Students launch second-hand kit sustainability project

Students at Durham University Sailing Club have launched a recycling project for second-hand kit in a bid to make the sport more accessible and sustainable.

Club members are appealing for sailors at local North East clubs – and at their home clubs across the country – to donate their old or outgrown sailing apparel, which can then be made available to students who would like to learn how to sail.

The project has been inspired by club’s involvement in The Green Blue’s ‘University Sailing Sustainability Challenge’, which encourages students to become more environmentally aware through a three-tier Bronze, Silver and Gold award scheme.

Durham University achieved its Silver Award in 2021-2 and as part of the criteria, responded to one of the challenges by looking ways to recycle old kit. As student Ruan Oliver explains: “We thought we’d make that a bigger project so that old kit could be re-used because we have a lot of interest from people wanting to sail with us.

“Over 100 students came to us at the start of the year to ask about joining the club and a lot of them were first-time sailors looking to get into the sport – but you need all the kit and we only have a certain number of places on the university sailing team. So we thought a good project would be to run some Level 1 and 2 dinghy courses and advertise for second-hand gear to help people get started. We want to make sailing more accessible and more affordable for newcomers.”

Ruan, who looks after sustainability for Durham University SC, adds that their existing members include a couple of RYA Senior Instructors and a number of Dinghy Instructors, and the club has its own boats at its home venue Derwent Reservoir SC: “We have the instructors, the boats and the water but it’s quite difficult to get people into suitable sailing gear and apart from this aspect we’re self-sufficient – it would be great if people were able to support us by donating their old kit to help us get more people on the water.”

Pilot project

If the appeal for pre-loved sailing kit at their local North East and home sailing clubs is successful, the club aims to launch its pilot project offering beginners’ sailing for students during the summer term. Wetsuits in particular are expensive to buy new and are oil intense products with low wearing usage, which are frequently replaced yet difficult to recycle. The project is also collecting boots, buoyancy aids and spray tops. Anyone able to support the students with their initiative is invited to get in touch by emailing Durham University Sailing Club.

RYA Sustainability Officer Olivia Wells said: “It’s fantastic to see Durham University taking the University Sailing Sustainabilty Challenge one step further by introducing this initiative, not only to continue on their own sustainability journey but to support and promote sustainability more widely through re-using equipment whilst aiding accessibility to sailing.”

The Green Blue is the joint environmental programme created by the Royal Yachting Association and British Marine to promote the sustainable use of coastal and inland waters by recreational boating.

The Green Blue’s University Sailing Sustainability Challenge recognises positive environmental actions, with activities ranging from raising awareness about Green Blue campaigns, to eliminating single use plastics and undertaking environmental audits.

If you are a student that would like to nominate your university to take part in next year’s Challenge or a member of a club interested in learning how you can make your activities more sustainable, visit the ‘Get Involved’ pages on The Green Blue website or follow The Green Blue on Facebook, Twitter @TheGreenBlue and Instagram: @the_green_blue #GreenBlueUniChallenge.

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