Our friends at New Jersey Sea Grant have some great tips about safe, clean, environmentally friendly things that every boater can do to help the environment while preparing their watercraft for the season. And while there are some differences in conditions between the east coast and our Midwestern lakes and rivers, there are a number of steps that are universally good for protecting the outdoors.
In the Midwest, most boats spend the winter in storage, and when spring arrives they need fresh oil and hydraulic fluids for a season full of trouble-free operation. As with the oil in your car, keeping those fluids from contaminating the water and the ground is important. Auto parts stores, marine supply shops and garages, and even major retailers throughout Illinois and Indiana will collect used oil and hydraulic fluids for recycling free of charge. Likewise, batteries that have been sitting for extended periods of time may need to be replaced, and the old batteries can be recycled at a number of stores. Many retailers will recycle your old battery for you when you purchase a new one from them.
Boats that have been stored for extended periods will usually need a good cleaning as well before taking them to the water. Before you get out the cleaning supplies or buy new ones, look into the many options available for biodegradable and environmentally friendly cleaning products. There are a wide range of safe and effective products that are natural or biodegradable, and they will keep your boat, trailer, and equipment looking great.