How can you prevent Marine Debris from ruining your vacation

New discoveries of islands made of garbage in the ocean can cause great concern for everyone over the prevalence of marine debris on our planet. Marine debris can harm the entire ocean ecosystem and can be easily prevented by taking care to dispose of trash properly and by making sure that your gear is Eco-friendly should it go overboard by accident.
Types of Marine Debris:

Plastics – Plastics are no being found in icebergs at both poles at an alarming rate. These plastics can impact marine life in many negative ways. These plastics can range from commonly lost items like bags, cups, or plastic bags; to industrial products; or  fishing gear. We can help prevent this by using biodegradable items like a compostable trash bag on board. Or, by using items that are less likely to break and be replaced over and over.

Glass, Styrofoam, and Rubber – Commonly used in our society, these materials are broken down into smaller and smaller fragments, but they never really go away. These can have similar effects in the marine environment to plastic and they are used for a wide range of products. Their occurrence in the marine debris is overwhelming.

Derelict Fishing Gearis recreational or commercial fishing equipment like nets, lines, crab/shrimp pots, and other  that has been lost, abandoned, or discarded in the ocean. Modern gear is generally made of synthetic materials and lost gear will be a part of the marine debris for a long time. Abandoning synthetic equipment for more natural products like hemp rope.

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Going Green with Marine Hardware in an Imperfect World

Going Green with Marine Hardware in an Imperfect World

Most marine hardware can be divided into two distinct groups these days.

Cheap junk made with little, if any, thought to the impact its production has on the environment or the workers involved – or high quality gear made from materials designed to last, by companies that care.

More and more consumers are starting to care too.

Plastic and nylon parts are durable for a while and they satisfy price sensitive shoppers. Their production, however, creates numerous toxins, and eventually enough sunshine or stress will cause them to break.

Chrome, nickel, and zinc plating can protect metal surfaces for years, but their initial production, especially in third-world countries can cause devastating harm.

Painted parts are effective for a while, but paint production is usually nasty, and as it chips and goes over the side, paint carries its own poisons along.

Environmentally conscious companies like greenboatstuff.com choose to carry aluminum, brass, bronze, stainless steel, and occasionally wood hardware.

In an imperfect world, these choices are not entirely without their faults.

However, they satisfy the criteria for high quality, long lasting products that do the job well while inflicting minimal, if any, harm.

Another important green aspect is a lack of a minimum order policy. Restrictive policies that force you to purchase in bulk only produce waste.

After all, if a customer only needs a certain quantity of an item, why force them to pay for something that will sit on a shelf for years or be discarded?

Sure, this might sound like a little thing, but if we can discourage waste, especially of products like hardware that are made almost exclusively from natural resources, we believe it is both good business and good for the Planet.

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Foolproof Earth-friendly Boat Maintenance: Non-Toxic Cleaning

Foolproof earth-friendly boat maintenance: Cleaning your boat

There is a significant impact from recreational boating on aquatic ecosystems. Cleaning your boat in a marine mindful way is one powerful way you can help the aquatic environment. Toxic products in the water can harm fish, shellfish, and sea birds. These and other forms of aquatic life require a delicate balance of nutrients in clean water to survive.

Waxing your boat – Coating a fiberglass hull with wax prevents the build up of dirt on your boat, which also reduces cleaning time and the use of harmful products.

Using non-toxic cleaners – Use phosphate-free cleaning products that do not contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to Marine life. Try using natural cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice or salt.

Keep in mind that baking soda is an excellent all-around cleaner, but it is abrasive, so use with care.

Fiberglass/Showers/Shower-heads
Mix a paste of baking soda and water. Gently rub the mix into the dirty areas using a sponge or rag.
Spray on lemon juice and wipe-down for shine and a fresh-smell.

Windows and Mirrors
Fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar, lemon juice and warm water. Use old newspapers to wipe down, they are more effective than paper towels and they get reused too!

Chrome
Rub it clean using apple cider vinegar on a rag. After cleaning, using a separate rag with a dab of baby oil, polish to a bright shine.

Copper
Mix together lemon juice and salt into a paste. Rub gently to clean.

Stainless Steel
Dampen a rag with white vinegar to clean.

Aluminum
Make a mixture of cream of tartar and water. Clean with a rag.

Plastics
Mix one part white vinegar with two parts warm water. Use a rag to clean

Exterior Decks
Mop on a mixture of one part white vinegar and eight parts warm water. Dry completely.

Interior Woods
Polish on natural oils like olive oil or almond oil with a rag.

Keep these non-toxic cleaners in mind when cleaning your house as well to prevent pollution of our precious groundwater at home. If we all do our part, we can make this world a better place!

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How to Prepare your Boat for a Hurricane

Hurricane Irene may be old news, but hurricane season is far from over in the United States. Is your boat protected from severe storms? Use this checklist to reduce the risk of damage to your boat in the event of a hurricane.

How to Protect Your Boat from a Hurricane

Know your responsibilities at your marina. Read your dock contract to find any specific steps you might be required to take in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm.

Limit your boat’s windage, the surface area exposed to the wind. Remove rigging, canvas, and deck gear and turn your bow toward the greatest exposure.

Take the boat out of the water. The safest place for a boat is far away from a storm. This is especially important for smaller boats, open boats and boats with low a freeboard that can be easily sunk by surges and waves.

Find a hurricane hole. If you can’t get your boat completely out of the water, consider securing your boat in a local canal or river.

Get off the boat. Even if you have secured your boat in a hurricane hole, it is not safe to be on board during a storm. Secure the boat and then take cover, remembering that even expensive property can be replaced or repaired while human life cannot.

For more information on securing a boat during a hurricane, checkout this guide from Boat U.S.

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What Green Boaters Should Know About Tar Sands

Beginning August 20th, more than 1,000 people began to converge on the White House in Washington, D.C. to protest potential legislation that would authorize construction of a 1,600-mile long pipeline between Canadian tar sands pits and United States oil refineries. Protesters have been arrested and released, but the fight against the tar sands is much larger than this single act of civil disobedience. Many scientists and environmentalists say that the results of this debate could have game-changing consequences for the United States and the world at large. Anyone who is inclined to work to protect the environment and slow climate change should have a better understanding of the tar sands controversy.

What You Should Know About Tar Sands

Tar sands oil is not the same as other oil. The oil that is extracted from Canadian tar sands contains a large amount of bitumen. This chemical difference changes excavation and refinery needs as well as the makeup of emissions. Tar sands oil is, basically, even worse for the environment than “regular” oil.

Pipeline would jeopardize fragile lands and water supplies. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would cross the Sand Hills of Nebraska, extremely porous land that would suffer greatly from any spills, and the shallow Ogallala Aquifer, which is a major source of water for much of the Midwest. The company that would be building the pipeline has a history of spills and accidents on past tar sands projects.

The tar sands produce a fossil fuel. Although the pipeline has been promoted as a solution for America’s current dependency on foreign oil, it is merely a short-term solution to a larger problem: ongoing dependency on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are a limited, non-renewable resource and this project is the result of a society scrambling to adjust to diminishing availability.

The fact that we can run out of fossil fuels is becoming more and more obvious, but current plans seem to be focused on looking harder at old solutions instead of looking for new answers. What can we do as individuals?

And of course, spread the word!

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4 Places to Learn More about Green Boating

Being a green boater means learning how to enjoy your hobby without damaging the water in which you do it, but it also means educating yourself about what’s good and bad for the environment and why. The more you know about green boating, the easier it will be for you to make wise consumer choices and to develop earth-friendly boating habits. But where can you go to learn more about green boating? Start with these great resources.

4 Places to Learn More about Green Boating

Discover Boating - this website offers a wealth of information about boating in general, including a great deal of data about green boating.

United States Environmental Protection Agency - the EPA is a great resource for learning more about the environment and how you can work to protect it in all areas of your life. They offer specific guidelines for green boating and preventing boating pollution.

California’s Clean Boating Program – while this site is focused on helping California boaters be more green, the information is valuable for people all over the country (and world) who have an interest in maintaining the environmental health of the waters in which they play.

Your state conservation office – whether it’s called the DNR, exchange office, or conservation department, there is a department in your local and state government responsible for maintaining the area’s natural resources. These agencies are the best source for up to date information about regional concerns and regulations.

Of course, we also provide green boating tips right here every week! :-)

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3 Inexpensive Ways to Go Green

Expense is one of the most common reasons that people avoid taking steps to be more green. In today’s economic climate, it’s understandable that you may not be eager to learn more about protecting the environment if you think it will cost you more money each month. Even if you do care about the environment, long-term effects can easily be put on the back burner in the face of immediate financial crisis.

Being environmentally responsible doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, conserving and protecting natural resources can often save you money. Check out these tips for cheap ways to go green.

3 Cheap Ways to Go Green

1. Use less water in your home.

Unless you have your own well, you’re paying for every drop of water that you use, which is a great motivator for learning more about water conservation. Low flow faucets and toilets can help, but you can reduce the amount of water you use without a single trip to the hardware store. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and when doing dishes. Take quick showers instead of long baths, and consider turning off the water while you soap up. Check out the EPA’s Water Sense site for more tips for conserving water at home.

2. Use a smaller garbage can.

The less you throw away, the less you add to the landfill. But perhaps a better reason for throwing away less is to reduce the resources need to make new stuff. If you’re finding ways to reuse items instead of throwing them away, you eliminate the need for replacement items to be made, which can cut down on the production of plastics. Make a family challenge to slowly cut down on how much garbage you set out by the curb each week; you’ll be amazed at the creative ideas you come up with for reusing what you already have!

3. Enact a shopping ban.

Another way to get the creative juices flowing and immediately improve your household budget is to announce an embargo on shopping. You’ll still need groceries, of course, but see how long your family can go without hitting up the local big box market. Consider setting a goal and rewarding yourself with a special activity if you can go 30, 60, or 90 days without shopping.

These three small changes won’t cost you a dime and can help you save money and resources for future generations.

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Why Are Stainless Steel Dishes Good for the Environment?

GreenBoatStuff.com sells a variety of products designed to make boating a greener hobby. As you would expect, there are green painting supplies, wind and solar power equipment, and environmentally-friendly cleaning products for sale. But you’ll also find a several other categories of items, including stainless steel dishes for sale in the “green galley gear” section.

What do stainless steel dishes have to do with the environment?

Whether used in a house, on a boat, or in a tent during a weekend camping trip, every man-made product you touch came from somewhere and something. This includes the plates, bowls, and cups you use.

Stainless steel, unlike plastic that is often used for “travel” dishes, is not made from an oil byproduct. It’s also easy to extremely durable, reducing the need for it to be replaced in the immediate future. When a stainless steel product does need to be replaced, the original product can easily be melted down and reused again.

When it comes to dishes, consumers should also keep in mind that these household products come in direct contact with food that will be ingested into the body. Although we can’t see it, trace amounts of chemicals from plastic and other materials are believed to seep into food and water contained by the dish. In other words, you’re eating tiny petroleum particles. Ew!

Another reason to choose stainless steel dishes: no harsh chemicals required for cleaning! Stainless steel can be cleaned, disinfected, and shined up with little more than baking soda, vinegar, or olive oil.

The next time you’re making a new purchase, considering choosing stainless steel if you’re trying to be green.

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Teaching Kids Green Boating

If the environment is important to you, chances are you’ve already thought about what state it will be in for the next generation. But have you also considered how the next generation will care for it? Conservation and respect for plants and wildlife are values that need to be passed on to children if our own efforts are going to have a long-term impact. Here are a few ways to teach kids about green boating and environmental consciousness.

Tips for Teaching Kids about Green Boating

1. Talk trash. When your family hits the water, make sure everyone knows about your no-littering policy. But don’t stop there; take the time to talk about why keeping your trash out of the water is important. Many people have the misconception that only items that won’t naturally decompose need to be disposed of properly, but when you’re on the water it’s just as important that you don’t leave behind biodegradable materials that don’t belong in that ecosystem.

2. Get to know your neighbors. Take a field guide and binoculars out with you for the day and challenge your kids to identify different species of animals and plants both in the water and around it. A child who is more aware of the life that lives in the water is more likely to take steps to protect it.

3. Visit a new watering hole. An important part of green boating is preventing the spread of invasive species from one waterway to another. Take the boat out to different spots and get the kids involved in helping you with preparations, including giving the hull a good scrubbing! In addition to learning firsthand about how to prevent relocating species from one environment to another, seeing a variety of ecosystems and waterways helps children understand the concept of environmental diversity.

Want more information about sharing the Great Outdoors with kids? Check out one of our favorite Facebook pages, Babes in the Woods.

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U.S. Air Force Bringing Solar Power to 2,000 Homes

As individuals work to green up their own lives, it’s encouraging to know that the United States government is taking steps to do the same – albeit at a slower rate than most households. The Department of Defense is aiming to have 25 percent of its energy needs met by renewable energy sources by the year 2025. Although that’s more than a decade into the future, progress is being made in the present.

The U.S. Navy has been working on biofuel solutions for its various boats, and the U.S. Air Force recently announced plans to add solar power to Hickam Communities at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The Hawaiian community operated by Lend Lease will have solar panels installed by SolarCity on 600 rooftops. The electricity generated by those panels is expected to provide enough for energy for as many as 2,000 homes on the base. The installation is expected to take about two years and will result in one of the largest solar powered communities in the U.S. The project will also generate 55 new green jobs in the area, although these jobs are considered short-term.

Are you ready to bring solar power to your home or boat?

Portable solar power systems allow the average person to make the switch to solar power on small mobile homes and vessels for a relatively small investment.

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