Going Green, Doesn’t Have to Put You in the Red and You can Grow Your SDI Business Too!
By Mark Milburn of Atlantic Scuba
There are many things that can be done to help the environment. Whether it is just switching from plastic straws to paper straws, or just simple recycling. All these have a cost, whether it is more expensive straws or the time to sort the recycling. Whilst these are quite minimal costs to inflict on a business, they are worthwhile. There are ways of ‘going green’, that can earn money and at the same time provide an opportunity to promote SDI.
Underwater litter picks. These take a little time to organise but are basically an escorted dive. Whilst this may cost you the time of a dive master or two, they are potentially a source of income. This sort of event will attract divers of all levels. Less experienced divers may not have any equipment, so you can rent the equipment to them. Divers with equipment will need gas fills, either before or after the dive. It is a great opportunity to introduce other divers to your centre, a source of new customers. Some will come and see you out of curiosity, some will come because it is a good reason to dive. It is then up to you to convert them.
Ghost fishing gear removal. Whilst this is not as simple as litter picking, it is good for the environment and potentially good for publicity. It is an ‘in thing’ at the moment. Removing old fishing nets and pots reduces the pointless loss of marine life and marine litter. It is probably not a good idea to accept unknown volunteer divers, use your known experienced divers. It’s not complicated, just be safe.
Wildlife recording dives. There is always a group somewhere, wanting to record something. Whether this is from the boat of the shore. They may want to record sea grass species, study Mearl or sea mammals. You can encourage your regular divers to take part, some will jump at the chance to do something different. You may even want to create your own study locally, as an ongoing project. Ongoing project, ongoing diving.
Wildlife releases. These are rare but worth getting involved with. Some species, like lobsters, are more successfully released by divers. Locations need to be varied, so a possibility of a range of boat dive locations. Divers can get real satisfaction in releasing young species into the wild.
These are all worthwhile projects to get involved with, they can all create extra business. Someone once said to me, “never miss a trick”, this is something I have tried to adhere to. The biggest trick here, is to tell people about what you are going to do and what you have done. Tell the local press, up to two weeks before your event. This may bring you more participants. Tell them what you are doing, why and when. It may not go into print, it may just go online, an excellent chance to share it online. When the event is over, tell everyone how successful it was, including the press again. All publicity is good publicity.
Our most financially rewarding underwater litter pick involved seventeen full equipment hires, ten air fills as well as two newspaper press releases. One litter pick created an interest with the local BBC TV, we appeared on the local TV news, then national news, then world service. It was the second most read BBC online article that week too. Our website unique hits the day it happened was 120,000. One of our ghost net removals, was filmed by the BBC and shown on a National BBC program, it had 6.4 million viewers.
Going green doesn’t have to put you in the red. We can use grow SDI and save the planet at the same time!