Going 'Green' in Waterworld

1 July 2008 By Janine Ketterer

Do you remember the movie Waterworld? It was a mid-1990s film that starred Kevin Costner as a lonely mariner in a world where the polar ice caps have melted and the entire globe is covered by water.

Yeah, the movie was pretty bad, but it's a cult favorite.

Anyway, all of the discussions and debates about global warming and melting polar icecaps had me thinking about Waterworld and how the yacht industry fits into this grim scenario.

Think about it: You work on luxury yachts that travel the globe burning lots of fuel and using many resources. How do your career and lifestyle contribute to environmental change?

You know where I'm going with this. It's nearly impossible to go anywhere today without hearing something about “Go Green” campaigns by companies, industries and individuals in countries everywhere. Every time you turn on the news you hear about someone else “going green” to help save the environment, whether it actually has any real impact or not.

There is a great debate raging in the United States, the United Nations and on each continent about the environmental problems plaguing our planet and our pockets. Fuel prices are sky high and there seems to be no relief in sight. People are reconsidering the automobiles they drive for better fuel efficiency. But what about the yachts on which we work?

The yachting industry is one of excess, spending loads of money on lavish things, sucking up as much oil for diesel to run from the Caribbean to the Med and back each year. Are we part of the problem? Well, everyone is. But we can also be part of the solution. Some yacht crews are jumping on the bandwagon without hesitation.

Stew Lan Pepe of M/Y Dreams is onboard with that idea. “I don’t use paper towels," she says. “I use rags because I don’t agree with how wasteful they [paper towels] are. We use all biodegradable soap and a lot of orange products as they have fewer chemicals. We also use less bottled water. Our owner thinks using a Brita is fine – less plastic waste.”

A stew from M/Y Primadonna agrees. “We do use all organic products on board and we use vinegar and water a lot for cleaning. It’s extremely hard to recycle on board, but we were in Italy and there were facilities there. I think it’s a good idea.”

As hard are you try to be a good steward of the environment, your resources might simply be the problem. Biodiesel fueling stations are difficult to find the world around not to mention recycling centers at marinas.

Deckhand Jared and Engineer Nigel of M/Y Mystic agree, “We notice a lot of U.S. marinas don’t have recycling; it’s better – and there’s a lot more – in the Baltic regions. Our chef is into organic foods and we shop at Whole Foods. All of our cleaning products are biodegradable. There is no real push in the industry to go green, but if the choice is there we’ll definitely do it.”

Some however aren’t pretending in the industry. They know how much fuel their vessels burn and won’t be hypocritical about the situation.

“Any motor yacht that pretends to hug trees is a liar when we burn 200 gallons an hour. More power to the sailboats – more wind power anyway,” Mate Patrick of M/Y My Girl says, refusing to sugar-coat the truth.

So what do you think? Yachting is a watery world and we need to protect it, but how? Do we really have any influence over the environment that surrounds us?

Is your yacht environmentally friendly? Do you have any ‘go green’ tips to pass along? Share your comments below and be sure to vote in our interactive poll.

If not, we'll force you to watch Waterworld, and believe me, you don't want that to happen.