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15 Ways to Become a More Sustainable Sailor

We’ve seen the impacts of a changing climate and environmental issues firsthand. That’s why it’s so important to be environmental ambassadors at sea.

As sailors, we are closely connected to the natural world, often relying on the winds and tides to power our adventures. We’ve seen the impacts of a changing climate and environmental issues firsthand. That’s why it’s so important to us to be environmental ambassadors at sea.

sustainable sailing

Whether you are chartering a sailboat, joining one of our sailing trips or taking out your own vessel, we encourage you to do the same. By adopting a few simple habits and making conscious choices, you can play your part in being a responsible sailor.

Ways to Become a More Sustainable Sailor

These simple tips allow you to continue enjoying the beauty of the ocean while actively contributing to its conservation.

Choose Wind over Motor

Embrace the power of the wind and use the boat’s motor sparingly. Sail as much as possible, taking advantage of the wind to propel the vessel. Not only does this reduce your carbon footprint, but it also provides a more authentic sailing experience. By minimising the use of the motor, you rely on renewable energy and contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable maritime environment.

Embrace Paddle Power

One way to reduce our carbon footprint while sailing is to embrace paddle power. Instead of using a dinghy with an outboard engine to go onshore, consider alternatives such as rowing, kayaking, or using a standup paddleboard. These activities not only energise you and give you a closer connection to the water but also eliminate the noise and pollution associated with motorised transportation. Paddling to shore allows us to explore coastal areas quietly and experience the tranquillity of nature without disturbing marine life.

Use Biodegradable Products

When it comes to cleaning, personal care products, and sunscreen, opt for biodegradable options. Traditional cleaning products often contain harmful chemicals that can harm marine life and ecosystems. By choosing biodegradable alternatives, we can minimise our impact on the environment and ensure that the products we use break down naturally without leaving behind harmful residues.

biodegradable products

Look for eco-friendly cleaning products that are specifically designed for marine environments and choose a sunscreen that is labelled as “reef-safe” to protect coral reefs and other marine ecosystems.

Use Water Sparingly

Water is a precious resource, especially when sailing. Conserving water onboard is crucial for both sustainability and practicality. Take shorter showers, turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or doing the dishes, and be mindful of water usage in general. Additionally, avoid excessive flushing of toilets and use water-saving mechanisms if available. These small actions can significantly reduce water consumption during your sailing adventures. 

Bring Your Own Containers, Cups, and Bottles

Reducing single-use plastic waste is an essential part of sustainable sailing. When going shopping for groceries or supplies, bring your own containers and bags to avoid using unnecessary plastic packaging. Many stores and markets now offer the option to refill your own containers with items such as grains, nuts, and liquids like olive oil or vinegar.

Borrow or Buy Second Hand 

If you are travelling to climates different from your home region, consider borrowing or buying second hand instead of purchasing new garments that you will only use once or twice. This practice minimises waste and reduces the resources required for clothing production.

Avoid Plastic

Plastic pollution is a significant threat to the oceans and marine life. As a sustainable sailor, aim to avoid using plastic products whenever possible. Opt for reusable alternatives such as cloth bags, stainless steel or glass containers, and eco-friendly utensils.

avoid using plastic products

Choose products with minimal packaging, and when you do come across plastic waste during your sailing adventures, make sure to dispose of it properly and, if possible, recycle it.


Separate waste into different categories such as plastic, glass, paper, and metal onboard your vessel. When visiting ports, make use of recycling facilities to properly dispose of recyclable materials. By recycling, you reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills or pollutes the ocean, contributing to a more sustainable sailing experience. Educate yourself about local recycling regulations and guidelines to ensure the proper disposal of recyclables in each location you visit.

Leave Nothing Behind

When spending time onboard, always strive to leave nothing behind. Keep the decks clean and free of any trash or debris that can be blown overboard. Dispose of waste properly, following best practices for waste management on board. By maintaining a clean and clutter-free sailing environment, you contribute to the overall well-being of the oceans and set an example for others to follow. Encourage your crew members and fellow sailors and travellers to adopt the same practices and create a culture of sustainability within the sailing community.

Eat Local and In-Season

Supporting local food producers and consuming in-season produce is not only a sustainable practice but also a delightful way to explore the culinary offerings of the regions you sail through. Locally produced food reduces the carbon footprint associated with long-distance transportation, and in-season produce often requires less refrigeration and preservation methods. 

asian market

Seek out farmers’ markets, local fish markets, and small grocers to purchase fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Embrace the opportunity to savour the flavours of the local cuisine and reduce your impact on the environment.

Support the Locals

While sailing, make an effort to support local fishermen, grocers, and markets instead of relying solely on supermarkets. By buying directly from local producers, you not only contribute to the local economy but also minimise the carbon emissions associated with the distribution of goods. 

Engaging with the local community and learning about their traditions and practices can enhance your sailing experience and create meaningful connections, too! Consider visiting small coastal villages and patronising local businesses to support sustainable livelihoods in these areas.

Switch Off Lights

Conserving energy is essential for sustainable sailing. Whenever you are not using lights, air conditioning, or electronics, switch them off. Take advantage of natural lighting and ventilation to reduce your reliance on artificial sources. Bringing more energy efficient equipment like rechargeable LED lamps on your voyage can also contribute to lowering energy consumption on board. Try to avoid loose batteries as much as possible, as the production and disposal of batteries is not very environmentally friendly. 

Join Beach Cleanups

Beach cleanups are a fantastic way to give back to the environment and protect marine life. Many coastal areas are affected by plastic pollution and other debris, which can have devastating effects on the ecosystem. Look for local organisations or initiatives that organise beach cleanups and participate whenever possible. 

By removing waste from the coastline, you help preserve the beauty and integrity of the sea. These cleanups also raise awareness about the issue of marine pollution and inspire others to take action.

Respect Wildlife

Respecting marine wildlife is of utmost importance when sailing sustainably. Maintain a safe distance from animals and observe them without interfering with their natural behaviour. Avoid feeding wildlife, as it disrupts their natural diet and can have detrimental effects on their health. 

Remember, as sailors, we are guests in their habitat, and it is our responsibility to ensure their well-being and protection. Learn about the local wildlife and marine protected areas before you set sail to understand how to best interact with the animals you may encounter.

Consider the Whole Journey

Consider the sustainability of your entire journey, including how you get to and from the sailboat. Whenever possible, choose more sustainable means of transportation, such as trains or buses, instead of relying solely on planes or cars. Trains, in particular, have lower carbon emissions compared to other forms of transportation. By making conscious choices about your travel arrangements, you can reduce your overall environmental impact and contribute to a more sustainable sailing lifestyle.

By adopting sustainable sailing practices, we can minimise our impact on the environment and contribute to a healthier planet. Let us sail with purpose, mindfulness, and deep respect for the oceans. Together, we can ensure a sustainable future for sailors and the marine ecosystems we cherish.