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How to be a conscious consumer

Thousands of tonnes of rubbish enter our inland and coastal waters every year and it is predicted that the amount entering the ocean will nearly triple. It is estimated that more than a million birds and mammals die every year from entanglement, or from the ingestion of plastics such as balloons and plastic bags. Plastic litter can persist in the marine environment indefinitely and even biodegradable waste like food can take years to fully break down. Although a small fraction of the many millions of tonnes of annual marine litter comes from the recreational boating industry, everyone has a responsibility to follow best practice and not make the situation worse.


You can…



  • Reduce the amount of products you purchase, think do you really need it?

  • Avoid purchasing products with single use packaging

  • Use long life products such refillable water bottles or bags for life

  • Encourage suppliers to reduce or improve their packaging to sustainable options

  • Avoid products that may contain microplastics e.g. some face/body scrubs, toothpastes, cosmetics and other cleaning products. One ingredient to look out for is ’polyethylene’.

  • Avoid working on your boat while it is on the water – waste could go into the water.

  • Don’t throw anything over the side, including food. Orange peel can take up to 2 years to biodegrade in salt water.

  • Secure all items on board to prevent accidental falling or being blown overboard.

  • Avoid applying stickers to parts of your boat, e.g. the hull, where they can be worn and peel off into the environment.



  • Reuse items where possible by selling or donating your boat, equipment and clothing to other boaters, clubs or centres.

  • Consider second hand options

  • Choose products designed to last and take care of your equipment

  • Reuse packaging

  • Contact producer of product and investigate return options at end of use



  • Aim to increase your recycling – why not have a separate recycling bin on-board? Most marinas, clubs and harbours have recycling facilities to dispose of waste onshore, so find your nearest recycling by using our Environmental Facilities Directory. Alternatively, recycle items at home or take them to your local recycling centre.

  • Encourage your club, centre or marina to provide recycling facilities and go single-use plastic free.

  • Donate unwanted sail cloth and rope to organisations making alternative products from these items such as reusable bags, deck chairs awnings. These include:





  • Hazardous waste includes oil, fuel and paints; and must be disposed of correctly and not put into the general waste stream. 

  • Find nearest oil disposal centre 

  • Don’t contaminate general waste, recycling, hazardous waste and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) disposal facilities with incorrect items. Check to find out what items can be disposed of in provided bins if not clearly labelled.

  • Ensure all paints, fuel and oil and any item contaminated with these such as paint brushes, gloves and oily rags are disposed of in hazardous waste bins.

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