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Our Green Story: Wreckspeditions


Wreckspeditions is run by myself and partner Jason Coles. We offer scuba diving trips and powerboat trips from our base in the Holy Loch Marina in Dunoon. We also have a shop and training centre at the marina from which we currently offer RYA powerboat training and BSAC seamanship courses and hopefully, soon we will be able to offer scuba diving training. We are also an RYA joining centre.

Environmental fails
An integral part of our business is our boat which has a huge engine powered by unleaded fuel. This is plainly not environmentally friendly. We also currently have a 14-year-old diesel-powered 4x4 which is even worse. However, originally this was essential for our business as we needed to tow our heavy boat! Our original business model was that we would drive to any site in the UK where our customers wanted to dive. This meant that we had to tow the boat huge distances. But we are both eco people at heart and so we knew we had to up our game to offset some of these environmental impacts.

Environmental wins
We decided to move to the coast and permanently base the boat in the water so we no longer have to tow it. We’re now considering an electric van to replace the 4x4. When our boat engine was new, we had to stick to a very strict servicing regime to comply with the warranty. We have stuck to this even outside the warranty period which not only improves the safety of our operation, but it means the engine runs more efficiently and it reduces the risk of us polluting the sea with oils and fuel. And, we get both our car and boat engine serviced by a mechanic who is based next door to us in the marina.

Surveying scallops off the Arran coast

Our Green Tourism journey
However, we still weren’t satisfied that we were doing all we could to care for and protect the environment. In December 2020, I stumbled across the Green Tourism award scheme so I took their free online GreenCheckTM quiz to see how we were doing. Well, I thought we were doing better than your average person/ company… however, this scheme opens up a whole new world! We were given resources to study including Ethical Consumer and directed to wholesale suppliers such as Ethical Superstore.

Depending on your business type, your application for the Green Tourism award is scored on a variety of different factors such as:

• Energy use
• Inclusivity
• Environmental products
• Cleaning products
• Merchandise
• Teamwork
• And more importantly, your attitude and willingness to change and adapt how you currently do things.

You get a dedicated assessor who guides you through your journey and listens to your concerns and issues if something doesn’t fit your company.

There is not always one solution and this will become clear as I tell you what we learnt. Our main concern going into this award was that we had heard that by 2050, there would be more plastic in the ocean than fish. This really is not great news. As divers, we love nothing more than seeing and appreciating the incredible ecosystems living in our waters, and plastic pollution is doing devastating things to them.

So what did we learn on our journey?

Toilet roll
Did you know you can buy toilet roll that is made in the UK out of kerbside waste? This is the waste paper that you put in your recycling bins. This means that no trees are cut down specifically to make this product.

There are currently three companies who make this type of toilet roll in the UK and OK, it’s not quite as soft and luxurious as the double quilted range, but I guarantee it is better than most of the other recycled toilet roll you have tried. We have also found that two of the three brands are sold right here in Dunoon, which is perfect as it supports another local business.

Of all the changes we have made along the way, this is my favourite. It was such a simple change to make and yet, it feels like you make such a big difference. If you only take away one thing with you today, please try this.

Cleaning product refills
We also learned about cleaning products that were better for the environment, both in terms of the ingredients that they use to ensure they do not harm the environment and also the companies’ ethical and environmental ethos. The most ethical brands are also making it easier to cut down on plastic by having refill stations across the UK. We are very lucky to have a refill shop in Dunoon that stocks some of the most ethical and environmentally friendly brands. So we have made the change to these where we can.

Showing that 'green' can be done with eco-friendly products 


Tea and coffee suppliers
As I mentioned before, when we started this journey we were primarily concerned with the levels of plastic that was finding its way into our oceans. Due to this, we had already swapped to PG Tips teabags as they had stopped using plastic in their tea bag sealing process. However, on our Green Tourism journey, we found that we had to make some very difficult decisions and trade-offs. When researching tea suppliers on Ethical Consumer, PG Tips scored very poorly (0.5 out of 17). So despite them having no plastic in their tea bags, we knew we needed to consider changing suppliers to one that was much higher rated.

Café Direct has a much higher score (14 out of 17) but the trade-off for us is that they still use plastic in their sealing process. However, their company ethos is superior, they sell wholesale and they do not use plastic in their packaging.

We went through the same process for our coffee and hot chocolate suppliers and have made a switch to Café Direct for these too. Feedback from our customers has been really positive so far, so the switch certainly hasn’t been detrimental to our service.

Bamboo cups
Not only do we provide hot drinks in the training centre, we provide them on our diving and boat trips. We knew right from the start we were not going to use single-use cups on the boat, so we originally bought plastic travel cups to use which have lasted us four years. This year, we decided to upgrade to bamboo cups which are far more colourful. However, these were too brittle to be used on the boat and after only two weeks, most of them were cracked or chipped and we had to go back to the four-year-old plastic cups. So we are back to the drawing board to find something more suitable to replace our plastic cups with. Any suggestions, gratefully received!

Shop counter and sign
Our shop counter was made by a local carpenter out of scrap material he found lying around his home. It was made to our specification and we are proud of how it has turned out. He even finished it with a burnt wood finish to match our reclaimed crate shelving.

For our shop sign, we didn’t want to use plastic or vinyl if at all possible. We were looking at using wood or maybe cork. However, when working with the local signwriter, he pointed out whilst measuring up that there was an existing sign board in the mount and that it had already been printed on one side with the previous occupant’s details. It suddenly didn’t make any sense to remove this board and dump it in landfill, so we worked with the signwriter to see if it was possible to print on the reverse. This is not ideal as the finish isn’t perfect and we have had a few bubbles in the printing that have needed to be repaired. However, you can’t see these from afar and we feel better knowing we have used this particular piece of plastic as much as is possible.

Jason shows off the upcycled shop counter


Cardboard bins
This is my favourite product we purchased! We did not want to introduce yet more plastic into the environment, even though bins are not single-use plastic and can be reused as other things if not being used as a bin. So after some research, we found a company that designed and manufactured cardboard ones in the UK. They come flat-packed from an environmentally friendly supplier who has a similar ethos to us. Thanks to the research materials we were provided by our Green Tourism assessor, we also found bin bags that were infused with oxygen and although this is not a perfect alternative, they are meant to biodegrade much quicker than normal bin bags. However, we also only use bin bags in the general waste bin and we wash them out and reuse them where we can to reduce our plastic waste.

Environmentally friendly merchandise is really difficult to find. However, we did manage to find some wheat straw pens. Wheat straw is the stalk that is left over when grains are harvested and is a by-product of the food manufacturing process. These pens therefore reduce the amount of plastic that is used.

As for clothing, we found a UK company that can digitally print clothing without using plastic ink. This company also uses 100% organic cotton garments and has a circular economy which means that when your clothing is worn out, you send it back to them and they make new products from it. They also don’t use any plastic in their packaging and they introduced us to paper tape, instead of Sellotape or parcel tape which has a vegetable-based glue and a cool ocean design. Using this means all your packaging can then be recycled.

Eco-friendly merch!


So is this type of merchandise more expensive and is it any better quality? Well, some items are more expensive. Although we have found, especially our clothing is of much better quality and much softer than our old stuff. It also lasts longer as there is no plastic to peel off or get damaged by washing or ironing. For us, it is a trade-off for being able to enjoy a better future.

As part of our Green Tourism journey we had to demonstrate how we worked with other organisations to combine our environmental efforts. This was not difficult as we love getting involved in other projects and causes, especially if they involve diving! For example:

Arran Coast: to facilitate seabed surveys in the Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) and the No Take Zones around Arran.

Seasearch: carrying out seabed and marine life surveys of all our dive sites to monitor changes.

Claire on Seasearch Seabed Surveys duty


Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Argyll Beach Cleanups: we arrange informal and formal (recorded) beach cleans in Dunoon and surrounding beaches. Jason set up an Argyll Beach Cleanups Facebook page soon after moving to Dunoon which encourages organised groups and also individuals to go out and clean sections of beach. This has been highly popular with over 330 members who regularly post photos of all the rubbish they have cleaned up.

Ghost Fishing UK: This is my proudest teamwork event. We alerted Ghost Fishing UK to a large amount of lost fishing gear on one of the shipwrecks in the Clyde. The issue with this is not only the damage this causes to these historic wrecks, but lost fishing gear can trap marine life and leave plastic in the sea. On this occasion, the Ghost Fishing team retrieved several creels (lobster pots) and rope which were in a good enough condition to be reused. We were able to give this back to one of the local fishing boats so they could reuse or recycle them, which not only saves them money but also saves the gear from going to landfill and also prevents any future marine life entrapment and prevents plastic pollution in the sea.

The Ghost Fishing crew


Once we had presented all this information and photos in our Green Tourism assessment, we were delighted to achieve a Silver Green Tourism Award in March 2021. This did mean we had some work to continue to reach Gold, but we are determined to get there.

And that determination paid off as in March 2023, after working really hard, we achieved our Gold Green Tourism Award and we couldn’t be happier.

As part of the journey, we also picked up some other awards and accreditations:

Tourism Declares: We joined forces with 377 other organisations to declare a climate emergency and work together for a better future.

Marine Conservation Society: We received a Sea Champions large beach cleaning kit to encourage Dunoon to carry out more beach cleaning activities.

WiSe (Wildlife Safe Scheme): We both completed the UK’s national training scheme for minimising disturbance to marine wildlife whilst out on the water. This course provided us with a better understanding of the different species we encounter, allowing us to be able to identify species and understand their behaviours. We can now share this knowledge with our customers who love seeing and hearing about the wildlife we encounter whilst out on our trips.

Ghost Fishing UK: We both completed the Ghost Fishing UK training course which – as I mentioned above - allows us to survey sites underwater that contain lost fishing gear.

And to prove that being a good customer-focused business does not need to conflict with being a business good to the environment, we have recently been awarded a 5-star rating from Visit Scotland and for the fourth year running, we have been awarded the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Award.

This shows that our customers are on board with our mission, and we are grateful to all of them for helping us through this journey.


Find out more at Wreckspeditions

... and on Facebook 


Braving the weather for a beach clean