Becoming a Sustainable Sailing School with BBdouro

Recently, we received a call from BBDouro, the largest sailing school in Northern Portugal. Looking to take further steps to reduce the environmental impact of the school, they were looking for an eco-friendly alternative to clean their fleet of 18 sailing yachts. They chose Ecoworks and it has paved the way for other sailing schools in Portugal to make similar steps.

We were really excited to hear how seriously BBDouro were taking their efforts to create a more sustainable sailing school, so we asked Diogo Couto, the fleet manager at BBDouro to tell us a little more about what other steps they have made and why. 

1) What made you decide you wanted to become a more sustainable sailing school?

Sports, health and environmental care are 3 things that must live together. In addition to feeling the responsibility of being, as a company and sailing school, an example to follow in what is the development of sustainability, our workplace is the Douro River and the Sea - a very important part of the planet. We feel that we have to respect and protect what we love most, as well as teaching our young sailors the importance that sustainability has for us and for the future generations.

 2) How easy has it been to make the conscious effort to be more sustainable?

As the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa said, "Primeiro estranha-se, depois entranha-se" ("Strange at first. Quickly it becomes natural"). The first step is always harder because it requires more work, logistics and money. We have, over the years, worked to become greener, and finally this big leap makes perfect sense for us and it feels right. Now, we can't imagine having any reality other than one that leverages the planet's sustainability.

3) You're using Ecoworks Marine to clean the boats, what other ideas are you implementing to be a more sustainable sailing School?

Besides changing to Ecoworks products, we also implemented some big changes that we believe help with our sustainable development.

With water quality and marine life preservation in mind, we have installed a Seabin at our HQ. This is a device that actually collects a large amount of litter from the water. We also teach our youngest junior academy sailors the importance to collect garbage by doing a monthly beach clean-up. Unfortunately this activity is currently on stand-by because of the restrictions imposed by the COVID pandemic.

We changed to sustainable water bottles called Earth Water, that reverts in donations to the United Nations World Food Programme, which we will use at all of our events and therefore avoid the use of disposable plastic bottles. We also started using non-plastic food containers for all the “on the water” meals served during championships, we offer reusable water bottles and install water stations to fill them, amongst many other small changes. Our aim is to reduce plastic consumption as much as possible.

4) You're based in Portugal, what kind of support do you get from central and local government? What about the community in general?

Unfortunately, there is still no support from the government. It´s a project totally built and supported financially by our company.

5) Do you think it will help you stand out from other sailing schools?

Yes. Nowadays, having a positive impact on the environment is something that is socially valued and is a real issue that we take very seriously.

In schools, children increasingly learn the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling, so we are sure that one day it will be the younger kids to teach us new methods of becoming more sustainable.

6) What advice would you have for other sailing schools who want to be more sustainable?

Step by step and all together we will move towards a better world. This is a common goal and we have to help each other to achieve it. We will never be able to reach the ideal world in a blink of an eye, so the work and effort of everyone is absolutely necessary. We won't see the result quickly, but we know that we are getting closer to it.