you? Think you’ll only go surfing once a year? Maybe you don’t need to clutter up your shed / loft / garage with a large piece of watersports or outdoor activity equipment you’ll barely use.
However cheap it is to buy, it is much less costly to the environment to hire or rent your watersports gear where possible. Stuff like wetsuits, kayaks and canoes requires a lot in the way of (often unrecyclable) raw materials to create, and most are used very little.
Green up your watersports habit. Try hiring on the spot from local providers and check their eco credentials. Or take a look at our circular economy friends KitUp who are building a UK-wide network of outdoors equipment owners willing to rent out their equipment on demand.
Why new neoprene is a no-no: what happens to our unwanted wetsuits