Reusable covers reduce plastic waste and can be less expensive in the long run. Photo: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Md:”Think Before You Shrink” When Boat Winterizing

It comes every year with the change of seasons: boats all over the Chesapeake region get bundled up in their snug white shrink wrap for the cold months ahead. It’s a practical move, protecting your boat from the elements, but it creates large amounts of plastic waste every spring.

This year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking boaters and marinas to pursue a more environmentally-friendly boat cover material. Their new “Think Before you Shrink” campaign urges people to convert to reusable covers. It may even be more cost-effective, DNR says.

“Semi-custom, reusable covers are readily available for most small boats (under 30 feet) at about the same cost as two years of shrink wrap. The reusable covers last five to ten years and can be repaired or cleaned to extend their life,” DNR points out.

DNR is getting the word out to boaters through the Maryland Clean Marina Program, marinas, boatyards and yacht clubs. You can ask your marina or local marine store for help buying, cleaning or repairing a cover. The Marine Trades Association of Maryland (MTAM) website has a list of marinas and canvas workers.

The Clean Marina Program, which awards marinas for their voluntary efforts to protect the environment as well as for meeting legal requirements, is adding criteria to encourage businesses to promote reusable covers, and to properly recycle their shrink wrap in the spring.

Nearly 25 percent of Maryland’s estimated 600 marinas are already designated as Clean Marinas or Clean Marina Partners, and DNR hopes to keep increasing that number. To see which marinas participate, or find out more about Maryland Clean Marinas, visit

-Meg Walburn Viviano