State Street Marathon Sailing

Small Footprint, Big Impact

Driving Sustainability On and Off the Boat

April 2021

According to research by The Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ, a London-based sustainability consultancy, 11 million metric tons of plastic are put into the ocean each year.

For comparison, that is equivalent to more than 183 Empire State Buildings. These numbers are only expected to grow.

Our State Street Marathon Sailing team sees firsthand the impact that plastic pollution is having on our world’s oceans. They witness the rising levels of plastic and general debris even when far at sea. Jesse shared, “As sailors and human beings, it’s a hard sight to see.” Using this knowledge, they are committed to minimizing their footprint both on and off the boat and encourage others to join them.

Powered by Sustainability

Sailing, by nature, is powered by sustainable energy — water and wind. It’s also powered by the strength, bravery and determination of the sailors. Jesse and Francesca channel their passion not only into races, but also toward a more sustainable world.

Many of the smaller devices aboard the ship are battery powered, which can contain harmful chemicals that contribute to water and air pollution. To reduce single-use batteries, the team uses rechargeable battery packs for as much equipment as possible. They are also exploring more advanced ways to make Fearless, the State Street Sailing boat, more sustainable by leveraging the power of natural resources including solar and water energy. The team has even started using a hydroelectric generator, which uses the water moving past the turbine like a windmill to power devices on the boat, and are looking to expand its use.

Jesse has taken the notion of being powered by sustainable energy even further by fueling himself with a plant-based diet. For several years, the United Nations’ (UN) climate report has noted the heavy impacts of the meat industry on the environment. Most recently, a 2021 report from Chatham House, supported by the UN, encourages plant-based eating as a way to reduce food demand and pressures on the land.

“The UN’s report really impacted my decision to try a plant-based diet to lessen my footprint on the environment,” said Jesse. “Since making the switch, I’ve seen a positive difference in my overall health and training practices. My oxygen levels have increased, which has helped improve my joint pain and inflammation and it has decreased my recovery time from workouts.”

Recycling More than Just Energy

As a team, Jesse and Francesca pay close attention to the products they use and bring on to the boat — and are working to make the boat itself more sustainable by nature.

As such, Jesse and Francesca have adopted, “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle” as key tenets on the boat. They avoid single-use plastic and aim to re-use and repurpose the products they already have. “A broken boat part doesn’t have to go straight into the trash,” said Jesse. “We try to find another purpose for these items to reduce our waste.”

Sustainability on Land

“To thrive at sea and compete at the highest level, we have had to learn pivotal lessons from the ocean,” said Jesse. “Now the ocean needs us to pay it back with action and education.”

Jesse believes that anyone can adopt these practices into their daily lives and routines, even in small ways.  

Perhaps easiest of them all is for individuals to use their spending power to support products and companies that are sustainably sourced and manufactured. Jesse uses the Gotbag, a backpack made with plastic pellets from ocean plastic, and Sea2Sea eyewear, which is made from similar materials. There are plenty of other products available. Another step is to replace single-use plastics with reusable products, such as water bottles or silicone storage bags. For those interested in exploring a plant-based diet, Jesse would recommend starting with meatless Mondays and adding more vegetables to one’s diet as a first step.

As we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, Jesse and Francesca encourage everyone to do their part in creating a healthier world.