Ocean Advocates Week 4: Environmental Stewardship

Hey Ocean Advocates,

Over the past few weeks, we’ve given you the tools you need to better understand and share with others the impact we, as sailors, have on our environment. In this next module, we’re going to cover how to activate that and how to be a true Ocean Advocate.  We can’t stress this enough, if you’re interested in doing something – big or small – within your community but aren’t sure how to start, reach out to us. We’re more than happy to work with you 1:1 to figure out what makes most sense for you.

As a reminder, download the Green Boating Guide for a deeper dive. 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.


Well, what does it mean to be an Ocean Advocate?

We are conscious about our own impact on our environment, specifically Long Island Sound.We are committed to keeping the Sound clean and healthy, and we’re actively adopting new practices to get us there. We’re eager sharers of this information and we know that there’s strength in numbers. Environmental stewardship is harnessing all the resources that you have at your disposal to make a difference, whether big or small. And for us sailors, we have a lot more at our fingertips than we might realize.


Beach and marina clean-ups are powerful, easy ways to have an impact. For one, your efforts are immediate – there was plastic in the water and now there’s not. Clean-ups are also visible – the team effort is palpable and it’s easy for bystanders to pitch in. And, they’re scalable – you can have 100 people participating in a beach clean-up, or you can have two. Either way, the work will get done and an impact will be made.

No matter if you’re cleaning up a small private beach or a large public marina, you’re going to learn a lot about the type of waste that plagues the water we’re sailing on. For example, you might discover that you picked up an alarming amount of those little green Starbucks stirrers. Or you were inundated with Gatorade caps. Each piece of trash you find during a clean-up is an indication of what might be falling through the cracks of the recycling system – or human behavior. There’s an astounding amount you can learn and take away from a clean-up.

Top tips for holding a beach clean-up at your club:

  1. Form a team to help. Organizing and mobilizing a large group, like a regatta or your entire junior program, is way easier with a core team of helpers and hype-builders.

  2. Consider partnering with a local organization, or a non-profit like Sailors for the Sea, that can add legitimacy to your event. Whether or not it makes sense, having a symbolic backer behind your event might be more enticing for people to get involved.

  3. Even if you don’t have time for a full-blown clean-up, encourage sailors to spend 2 minutes at the end of an event picking up trash. Give out prizes for the most trash collected and the weirdest items found.

→ Bonus points if you bring “grab sticks” out on the water so you can pick up floating debris that hasn’t made it into the beach yet!


Fun fact: If we were to analyze sailors’ carbon footprint breakdown, we’d find that a huge portion comes from our travel to get to sailing. The unfortunate truth is that sailing is something we do every day in the summer, and 90% of us don’t step from our houses right into our boats. Daily travel takes a toll, and if we’re examining ways to be environmental stewards, we’d be remiss not to point out the carbon we emit by travelling to practice/regattas.

Here are a few car-free ways to get to and from the club or regattas everyday (none of which you don’t already know about!):

  • Foot (walking, running, skipping, cartwheeling?)

  • Bike (just cause you can’t use four wheels doesn’t mean you can’t use two)

  • Boat (bonus points for taking a sailboat to sailing )

  • Public transportation (or, alternatively, a carpool that creates fewer emissions per person)

  • Any other creative ideas? Bring em and share with your friends! The more of an activity you make it, the more fun it is and the more likely you’ll be able to change behavior.


As sailors, we have to coexist with marine wildlife while on the water. However, we’re not always cognizant of the role they play in our ecosystem and how our protection of that wildlife can be hugely important. First of all, we encourage you to visit Save the Sound to learn more about their restoration projects and the protected areas around the Sound. You’d be amazed at the number of projects they undertake and the amount of active restoration projects unfolding in our backyards.

Second, did you know oysters and clams are massively underrated and are critical to ocean health? They are filter feeders that keep our water clean by removing nitrogen. They are extremely important to protect and, in some cases, have been added to bays to accelerate nitrogen filtration.

Check out the Billion Oyster Project to learn more about how oysters cleaned up the East River after Hurricane Sandy.

→ Activity idea: Have a rainy or no-wind day? Instead of watching a movie, try out a Sailors for the Sea KELP Lesson Plan for kids. Oyster Tag is a game of freeze tag that offers an understanding of oyster reefs and toxic waste pollution in the water.


The consumption of meat plays a major role in ocean health. Livestock accounts for as much as 18% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Our oceans absorb approximately 25% of carbon emissions, which in turn heats up the ocean and causes acidification. Reducing meat consumption is an impactful and individual-level method of reducing your carbon emissions.

Top tips:

  • Consider implementing a Meatless Monday at your house or at a regatta

  • Ever heard of “reduceterian”? Have the meat as a side dish and vegetarian option as the main entree

  • Opt for veggie burgers over meat patties

  • Share plant-based options and recipes with your friends, peers, other sailors and regatta organizers

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.