By Jay Recinto of Warm Winds Surf Shop
With the sustainable surf movement gaining steam, we can take this chance to make a difference – a difference that can do wonders for the sport of surfing that we love and for Mother Nature as well.
As a surfer, you may be under the impression that you’re not harming the world’s oceans. Yes, it’s true that the act of surfing, even with all the slashes, tailsides and airs, doesn’t really affect the oceans negatively. But there’s more to surfing than riding pipelines and pumping swells.
We are just guests welcomed into the loving oceans of Mother Nature. Just like any other house guest, we are expected to act accordingly. At the very least, we’re expected not the damage the house that we’re visiting – especially a house wherein the house owner readily welcomed us.
Sustainable Surf Movement Has a Collective Voice
We as surfers are in a good and unique position to make a change. We have a strong collection of voices. In fact, The Economist issued a report saying that the number of surfers across the world increased to 35 million from 25 million between the years 2001 and 2011. While one voice (yours?) can do a lot, a collection of millions of voices can do a lot more.
With sustainable surf gaining steam, we can take this chance to make a difference – a difference that can do wonders for the sport that we love and for Mother Nature as well.
The Downside of the Increasing Popularity of the Sport of Surfing
With this many surfers (and growing), we now have many surfers using products that are harmful to the world’s oceans.
“We have millions of surfers adding to the already bad carbon footprint of the surfing industry.”
If we don’t do something about it, this trend will continue. With the rising number of surfers, then the odds are stacked against Mother Nature.
What Can We Do to Promote Sustainable Surf Practices?
Fortunately, there are things we can do to get on board with the sustainable surf movement. Best of all, these actions won’t greatly affect how we enjoy the sport. We love surfing as much as we love Mother Nature, so we can’t really make drastic changes that will affect our whole surf experience unless the surfing industry as a whole has caught up and is able to provide us with greener and better options that don’t affect the experience.
Here are some things that we can do:
1. Minimize Surf Travel
We get it. Surfers love to travel. We have our own “bucket list” that lists down all of the surf spots all over the world that we want to conquer. That’s okay. It’s okay to appreciate and enjoy Mother Nature’s gifts.
But do you really need to go to Lombok, Indonesia twice a year to surf? Planes emit gases, noise, heat and particulates that contribute to climate change. While the average emission per passenger per flight varies extensively, the average direct emission of long distance flights as provided by a survey conducted by LIPASTO is 113 g/km CO2.
“You don’t have to give up your overseas surfing trips. Just limit them. Cover shorter distances on your trips to lessen your carbon footprint. Go local whenever possible.”
2. Check out Sustainable Boards and Products and Support Brands Trying to Make a Difference
Vote with your wallet.
More and more companies are making the move to offer sustainable boards and products. For example, Firewire Surfboards established the ECOBOARD Project to support the surfboard industry’s transition to more eco-friendly materials and business practices, with the ultimate objective of lowering environmental impact, especially on the world’s oceans.
You don’t have to go all out and switch your boards and gears to sustainable products. Take baby steps. It’s understandable if you don’t want to give up the board that you’re using just yet considering that it has the latest in board technology.
“You may want to check out what’s in your board and do research to see if they’re especially harmful to the ocean.”
3. Prolong the Life of the Surfboards You Use
Like all industry, the surfboard manufacturing industry leaves behind quite a carbon footprint with how it depends on petrol to manufacture foam and other materials needed to manufacture surfboards. The same dependence can be said on shipping of the boards.
Support sustainable surf boards where you can. If you can’t because you’re a fan of a certain technology, prolong the life of your surfboard. Stop yourself and your constant need to change or upgrade. If you must really buy a new board, don’t dispatch your old board just yet. Use it. Donate it. Sell it. Recycle it.
On that note, you can also buy a second hand board instead of a new one. This prolongs the life of a board that’s already in existence.
4. Join or Help an Organization that Promotes Sustainable Surf Practices
The organisation, Sustainable Surf, is a good start. You can also check out The Surfrider Foundation and Save the Waves. Check out their latest initiatives to see how you can help.
5. Respect the Ocean
Sometimes the most simple act is the most effective. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’ll be surprised to know that a lot of surfers commit violations that disrespect the ocean. They leave trash behind. They disturb the ecosystem. They don’t care. It’s not that they’re bad people but society has created a mindset that promotes constant consumption and wasteful practices.
Break the mindset.
Start with yourself. Take a look at your own surfing lifestyle. Have you been acting like a good house guest to our oceans and Mother Nature? If not, shift your mindset. Look at your output. Make baby steps to positive change. Often, the mental shift is all that is required to start a movement.
“Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Be more environment-conscious.”
6. Start Your Own Sustainable Surf Movement
You can do a lot by yourself. Can you imagine what more you can do with other surfers behind you doing the same thing? Encourage other surfers to join the sustainable surf movement. Recommend a surf spot that’s a short drive away for your next surf vacation. Say “not cool!” if you see someone throwing their trash on the beach. Be the bigger person and pick up after someone who has left waste behind.
Join a beach clean-up drive. Better yet, start one. Be the catalyst for change at your local surf spot.
Conclusion: Respect the Ocean and Benefit from It
We’re all amped at every A-frame that we see and ride. Now let’s try to channel that enthusiasm and be more dedicated to protecting the ocean that provides so much to us.
Don’t be a beach leech and just take and take from the ocean. Learn to give back to the ocean. Shift your mindset. The steps above are a good start. We (and our children) are the ones who will benefit in the long run.