Water sports are a great way to get active during the summer months. They are also immensely fun while activating your body and mind like no shore-bound exercise can. They come in plenty of varieties, so you should be able to find something that suits your preferences and fitness levels.
However, apart from the fun, health and fitness factors, there is something else you should pay attention to: how environmentally-friendly the activity you choose is.
Your Water-Based Carbon Footprint
The simplest fact you need to know about reducing your carbon emissions while engaging in a water sport is this: if it requires a boat or any kind of engine-propelled vehicle (unless the engine runs on completely sustainable fuels), it is harming the environment.
This is why you should stay away from boating, jet skiing, water skiing, and other sports where you need to have a fast boat pull you through the water.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of these kinds of activities around. Simply by opting for other choices, that are just as available, you will be doing the planet a favor.
Here are some suggestions:
Swimming, Snorkeling and Diving
The most basic of water sports, swimming, is an excellent way to get some exercise and to enjoy the water.
It leaves virtually no trace on the environment, as you propel yourself on your own. However, what you take into the water will have an impact.
If you have used sunscreen prior to going into the water (and we certainly hope you have), you need to be aware of the damage it can do to the water ecosystem. Make sure the products you use are free of octinoxate and oxybenzone, as they can cause damage to coral reefs.
If you are using bug repellents on your skin, make sure you go for the DEET-free option, as the ingredient can destroy certain organisms and cause damage to the environment.
Apart from swimming, snorkeling and diving are also a great way to explore the ecosystem you find yourself in. Again, pay attention to what you take into the water with you, and consider how you are getting to your diving site. If it’s a large boat that will burn a lot of fuel, try to find an option that uses oars or rowing instead of an engine.
Kayaking and Paddle Boarding
Kayaking is a great way to explore a destination. It is relatively easy to engage in and does not require any specific training, but is still an upper body workout.
From a kayak, you can easily spot wildlife in the water and run your eyes across the shore to explore the towns or the wilderness you’re paddling past.
Paddle boarding will require a bit more dexterity, as you will be standing up on your board. It is a great sea- or ocean-based activity, but you can paddle board on a river too if you know how to handle the current. Make sure you know how to choose a paddle board appropriate for your size and fitness level.
When engaging in either of these activates, be mindful of the water ecosystem you’re entering. Don’t disturb the animals and other creatures that inhabit the waters: be gentle with your paddle, and don’t use it to pick at algae or coral. Don’t drop anything in the water either, especially from your kayak. Carry all of your rubbish with you and dispose of it properly when you get back to the shore.
If your mind is set on a boat, choose one that runs on either the power of an oar or the power of the wind. Sailing is more eco-friendly than riding on a boat designed to burn fuel. It is also a more organic way of getting about.
If you are going sailing, make sure you either know how to operate the sails perfectly well and are an experienced navigator, or you have someone on board who can help you out and get you from one place to the next.
There are plenty of ways to be both eco-conscious and enjoy your time in the water – just remember to be mindful about the environment and your impact on it during your summer break or any time of the year.