Ocean Advocates Week 2: Waste Not!

Hey Ocean Advocates,

Hope you all were able to make it through at least part of last week’s module on single-se plastics. If you want to learn more or tell us about any moves you’ve made to eliminate single-use plastics in your community – drop us a line!

Anyway, welcome to our second module, the ~most exciting~ of them all: managing waste responsibly.

We leave a lot of waste in our wake. (Pun intended for us sailors.) We’re not talking about littering; we’re talking about the fact that it’s almost impossible to go through a day without leaving a trace on our environment. We’ll dig into it more. As a reminder, we collaborate with Sailors for the Sea, so if you want to learn more about anything below, we encourage you to visit the Clean Regatta Toolkit and the Green Boating Guide.

Reach out with any questions, thoughts, prompts, or just to say hi. And, let us know if you try any of the below! We’d love to hear how it goes.



Waste means a lot of things. In our last module on single-use plastics, we looked at how to avoid using things like water bottles. But using reusable water bottles is just the tip of the iceberg. Single-use plastics only account for part of the waste we create everyday.

Other types of waste we leave behind as sailors on a daily basis:

-Food scraps

-Lunch bags

-Snack/candy wrappers



… there are more!


You might be thinking, “but I always throw away my trash and recycle when possible!” The unfortunate reality is that the waste management system in the US is somewhat broken. 146.1 million tons of waste went into landfills in 2018. 24% of that was food, 18% was plastic, and 12% paper. Textiles and inorganic material made up the remaining 44%.

That means it’s up to us to do better at managing our waste, or even better — create less of it.


Have you ever seen a compost bin at a yacht club or regatta? Composting may not be mainstream yet, but it’s hugely underrated. Food waste a) takes up space in landfills b) releases methane gas in landfills and c) when composted, can actually sequester carbon back into the ground. Composting is a win-win-win.

If your club doesn’t already compost, you can help them get started by following a few steps:

  1. Identify a composter near you. This site helps.

  2. Designate a compost bin and a schedule for when/who takes it to the composter (could be a fun trip!)

  3. Educate people about what goes in the compost and what doesn’t (hint: to make it easier, we recommend starting only collecting food scraps)

  4. Spread the word about why composting is so important and why people should be psyched that their club is taking steps to manage their waste!


Raise your hand if you’ve ever been unsure what goes in recycling, what goes in landfill, and now what goes in compost. You’re not alone. As basic as it sounds, good signage can actually make all the difference in helping people use the right bin. (Or in other words, it can prevent people from spoiling an entire bin by using the wrong one.) The next time it’s stormy or there’s no breeze (hello Long Island Sound), save the movie or chalk talk for another day and make signs to clearly mark which items go in which bin.


We’ve covered composting and food waste, but can’t let paper go unnoticed. Paper is a form of waste that is often not disposed of properly. As with all waste, it’s best to opt for paperless options, especially because paper is extremely wasteful to produce in the first place. We use paper more than we realize in sailing – from Sailing Instructions, to notice boards, to scoring and results.

Going paperless can go a few ways:

  1. Expand the use of whiteboards. They can be notice boards, rotations, notes and more.

  2. Encourage your club to use online regatta management systems, like Regatta Network, Regatta Guru or Yacht Scoring, that can handle regatta registration, event management and all media communications.

  3. Ask clubs to communicate via email when it comes to notices, updates and other important information.


One of the oldest tricks in the book (read: key to success) is assembling a designated Green Team. You all, the Ocean Advocates, are the JSA’s version of a Green Team. You can form your own at your club. Why would you want to? Because teams are powerful. A Green Team provides you, the leader, with much needed support and people with whom you can share responsibilities. Your team can be any size and consist of anyone (pro tip: parents are actually quite good at getting things done).

How to activate your Green Team:

  • Recruit team members! Share with them why this is important for you and why we’ll be better off.

  • Define a specific goal of your Green Team. Teams function best when they have a clear mission to work toward together.

  • If your Green Team is supporting a regatta or event, make sure they’re easily identifiable (i.e. green shirts!)

  • Give them responsibility. Their enthusiasm and leadership will help the team’s overall success. Responsibilities might include:

  • Overseeing implementation of specific Ocean Advocates best practices

  • Communicating the Ocean Advocates’ mission to sailors, parents, instructors and others

  • Managing water refill stations or sourcing/distributing reusable water bottles

  • Overseeing the trash, recycle and compost bins – because even with signage, people get it wrong!

  • Leading the inception of one creative idea to make your Green Team’s activities unique

Share with your communities, tag us on Instagram, let us know how you’re doing!

-Ocean Advocates @JSAofLIS

Article contributed by Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick: Megan is a life long sailor who grew up sailing at Noroton YC and was an instructor at Riverside YC for one summer. She now races J/70s, IC37s and Viper 640s on the weekends. Megan is a volunteer leader with Sailors of the Sea because she knows healthy oceans are key to mitigating climate change and believes sailors have a unique responsibility to protect their second home.