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  1. Taking advantage of water, one of the planet’s most precious resources, it’s important for boating companies to be aware of how it protects the environment as a whole. One way for your company to do this is to work to reduce its carbon footprint. Changes, both small and large, are necessary to ensure a sustainable future for this vital industry. No matter the size of your company, even incremental steps are important as you work with fellow owners to preserve a beautiful and safe world for generations to come. Here are a few changes you can make to help get you started. "> Move to Digital Records Many boating companies, especially smaller outfits, are not known for their outstanding technological prowess. This is a shame, though, as companies can reap ecological and economic benefits by moving to digital records and paperwork. By keeping contracts and records digitized, you minimize the need for paper records, resulting in fewer trees used and a smaller carbon footprint. Bonus points here if you’re able to power these digital solutions using renewable energy. Clean Regularly Water in general and saltwater specifically are not kind to the many components of your company’s fleet. Over time, this exposure can lead to the necessary replacement of these components to ensure proper operation of your fleet, moving forward. Unfortunately, replacing components, as necessary as it is, also increases your company’s carbon footprint as energy is required to create the new components. That’s why regular cleaning and maintenance of your existing fleet is crucial, as this will help everything from propellers to onboard electronics to hulls to last longer, thus ensuring you don’t have to replace components or entire watercraft nearly as often. Buy Quality In tandem with taking care of what you already have, it’s important to be careful about what you purchase when you do have to buy something new for your fleet. Substandard components could lead to a quick degradation in quality, regardless of how much time you spend on maintenance and cleaning. In the case of consumables like batteries, this relentless replacement cycle will cause your carbon footprint to quickly balloon out of control. By purchasing high-quality marine batteries and other components that are specifically designed for use on the water, however, you ensure that each component will provide many years of service. Alternative Energy One of the biggest contributors to your company’s carbon footprint is greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel you burn to power your boats. That’s why any investment you can make in alternative energy can have such a dramatic effect on your carbon footprint. One major source of energy that’s available in most seaborne contexts is wind. Though a fully wind-powered option likely isn’t practical for your particular needs, even small sails can trim your fuel use fairly dramatically. In the same way that a hybrid car helps to reduce emissions even though it still uses a traditional gasoline engine, a “hybrid boat” can help to reduce emissions whether you use a standard marine engine or opt for a more efficient model. Nothing is Futile As foreshadowed at the beginning of this article, the most important idea to remember as you seek to reduce your carbon footprint is that every little change matters. Though it may not seem like you can make much of a difference through small changes on your small fleet, when you combine these changes with the changes of other fleets, it quickly turns into a big impact that can truly make a dramatic difference. Therefore, work hard to do the best you can, trusting that it will serve as inspiration for others to follow suit.