Clean Regatta Volunteer Work

Something that I have been involved with this year is helping to prepare from Charleston Race Week with Clean Regattas. Clean Regattas is an organization that encourages regattas to practice sustainability to protect our oceans. You can register a regatta and form a green team on the Clean Regattas website. I sail for the college, and am a Sustainable Urbanism major with a Sustainability minor, so this event was interesting to me in many ways.

Charleston Race Week is the biggest keelboat regatta in America, hosted here in Charleston, and is sponsored by Sperry. Charleston Race Week is now in its 21st year (the regatta was established in 1996). In 2006, Charleston Race Week drew entries from as far away as England, Canada, Michigan, and California, with more than 70 percent of the competitors arriving from out of town. The story was much the same in 2007 and 2008, with increased numbers of participants each year. The event has grown by an average of 15 percent in recent years and evolved to become the largest keelboat regatta in the Western Hemisphere.

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Clean regattas is the world’s only sustainability certification for water-based events.
Over 1,000 regattas, gams, rallies and cruises have registered as Clean Regattas. One part education, two parts activation, the program unites and mobilizes sailors by offering support and resources to help conserve and protect the ocean.

Working with Clean Regattas, you are part of a green team that is dedicated to sustainability. You assess, begin, and follow through on clean regatta initiatives. You then document these initiatives. Some initiatives include:

  1. Paperless regattas- going paperless for your regatta registrations and Notice of Race, and prioritizing paper communications.
  2. Reduce plastic water bottles- provide or encourage the use of reusable water bottles (On average, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour and many of them end up in the landfill, or worse, your local waterway.)
  3. Responsible dinnerware- most regattas will provide a mean for their participants, and clean regattas encourages regattas to utilize responsible dinnerware that can be composted or recycled.
  4. More responsible awards- Regatta trophies can be very energy-intensive to create and often end up sitting on a dusty shelf somewhere, so regattas are encouraged to find alternative trophy options.
  5. Good Waste Management- Well-labeled bins and volunteers to help point people in the right direction are paramount to an event having good waste management.
  6. Toxic-free Cleaning- You can request all participants limit their impact on local water quality by using “water only washdowns” (“WOW!”) at the end of racing. After most sailboat racing, competitors will wash salty water or other substances off of their boats (its bad for the boat if you leave it on there) and use harsh chemicals that usually run into the water. Hull scrubbing can lead to the build up of toxic chemicals in your local waters as well as the potential introduction of invasive species.
  7. Efficient Power Boats- You can request that regattas utilize lightweight, fuel-efficient rigid inflatable boats (RIBs). These boats use carbon fiber and weigh a third of the weight of a normal RIB, while using only 20 percent of the fuel.
  8. Trash cleanup- you also can go through the regatta site and clean up trash after the event.


Sailors for the Sea is the world’s leading conservation organization that engages, educates, inspires and activates the sailing and boating community toward healing the ocean. Their global affiliates help expand this mission across the globe. They work in places from Japan, to Portugal, to the US.

Extra Credit Post Media

Last week, we briefly discussed in class how 6 or so companies own and control 90+% of the media in the United States. This is alarming, because this small group controls almost all of the news and coverage that the American population receives on a regular basis. This is called media consolidation, and this is affecting the US more and more as fewer people amass more of the medias power.

A graphic about media consolidation can be found here:

Environmentally speaking, this cal be alarming. In between fake news, and only getting most of our news from such a small amount of sources, it can be hard to figure out what is true and what is fake. Because the people who fund these companies usually get to control what media is released, there is worry about how transparent the media we are served really is. This can concerning environmentally because if someone is rich enough and does not believe in man’s role in climate change and global warming, they potentially could feed millions of people information that makes them believe similar falsities. Problems could arise from this, especially if the general population began to not believe in climate change and its consequences, and the majority of people stopped any green practices such as recycling that they do to lessen their footprint. This would cause a multitude of social and environmental problems across the globe. This could also become a problem because most people do not do research on what they read, or the sources that post them, to begin with. Not doing such research could allow for these 6 companies to influence the public to believe pretty much anything, and also cover up things that they do not want the pubic to find out about. About 15 people own the United States media, and this consolidation gives these few a lot of power.  The graphic above states that 232 media executives control the information that 277 million Americans consume on a regular basis.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 allowed for this consolidation to happen. It allowed for mergers of media companies, and was substantially paid for by corporate media lobbies. This act allowed for media corporations to consolidate into the small number that they are today (for example,  how Disney umbrellas to own ABC, ESPN, Pixar, and many other smaller corporations). It is alarming that one company has so much power, and essentially control, over the American population and the information that we receive.


When greenwashing was introduced in class, I have to admit that I had never heard about it before. After doing some research online, I found that greenwashing was a lot more complex that I originally thought. I thought that greenwashing only pertained to food, stating that it was “all natural”, ect. What surprised me is that it can affect all kinds of products that we buy. I found an article online (which can be found here: ) that discusses how Walmart has to pay $1 million to “settle greenwashing claims that allege the nation’s largest retailer sold plastic products that were misleadingly labeled “biodegradable” or “compostable” in violation of California law” (Hardcastle, “Greenwashing” Costing Walmart $1 Million). It doesnt fully surprise me that things like this happen, but I did not consider how it actually was greenwashing. It is sad to me how the populace is pretty much being lied to about not only what they are eating, but also many other products that we purchase on a regular basis. When we buy things that are marketed as biodegradable, we believe that they will eventually biodegrade and not have such a negative on the environment. The article discusses how using the term biodegradable is misleading because almost nothing biodegrades in landfills (Hardclastle). As I continued to research this topic online, I found out that in California, where this lawsuit took place, it is illegal to sell plastic advertised as biodegradable without an attached disclaimer that states how long it takes to decompose.

Learning about greenwashing will definitely change the way that I look at shopping as a whole. I feel like it is definitely worth doing your research if you but products that are made to seem more ecofriendly than they really are, especially if it makes them more expensive. If you care about the environment enough to take the extra step or spend the extra dollar on trying to make less of a negative impact on the planet, it is worth your time to go online and see if you’re getting what you think you’re buying.

As I learned more about greenwashing, it made me wonder how my hometown grocery stores were affected by this topic. Being from upstate New York, I definitely prefer a grocery store called Wegman’s (they don’t have any locations even close to Charleston, sadly). Looking into Wegman’s, I was thankful to learn how sustainable and green their practices really are. I was hesitant to believe everything I read from the first sites that I went to, but as I continued my search, I found that Wegman’s really is an ecofriendly business. When they advertise something as local, it truly is local. I learned how they work with farms across New York state and the surrounding states to provide their customers with local and sustainable goods. By working closely with their growers and responding to the demand of their customers, Wegman’s claims to believe in adding to its sustainable practices through keeping the farms they buy from productive year round. I know that this is a topic that we discussed in class, talking about how farmers can grow different crops at different times of the year to keep their lands productive while also producing better in-season produce. I feel like this is especially important in areas such as upstate NY, because our seasons are so extreme. It is beneficial for the farmers in that area, because they can grow crops that need warmth in the warmer months, and then grow crops that can withstand the cold (One of which I learned was baby leaf greens). This makes it possible for the farmers to make a profit, while also providing customers with a constant supply of local, in-season produce.

Learning this information was reassuring because I can know that when I am buying “organic” or “local” food at home, I can be at least a little bit more confident that I am getting what I pay for. Since what I learned mostly pertained to produce, I would have to do more research about other Wegman’s brand products, but after today I definitely believe that it would be worth it. I would 100% recommend looking into your own local grocers and see if they are being up front about how green their products really are, because there is a good chance that you will be surprised by what you find. I feel like I got lucky with the results of my search, and can see myself looking further into stores like Bi-Lo and Harris Teeter before I go shopping while I am down here at school.

Gasland / Gasland II

Recently I have watched a two part documentary about fracking called Gasland.

This documentary focused on one man who lived on land that companies wanted to frack on. They offered him money and hounded him about allowing them to frack on his land. When this was going on, he set out across the country (mostly in the west) to see what he could dig up about fracking.

The things that he found out were extremely alarming. Understanding how fracking can be seen as beneficial (technically easier to extract natural resources while providing usually technically economic benefits for small towns) still does not justify its negative impacts. This documentary showed many environmental and social impacts that fracking has on the communities that it borders on. Environmentally, fracking is alarming. It involves forcing water, sand, and a multitude of chemicals under the ground to force natural gas and oil to the surface. These chemicals are often unregulated, and find their way into the environment. Runoff of these chemicals are shown to be stored in shallow man-made ponds that are lined by nothing stronger than a tarp to keep the chemicals from leaking back into the ground. Fracking can also cause seismic activity. (This is currently important because there have been large earthquakes in the midwest lately, but a large one was during the election on the same day that Trump said yet another ridiculous thing – so it took the media’s attention away from the earthquakes- subsequently causing a lack of coverage so it was not as big of a story as it should have been)

Socially, fracking is shown to cause a lot of problems. These documentaries showed how people in the midwest had their tap water polluted by fracking companies, and how it was both undrinkable as well as flammable. It showed how people were able to turn there water on and then light it on fire. It caused illnesses and conditions in people who drank it and were unaware that it was contaminated. Fracking also caused fumes that made people sick. Another thing it did was (because a lot of people in the midwest raise cattle) was kill or cause illness in those cattle. These factors drove people from their land, even if the fracking was not going on directly on their property.

From these two films, I have learned a lot more about fracking. Even though it has the potential to wean the US off of our dependency on foreign oil, the destruction it causes is not worth it. Fracking companies fight hard with very powerful lawyers to protect themselves as well as deny any responsibility for the environmental and social damages that they cause. They hide what they are actually doing, and in the film, they refused the man who was making these documentaries from filming a lot of what was actually going on both near the rigs as well as in the courtroom. Overall, I believe that we should end fracking and place both the monetary aspect as well as our energy as a nation into focusing on renewable resources.

Our Oceans

Yesterday’s lecture that incorporated discussions on overfishing in our oceans really struck a chord with me. Even as someone who cares about the environment, this topic has (I regret to admit) slipped from my mind recently. I actually wrote a paper for my writing class last year about overfishing in our oceans, but since then I have not stayed up to date on this idea. Moving to Charleston from upstate NY, the ocean is a lot closer to home now than it ever has been before. After class on Tuesday, it occurred to me that now more than ever before, in these especially uncertain times, how the future of our oceans (and the environment in general) is at risk. The fact of the matter is, our new president views climate change as a “hoax”. I actually found a great blog post from National Geographic that discusses the transfer of power, the environmental policy of our old and new presidents, and the future of the oceans.

It can be found here:

Per the assignment, I guess this subject matter falls under the category of a “current event”, but I think it is important to take the environmental crisis in our oceans especially, and look at both its past and future. Before we are able to make drastic changes to save our oceans, we have to directly regard both the mistakes we have made in the past as well as both the repercussions and possibilities for the future ahead.

If you have not heard of the algae blooms in nearby regions, I especially recommend that you read the article in the link that I posted. The areas having these environmental problems are not far away from Charleston at all. The best way that we can prevent further environmental issues is by educating ourselves and taking action. The more you know, the more good you can do!