Surfing is a culture, as much as a hobby or a sport. Dedicated die-hards travel the world, weaving in and out of different surfing communities. However, the thing they connect through and the thing they love the most is dictated by the natural world which is currently under threat. It’s not catching waves or an awesome left hander that is putting the environment at risk, but the practices and businesses that surround the industry.
In 2016 there were an anticipated 23 million surfers in the world. Yet, this huge number still share a unique global community, that could help to protect our world. If sustainable, eco consciousness was introduced into a community and became the norm, green movements could become effortless and really gain momentum. These are just a few things surfers could introduce into their lives and their groups:
Choose Your Gear Carefully
SUP boards, surf boards and wetsuits could help to make all the difference to the environment, but you need to be educated on how to make conscious buying decisions to ensure you are having the best impact. Wetsuits for example should be an investment. Make sure you buy a durable suit in a thickness that suits the temperature you surf most commonly.
There are an estimated 750,000 surfboards manufactured every single year, which reports indicates produces 220,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. Although it’s awesome to buy a new one, you could regulate yourself to something new every couple of years. Fix rather than replace, is also a conscious practice to get behind. An epoxy resin board is more eco friendly than one made of polyester, but ecoboard technology is improving and soon these boards will be matching anything else.
Go Organic With Your Wax
Surf wax is an essential, synthetic surf wax is not. Synthetic options are made from paraffin which is made from petroleum and is extremely harmful to the environment. To make sure the product looks appealing to surfers (and looks the right colour to avoid marking their boards), it is bleached from a grey to an off-white colour. Approximately 95% of surf wax is made this way.
You can source eco-friendly waxes made from natural and sustainable raw materials. These are not reported to have any affect on performance, just a lesser impact on the world around us. These products are massively outweighed by their toxic alternatives, so you might be better off buying in-bulk online!
Organise Beach Clean Ups
As we stated early on, the number of surfers in the world are on the rise. This is awesome, but it does create a real threat to the environment too. More beach users means that more rubbish and plastics are likely to accumulate on the beach. Promote awareness within the community by using your platform or simply spreading the word. You can make an event to litter pick the beach altogether, to prevent harmful trash from being washed into the ocean.
Think About How You Travel
There is a large portion of people who are global surf trotters, travelling from country to country to find new waves. Many of the most coveted waves in the world are in a concentrated area, which means the rest of the world’s surfers have to travel to get there. Of course, this has a huge impact on the environment. If you are travelling twice a year to the shores of Indonesia for two weeks at a time, could you re-think your priorities? What about these alternatives?
- Move – This is a huge commitment to the sport, but if surfing is your passion and you are dedicated to waves in a certain area, you might consider relocating to a local area. This could cut back hugely on air and overland travel.
- Look for surf areas closer to home – reducing your mileage in anyway you can help to minimise your impact on the environment.
- Extend your trips – this is not always feasible for our lifestyles, particularly if you rely on your 9-5 to support your passion, but taking one, long trip rather than lots of little ones can also reduce air travel and might even get those dream waves out of your system.
There is so much advice out there about reducing your carbon footprint when you travel. Tips form everything from packing, to eating whilst you are away and how to cultivate an eco friendly community. Check it out and spread the word. There are also some awesome movements amongst surfers to make sure you are respecting the environment to help protect the waves!