5 ways to be an Earth-friendly surfer every day

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Green barrels like this one Damien Hobgood finds himself in are certainly worth making daily changes to save. Photo: Courtesy of Grant Ellis/SURFER

Earth Day is an essential time to bring focus back to how we are impacting the planet. Surfers especially are connected to the environment as our sport depends on a healthy ocean. We can always do a better job of reducing our carbon footprint, but sometimes it can seem daunting. And while doing things specifically on Earth Day are commendable and much needed, surfers should also be enacting daily habits.

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We chatted with Sustainable Surf Co-founder Kevin Whilden about ways surfers can be more green in their every day lives.

There are two main reasons why surfers need to be at the forefront of lifestyle change, Kevin says. “One is generally reducing the use of petroleum, which everyone knows is a good thing. But the reason why that matters to surfers is because of the carbon footprint. CO2 is what causes global warming and climate change, ocean acidification and sea level rise. All those things directly threaten the future of surfing. We’re talking permanent high tide as glaciers melt. It’s a pretty significant impact in the next 15, 20, 30 years and there will be more water covering our reefs and beaches.”

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“And reason two is ocean acidification, because coral dissolves in more acidic oceans. Every surfer knows where the best waves in the world are [reef breaks]. When you have the Great Barrier Reef at 90% bleached due to El Nino, it’s going to be a lot harder for it to recover in more acidic and warmer waters. All corals could be gone in the 30 to 40 years. It’s likely to be the first major ecosystem in the world to go extinct.”

With those motivators in mind, here are five ways Sustainable Surf says YOU can become a greener, more sustainable surfer everyday. Find out even more ways and great information over at Sustainablesurf.org.

1. Your Gear

Surfing's only verified eco-friendly board label, the Ecoboard Project. Photo: Courtesy of Sustainable SurfSurfing’s only verified eco-friendly board label, the Ecoboard Project. Photo: Courtesy of Sustainable Surf

The EcoBoard Project is a labeling system for surfboards like the Energy Star or the organic food label. We’ve done the research to find which materials have significantly reduced impact on the ocean. Companies like Channel Islands, Lost, Firewire and others use this verified EcoBoard label. Several contests were won last year using the label, Kelly Slater rides them. His new company, Slater Designs, will be 100% EcoBoards.

Surfers have a lot of power to influence the market when they buy a board. All that reduces the carbon footprint by 30%, and they’re still winning world tour events so you’re not compromising performance.

2. Live a Deep Blue Life

This initiative is all about surfers living an ocean-friendly life, or a Deep Blue Life. Reducing your energy consumption reduces your carbon footprint but also saves you money because energy is expensive. Some easy ways are:
– Saving energy: An LED lightbulb costs about $5 and saves about $10 in energy every year. There’s no reason not to replace as many bulbs as you can afford.
– Saving water: Low-flow fixtures, rain barrels and mindful conservation can save a lot of money each year. For surfers that live near the ocean, wasted water usually ends up in the ocean as treated sewage anyways.
– Reducing waste and recycle: It’s a no-brainer that this also reduces the use of petroleum to make new products. Our Waste to Waves program helps recycle styrofoam into new surfboards.

3. Alternative Transportation

Walk, ride a bike, use an electric or hybrid vehicle, ride a bus, do whatever you can. These save money and significantly lower the carbon footprint of your surf session.

4. Sustainable Lifestyle Education Resources

Join a sustainability community, like the Ecology Center in Orange County. They teach people all the ways to save water, reduce your energy consumption, all the ways to grow your own food, compost, and recycle. It’s much easier to learn how to live a #deepbluelife from the experts, and making friends in a community around it is even better.

5. Offset Your Travel

After doing all of the above, the last step is to buy high-quality, verified carbon offsets. This is the only solution for air travel. One flight to Hawaii from California is the equivalent carbon footprint of 40 surfboards, and costs about $20 to fully offset. A good offset company is Wildlife Works, which is used by Volcom to offset the carbon footprint of their surf contests.

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