While the topic of sustainability in yachting is gaining more traction all the time, it can be hard for individual crewmembers to know where to start when it comes to bringing more sustainable practices on board. This is the position Gemma Harris, chief stewardess on a 40-meter motor yacht, found herself in a few years ago.
“Having worked as yacht crew for the past eight years, I have witnessed firsthand the number of unsustainable practices that are in operation across the industry, but I felt very alone in the quest of driving change,” says Harris, founder of Seastainable Yachting. “Seastainable was partly born out of my frustration. I was spending so much of my time researching viable alternative products and ways of doing things onboard more sustainably that I found myself wishing for one place where I could access this information. If I had the support that Seastainable gives crew — the resources and the community of Seastainable ambassadors — back then, perhaps change would have felt a lot more achievable.”
Harris created the Seastainable platform to help yacht crew to change unsustainable practices and find eco-friendly products to use on board. The website provides just such resources to crew, with information that is specifically relevant to yachting and day-to-day operations. Seastainable also encompasses an online community, sustainability consultancy, and an ambassador program, all of which are aimed at ensuring that the oceans will be a clean and enjoyable place for a long time to come.
Harris also endeavors to join forces with yacht management companies and marine conservation charities to promote sustainability in the superyacht industry. Beyond raising awareness, the aim for Seastainable is to provide practical information so crew can make an immediate difference. “The problem is while a lot of crew may understand that the industry is unsustainable, they are unsure how they can individually make a difference for the better,” she says.
Harris notes that it’s imperative for a bottom-up approach from crew to truly make yachting sustainable. “While a lot of shipyards are improving sustainability from a build perspective, no one is properly looking at the operational side. For example, fast forward ten years down the line, the yacht could boast amazing advancements in renewable energy, but if the crew are still stocking up with plastic water bottles or various toxic cleaning products are still finding their way down drains, then sustainability hasn’t been achieved at all.”
Seastainable was launched near the end of 2019. Harris then spent 2020 collaborating with other sustainable businesses in yachting, building up her knowledge, and producing content and resources for crew. She did all this while also working full-time on board. She has big plans for growing the platform in 2021, one of them being the introduction of the “Shop Seastainable” marketplace, where crew can purchase eco-friendly products.
So far, the response from fellow crew has been positive and encouraging, says Harris, especially since the start of the COVID pandemic. “I think a lot more crew have had time to stop and think more about the impact we are having, and they also have more time to action various changes onboard,” she says.
If any crew are interested in joining the Seastainable Yachting ambassador program — or any sustainable businesses are interested in supplying the new marketplace — contact firstname.lastname@example.org.