4 Easy Steps to Choosing Sustainable Yacht Wear and Crew Uniform

Whether sailing your 20ft sailing dinghy or managing the crew of a 75 metre superyacht, choosing sustainable yacht wear and crew uniform is a relatively inexpensive and quick way to improve your environmental footprint out on the water.

It’s important that the yacht crew are looking smart and have the right gear to protect you from the elements in what can be a harsh environment, whether that’s scorching sun or freezing wind and rain. However, like much of what we use these days, as great as yacht gear can be at protecting us from the elements, it’s not always great for the environment. We’ve looked into the key necessary crew kit needed on board and discuss below how you can make some pretty simple steps in choosing more sustainable yacht wear in your yacht clothing or crew uniform choices helping you improve your boats impact on the ocean.


Choosing Sustainable Yacht Wear and Crew Uniform - ethical yacht wear


1. Sustainable Yacht Wear - Clothing

If you are a chief stew on board or in some way in charge of what clothing the crew wears then choose an ethical and environmentally friendly option. The clothing industry is responsible for a growing amount of pollution through pesticide use in the growing of cotton, emissions in transport and contributing to waste in landfills.

The clothing industry's effect on water alone is massive. It’s estimated that the manufacture of a single cotton t-shirt uses 2,700 litres of fresh water, enough to meet one person’s drinking needs for 2.5 years. Furthermore the use of cotton production also requires pesticides and insecticides, which pollute the soil. The runoff from fertilized cotton fields carry the excess chemicals to water bodies, causing eutrophication and algal blooms.

The dyeing process for fabrics also uses toxic chemicals, responsible for 17 to 20 percent of global industrial water pollution. In fact Seventy-two toxic chemicals have been found in the water used in textile dyeing.

There are now a number of companies specialising in ethical and sustainable yacht wear and crew uniforms. It’s literally in the name of Ethical Yacht Wear who specialise in sustainable crew uniforms. In the first instance, if looking for crew wear, give these companies a try, they should know where to source quality and sustainable items for the crew. 

When selecting garments, choose organic cotton, which will have been grown without pesticides and likely manufactured with more care too. Seek out ethical labels like Fair Wear and Fair Trade which not only look at employment standards in clothing factories, another concern in the clothing industry but also sustainability too. 

For technical gear, there are more and more companies looking at the impact their clothing has on the environment both in the manufacturing process and post use. These companies are using recycled materials, offering clothing repair schemes to prolong the life of their products and return schemes so the products can be recycled into new garments, reducing the amount of items ending up in landfill. 

These days tech gear companies are also looking at the coatings they use for weather proofing which in the past have been toxic. Do a little research when purchasing and a wealth of companies will likely come up. We not so long ago chatted to Henri Lloyd and heard all about their efforts to be more sustainable including all of the above and even selling preloved clothes.

Finally, remember to reuse if possible to prolong the life of items and if not able, recycle crew uniforms at the end of use. Many locations will have clothes recycling bins that will stop the clothing going to landfill after use. 


Choosing Sustainable Yacht Wear and Crew Uniform - Sunscreen


2. Sustainable Yacht Wear - Suncream

Essential for when you’re out on the water, you can’t get away from wearing a good quality suncream to protect your skin when out on the boat. However many, if not most sunscreens contain ingredients that are harmful to aquatic life. 

Researchers have found that many ingredients in sunscreens are harmful to the ocean. Oxybenzone, butylparaben, and octinoxate in particular have been found to be harmful to coral and other sea life. Hawaii has even banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. A study in 2015 “found that oxybenzone induces coral bleaching by lowering the temperature at which corals will bleach when exposed to prolonged heat stress. We also showed that oxybenzone is genotoxic, meaning that it damages coral DNA as well as induces severe and lethal deformities.” Researchers have also found that the chemicals can activate latent viral infections in the symbiotic microalgae that the corals rely on for nutrition. 

These three are by no means the only culprits though and it is worth noting that “reef-friendly” is not a regulated term, which means that products can use the term freely without having to show any evidence from testing. As an aside this is the same case for yacht cleaning products. Therefore, in both cases, it’s always best to do your research and look at ingredient lists in detail.

If you’re interested to read more and do a little more research check out this excellent article on Earth.org.


Sustainable yacht wear - Waterhaul sunglasses


3. Sustainable Yacht Wear - Sunglasses

Much like suncream, sunglasses are an essential staple on board to protect crew's eyes from year round UV rays and to stop them being blinded by bright sun. If you’re supplying your team with sunglasses, bear in mind most sunglasses are made with some form of plastic. Acetate is another popular material for sunglasses which also contains fossil fuel-derived chemicals that can harm the environment.

However there are some ways of doing better here. There are some companies tackling the question of sustainable sunglasses by reusing pre-loved frames. Others are choosing to use recycled plastic for their sunnies, salvaged from landfill or cleared from oceans and beaches.

Bio-acetate is another option which has a high proportion of plant-based materials and can biodegrade quickly without releasing harmful chemicals. Our reading around this has been conflicted though. There is no set standard for what constitutes bio-acetate and  Up to 75% of acetate is typically wasted by an eyewear manufacturer in the process. Furthermore there are questions as to whether bio-acetate is truly biodegradable and about the chemicals used in the process.

We feel it’s probably best to choose sunglasses from recycled sources, use for as long as possible and recycle if possible being wary of how you dispose of the sunglasses. A brand we love and use ourselves is Waterhaul, which creates its frames using 100% recycled ghost fishing gear, the most harmful and abundant form of ocean plastic, that has been collected from the coastline of Cornwall, UK.. Don’t forget your sunglass retainer strap too, to help stop you losing your sunglasses overboard. This will ensure you get the max life out of them, plus we like the 90s wind surfer vibe.

Choosing Sustainable Yacht Wear and Crew Uniform - eco-laundry


4. Sustainable Yacht Wear - Use Ecolaundry Liquids

Remember, what you use in your washing machines or pour down your sinks will likely end up in the sea so be responsible with what you use on board. Stay away from bleach and try to use plant based environmentally friendlier alternatives.  

We have a couple of solutions. Firstly, our eco laundry liquid concentrate is phosphate-free laundry detergent that can be used on all types of laundry, great for hand or machine washing. It’s made with natural plant softeners and cleaning agents. Much better for oceans.

Secondly we love our eco fabric cleaner which is a fantastic spot cleaner, safe for all soft furnishing or carpets and even coffee stains on white t-shirts. It’s pH neutral, made from natural ingredients using enzymes to break down nasty stains and uses no nasty chemicals. It’s also fully biodegradable and an environmentally safe formula.

You can read more about grey water best practice in our blog here.