Why buying a used boat is good for the environment!
Boatshed are passionate about being able to play a role in looking after the environment. One of our customers, Ian Wyllie, who bought a boat via Boatshed IOW in February 2021 has provided us with his thoughts on Boatshed and how selling used boats can reduce environmental impact:
Boatshed are a broker who treats all boats equally. Old or young, in great condition or needing some love. That respect is both a credit to them as a company and an environmental good. Many ‘good old boats’ marketed by Boatshed find new homes, new life, and new love. This is an environmental good on a large scale, preventing or deferring for many years the unwelcome point at which older GRP boats become waste plastic in our environment. The boat owners - myself included - who are deliberate owners of older boats are doing our sport a great service in reducing waste and reusing older boats.
By treating all boats equally and providing such comprehensive details including up to 200 photos it makes it possible for browsers to gain enough information about an older boat to decide to travel to visit or commission a survey - both activities which in older boats cost much more proportionally than with newer second hand or new boats.
As a sport we are living with a dirty secret. The boats we enjoy and celebrate will go early to landfill unless we reuse them to the end of their possible lives and put pressure on the industry to develop better recycling and waste reduction technology. This secret dirties any claim sailing has to be a clean or ecologically friendly sport and conscious reuse of boats is an environmental good. The challenge for sailing is posed by the fact that safe commercial methods for recycling or disposing of yachting materials like GRP which are at root ‘plastics’ are not yet widespread. These materials are complex first because the resin cure process creates a very permanent sort of thermosetting polymer, and secondly because the resin matrix has reinforcement (glass, carbon or aramid in it).
Efficient second hand marketplaces like Boatshed promote effective reuse and make a huge environmental contribution by doing so, because reuse is always more effective than recycling. Second hand markets are particularly important in the market for older boats, because perversely these older boats often have more potential for reuse than newer models. This sounds counterintuitive but in the early days of serial GRP boat production engineers and boatbuilders were genuinely unsure of the ground truth properties of the material. Accordingly, they massively overbuilt boats using thick, un-cored layup and ratios of resin to reinforcement which today would be unbelievably expensive - and rightly considered dreadfully wasteful.
There is waste related to refurbishing older GRP boats, and survey of skips in boatyards suggest that many continue to be disturbingly wasteful places. However, in relative terms the extra amounts of resin used, and the materials involved in interior refurbishment are small compared with new build. As responsible boaters giving older boats new life, we can plan our refits in a way which is environmentally conscious and make our role in making sailing a greener sport than it has ever been since plastics first reared their head in society.
Ian is currently sailing around Britain and you can follow him at SailingTrilleen.org once stopovers are confirmed, they will be updating the website.