Please select your home edition
Edition
MS Amlin 2019 - 728x90

Make 2019 count - Buy less; buy smarter

by Gael Pawson 2 Mar 2019 09:00 GMT
Repairing a drysuit neck seal © Drysuit Doctor / drysuitdoctor.co.uk

The first step in minimising our impact on the planet is to reduce our consumption. Even if what we buy is fully recyclable, energy needs to be used to recycle it, and so one of the biggest differences we can make is simply to buy less.

Every time we delay the purchase of a new jacket, or wetsuit, we reduce the number of products we need over our lifetime. This applies to every single bit of kit we own, as well as our sailing craft and its sails, cover, fittings... everything.

There are a number of ways we can do this:

  • Prolong the life of our stuff as much as we can.
  • Buy secondhand where we can.
  • Make sure the stuff we do buy has the minimum impact possible e.g. it is reusable, recyclable and ultimately compostable if possible.
  • Buy quality over quantity.

Why not challenge yourself to avoid buying any new clothing or other consumable products for a month, or each time you do decide you want to buy something this year, try delaying that purchase by just a month or two. Beware sales, which can encourage you to buy things you don't really need or the wrong items. Every time you do purchase, give yourself some breathing time to decide if you really do need it or if you can wait.

Prolonging the life of products

Many items are made from materials that aren't very good for the environment, with a lot of high tech synthetic fabrics, which aren't recyclable. Take wetsuits as just one example while there are a few companies developing more natural and sustainable fabrics (like Zhik's Eco Wetsuit), but most are made of neoprene, which isn't recyclable. With this in mind it's even more important to extend the product's life where we can.

Salt water and sunshine are particularly harsh on everything; they are harsh on our bodies as well as the clothing we wear and boats we sail in. Washing your kit out after every sail and storing it in a well-ventilated, dry environment will make a huge difference to its life. Far too many items get replaced because of corroded zips, which have deteriorated over the winter months. Hosing down your boat and sails properly and protecting them with a (high quality so it works well and doesn't need replacing so often) cover will make a big difference to the longevity of everything. If saving your money alone isn't enough of an incentive, how about the added incentive of being kinder to the planet!

Check out manufacturer sites for care guides, specialist re-proofing washes or sprays are great for restoring coatings on waterproof kit or for sails.

Make do and mend

Mending you kit can prolong its life by quite a lot; not only does this save you money it also saves yet another item entering the supply chain. Increasingly manufacturers are offering mending services, especially some of the pioneers in sustainable kit like Patagonia and Finisterre. Drysuit seals can be replaced instead of the whole suit being ditched for example, Trident and Hammond offer repair services.

Remember, even if there is a significant cost involved in getting your kit fixed, you are reducing your consumption, which is an added benefit of delaying purchasing a new product. Simpler repairs can be done yourself; there are plenty of step-by-step guides to help you, like this video on wetsuit repair.

Buying used

Boat jumbles are a great place to pick up second-hand or nearly new items. How about organising a kit swapping or nearly new sale at your sailing club? It could be a vehicle to raise funds for the club, raise awareness among members as well as reduce consumption of new items. This is particularly ideal for younger sailors who grow so fast and might only wear a wetsuit or lifejacket for a very short while.

Buying the right products

Take time over your purchases and buy the right product rather than rushing or compromising. Over the course of this series of articles we will look at some specific product groups, like clothing, but as a general guide look for materials that are as natural as possible - for those that aren't going to be compostable at the end of their life - look for recyclability and look at items made closer to home, so you are reducing the amount of energy used to transport them.

Look for quality so your items last longer and you don't need to consume as many of them. And make sure you like it; if you end up buying a colour or design you're not so keen on just because it was cheaper, you're not going to enjoy wearing it and you are more likely to end up replacing it earlier. A very valid excuse to buy that really lovely pair of gloves you were looking at instead of the cheap ones.

Pick products that are flexible and try to rationalise and simplify your kitbag. It will make packing easier, make it easier to keep on top of looking after your kit and help to ensure it gets a full life of use.

Finally look for natural, compostable materials and companies that offer a recycling or mending scheme.

Related Articles

Beware scammers when you are buying a boat
Four of the simplest guidelines to avoid getting ripped off It is a sad fact that the secondhand boat market is still prone to dodgy-dealing and cunning rip-offs. Some buyers are still falling foul of ruses that are over 30 years old, which can make it seem even more painful. Posted on 8 Jul
Marine VHF Radio: Q&A with Icom's Ian Lockyer
Including how to get a licence and what to do in an emergency We spoke to Icom Marine's Ian Lockyer to find out a more about Marine VHF Radio including how to get a licence, what to do in an emergency and what the M1 and M2 channels are. Posted on 7 Jul
Happy Hour with Mateusz Kusznierewicz
Stretch & Stirfry chat with the Olympic champion and Star Sailors League pioneer Becoming an Olympic Champion at 21yrs old, a brief Polish history lesson, the Star Sailors League and Stirfry's language skills all come under close scrutiny as the lads chat with Mateusz Kusznierewicz. Posted on 7 Jul
Once in a blue moon
Every so often you get lucky, sometimes you get really lucky and sometimes you win the lottery Every so often you get lucky, sometimes you get really lucky and sometimes you win the lottery. Sail-World.com's Australian Editor John Curnow hit the jackpot last week while out with the Australian Sailing Team at Coffs Harbour Yacht Club. Posted on 6 Jul
How to keep girls in our awesome sport?
It's widely known that there's a stark drop out for junior sailors It's widely known that there's a stark drop out for junior sailors as they hit their teens. Sadly, with exams and social pressures being the biggest culprit, this affects girls more than boys. Posted on 6 Jul
In Conversation with Tristan Walker-Hutt
New projects during lockdown for the East Coast sailor Back in January 2019 we published the 'Budget Ultra-High Performance Sailing' article about the International 14 Fawkes, which Tristan Walker-Hutt and Tom Clayton had renovated on a very tight budget. Posted on 2 Jul
An interesting cluster develops
So Jeanneau's Sun Fast 3600 has certainly been a bit of a giant killer, especially short-handed. So Jeanneau's Sun Fast 3600 has certainly been a bit of a giant killer, especially short-handed. Races like the 5500nm Melbourne to Osaka lie as testament to that. Posted on 28 Jun
Happy Hour with Mike 'Moose' Sanderson
All in fluent Kiwanese... This week, the boys catch up with "Moose", talking all things Doyle. Sit back and learn about 'load sharing', The Ocean Race, Cherub sailing and Mari Cha all in fluent Kiwanese... Posted on 26 Jun
Sailing is freedom
We can all mess about in or on any type of boat or board It seems 'The Great Grass Roots Revival?' and 'Messing about in boats' had quite an impact. With my own eyes I see what is happening on my doorstep with more activity on the water than I've seen in years, but this was just the microcosm that I live in. Posted on 22 Jun
Morty chats on Happy Hour with Stretch and Stirfry
The lads catch up with one of yachting's most consistent winners This week, the lads catch up with one of yachting's most consistent winners; Morty (Peter Morton) who has more wins under his belt than any other northern hemisphere yachtsman. Posted on 22 Jun