Fall in love with a sustainable Broads National Park

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With Valentine’s Day on its way and spring just around the corner it’s that time of year when people start to fall in love with the Broads National Park. However, all too often visitors enjoy the scenery before them and forget the damage that they might be leaving behind. We know that you want to leave the Broads as you found it (or better) so we’ve devised this quick guide to going green in the Broads National Park… so that you can fall in love again and again!

The Green Boat Mark

Broads Tours © James Bass
Broads Tours are one of the companies in the Broads with the Green Boat Mark © James Bass

To make your boat hire choice a whole lot easier (and more sustainable) the Broads Authority has established the Green Boat Mark. The scheme has been running since 2011 and is the first eco-accreditation scheme for motor cruisers in Europe. Boats are graded on 25 different criteria including sewage water disposal, use of phosphate-free cleaning products and information given to customers, making this a scheme that you can trust. So look out for that green mark! There's also now plenty of choice when it comes to electric day boats, with companies such as Broads Tours, Barnes Brinkcraft and Richardson's offering more environmentally friendly options.

Shop sustainably

Faith at the Green Lady Eco Store
Faith is available at the Green Lady Eco Store

There are loads of really amazing businesses in the Broads National Park who make it their responsibility to care for the environment and by using them you can support their sustainable ethos. The Green Lady Eco Store is one such example; they sell an array of products which are ethically sourced and free from ‘chemical cocktails’, they stock cool products such as Old Norse Balms and Oils (based in Norwich), Faith in Nature and Badger Balm

Other ethically minded Broads businesses include: Broadland Cycle Hire (the perfect eco day out!), Mill Farm Eco Barn (an eco place to stay), Wroxham Barns and BeWILDerwood (for eco family fun).

Don't forget that once you've used up a product you should recycle the packaging if appropriate and remember not to litter. There are a number of refuse sites in towns, villages and cities throughout the Broads and also at the Yacht Stations, so you really don't have an excuse!

Put the wind in your sails

Sailing © Julian Claxton
Powered by wind © Julian Claxton

Motor cruisers might be the most popular boating option on the Broads but don’t forget that sailing boats are available too. With a sailing boat you’re closer to the water, learning a new skill and are pioneering the eco way! Whether you’d be learning from the start or are already an old hand, look into sail-boat hire companies for inspiration.

Possible sailing boat companies include: Sailing Yacht Charter, Eastwood Whelpton, Martham Boats and Waterways Holidays. Check out our sailing listings for many more.

If you want to find out more about sailing, look out for details of the Broads Sailing Festival coming up in June.

Washing up in the Broads

Ecover refill station at the Green Lady Eco Store
The Green Lady Eco Store offer a refill station for Ecover products

We can all make a decision on the brand of cleaning product that we use when we’re boating on the Broads. The cleaning products that you do your washing up with go straight into the river system so using harsh chemicals such as bleach is an ecological no-no! Try to use phosphate-free detergents and washing-up liquids to do your bit for water quality. 

Check out brands such as: ECOlogical, Ecover and Bio-D, many of which can be found at the Green Lady Eco Store in Moulton St Mary.

For the sheer hull of it

How Hill © Julian Claxton
Excessive wash can erode riverside banks © Julian Claxton

One way to make an environmental difference whatever vessel you might be on is to choose one with a low wash hull. The size and shape of the hull can make an enormous difference to the impact of the craft upon the riverbank, with badly designed hulls leading to serious erosion with regular use. Short full bows give high boat waves, while longer finer bows reduce this effect. If you can't avoid using a vessel with a high wash hull, then being cautious with your speed is another thing you might wish to consider...

Take it slow

Motor cruiser on the Broads © Julian Claxton
When the view is this good, why the hurry? © Julian Claxton

Speed is incredibly detrimental to the crucial riverbanks along the Broads. The wash causes erosion and can also be disturbing to other boaters and wildlife. There are clear speed limits indicated along the river systems to guide boat users as to their maximum speed. If there was ever a location perfect for taking it easy, then the Broads National Park would be it, so what’s the rush?

There’s lots you can do to make a difference to the places you love, and these are just a few simple tweaks to help you do your bit. Because a Broads National Park which is well looked after is a Broads National Park you can return to again and again.