How eco-refill stations can help keep our waters clean with: Boatfolk

Blackwater and greywater in marinas

Grey and black water are two of the largest contaminants promulgated by our global boating community. Effluents from cleaning products, sewage and personal care products often end up in our waters as a result of being pumped from boats. This adds various chemicals to our waters and can overload ecosystems with non-native nutrients, resulting in eutrophication (depletion of oxygen content in our waters) and in some cases, disease. 

We spoke with Boatfolk and Ecoworks Marine about how their partnership to provide eco-products to marina users is aiming to help tackle the impact of greywater at source.

At boatfolk we’re passionate about protecting our oceans and doing what we can to drive positive change. Part of this includes empowering our community of boaters to make environmentally friendly choices by making these easily accessible. In this spirit, in 2021 we installed the first of our EcoWorks Marine refill stations, offering sustainable cleaning products for boaters at Portland Marina.

We chose to start with Portland as it is one of our sites with the largest berth holder community, as well as welcoming many visitors during the summer months. This makes it the ideal spot for both gauging the demand for sustainable cleaning alternatives and maximising the positive impact of the refill station.

A refill station is a great way for us to contribute to the reduction of single-use plastics which we all know have a detrimental effect on our planet. EcoWorks Marine were chosen as our partner to deliver this due to their alignment with our own values, championing eco-friendly alternatives created with boaters in mind. They’re also a co-founding partner of Cleaner Marinas so it a natural fit for us to work together. It was important for us to provide customers with a practical and sustainable alternative to products they were already buying.


Ecoworks refill station in Boatfolk marina


In terms of increasing the use of the refill station we know that there is work to be done to raise awareness and drive uptake in the upcoming boating season. Not all customers are aware that our refill station exists, or which products they could be replacing with a more sustainable alternative when the time comes to restock. On top of this there is a need for education on how these products work, as they won’t always react in the exact same way than their harsher more chemical counterparts. We’ve found that customers need some time to get used to them after making the switch so informing them of what to expect can be helpful in aiding that adjustment.

In the future we plan to roll out these EcoWorks refill stations across more of our marinas to give as many boaters as possible access to these more sustainable alternatives. We’re also hoping that as our boatfolk community visit other marinas than our own, and as visitors come across these stations at our locations that the demand for refill stations at other marinas and chandleries starts rising too. We hope that in a few years refill stations become the norm in our industry.