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Environmental Conservation

Nauticus is passionate about the preservation and conservation of our natural resources and marine environment. As a River Star Model Level Business and a certified Virginia Green attraction, Nauticus is committed to minimizing it’s environmental impacts by preventing pollution wherever feasible in it’s operations and educating the public on the importance of green practices through programs, exhibits and events.

Nauticus has received many awards and recognitions for our green initiatives such as:

Most Innovative Green Projects award by the Virginia Green Travel Alliance in April 2019 for the installation of the Seabins program.

3- Star Level Sustained Distinguished Performance RiverStar Business by the Elizabeth River Project in 2021 & 2024.

Nauticus Youth Volunteers

Nauticus is proud to present our Youth Action Council, a group made of some of our most senior and dedicated Discovery Crew volunteers. The members began their career at Nauticus as part of the Discovery Crew, where they spoke to and educated thousands of guests over their time here. Throughout the year, they lead programs and educate visitors about ecology, environmental stewardship, naval history, and technology. As part of the YAC, members plan and lead community clean-ups around Nauticus’ campus, as well as participate in the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit in the winter. They have won awards for their clean-ups from the Elizabeth River Project when participating in their Youth Resiliency Expo. Join our Discovery Crew to help expand and make concrete changes to the community.

Our volunteers have educated thousands of museums guests about environmental conservation, climate change, and different ways they can take action at home. They have also been a driving force behind craft preparation as they help collect, create, and organize all of the recycled craft materials.

Interested in becoming a volunteer? Learn more.

Nauticus Seabins

Through a partnership with Warstila Defense, Inc., Nauticus has installed the first Seabin units on the East Coast.

Seabin, a floating trash bin located in the water at marinas, docks, yacht clubs and commercial ports, collect floating trash by drawing in water from the surface. Using low-energy submersible pumps, the water is then pumped back into the marina, leaving litter and debris trapped in the Seabin’s catch bag to be disposed of properly. The bins also have the potential to collect some of the oils and pollutants floating on the water’s surface.

Maintained by Nauticus Education Staff, volunteers and the Youth Action Council, the Seabin will contribute to the health of the waterway by cleaning as much as one ton of litter from the river each year. The three Seabin units are open to the public for viewing at the Nauticus Marina.

Nauticus has collected over 8,500+ items since this program started in 2018. This data is collected and submitted to the Seabin Project and Ocean Conservancy through Marine Debris Tracker (

Nauticus Green Team

Starting in March, 2023, Nauticus kicked off its Green Team to involve Nauticus staff, volunteers, members, board, and community partners to become environmental stewards for our Nauticus organization as well as within our downtown Norfolk community. This is a year-round project that all members can take part in to help our local environment. Some of our projects include: more digital paperwork, personal department onsite recycling, Seabins, refillable water bottle stations, NextTrek benches, and hosting Community Cleanup Events.

Sail Nauticus

Sail Nauticus, a program of the Nauticus Foundation, develops leadership and academic success through the art and science of sailing to underserved youth in Hampton Roads. Sail Nauticus programs includes Sail Academy, Schooner Virginia, sailing memberships, skills clinics, group outings, summer camps, and more. In the School Year, 2022-2023, 140 Norfolk Public Schools Students in grades 6-8 participated in the Sail Academy program every Monday-Thursday after school to practice communication, teamwork, and leadership skills, all while learning how to sail. For their environmental focus projects, they built a mobile pollinator garden from recycled trash cans and a rowboat built by prior Academy students, cleaned up marine debris from the river by boat and docks, used energy efficient wind power and electric motors while sailing around the Elizabeth River, and encouraged healthy eating habits with less trash production with serving fruit instead of snack bags and using refillable water bottles/stations.

Current Exhibits – Stewards of the Sea

In partnership with the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and Nauticus, U.S. Fleet Forces Command has created Stewards of the Sea: Defending Freedom, Protecting the Environment. This 1,000-square-foot, highly-interactive exhibit explores how the Navy protects marine life while fulfilling its mission.

Digital Membership Cards

In August 2020, Nauticus began offering digital membership cards to reduce our use of plastic (cards) and paper (renewal letters, card delivery, etc.) By going digital, we will avoid using thousands of sheets of paper and envelopes, and printing over 2,000 cards every year.

It also offers our Members a convenient way to access their membership cards through their smartphone wallet app. Digital membership cards will be offered to all Members in 2020, and will become the default option starting in 2021. To learn more, visit our Membership page.

Skip the Straw!

It is estimated that 119 billion pounds of plastic waste is currently in our oceans and waterways, and every year millions of pounds of new plastic waste builds up from the improper disposal of straws, cups, water bottles, plastic bags, and other single-use items.

In 2019, Nauticus committed to go straw free and switched providers in their cafe to offer only paper straws and purchase recyclable and even compostable food containers.

Nauticus also works with the cafe to promote sustainable seafood and other food choices.

Additional Virtual Programs & Activities

In 2020, we committed to reducing our use of single-use plastics or other consumable products in our educational programming and crafts. We accomplished this goal during Afro-futurism event held in February in celebration of Black History Month by using only recycled and recyclable products for all of our crafts and activities!

Nauticus has reaffirmed this commitment with our virtual programming and adventures as we craft and learn science with you at home. Below are several of our virtual offerings for families to enjoy environmentally friendly craft and STEM content.