Written by: Lisa Silva
Note – This article contains links to outside websites. CRsurf does not have any financial incentive to include these links, but we want to help the author so they continue to share quality content.
Our oceans are under a constant threat. From pollution to oil spills, overfishing and the impact of industrialization, the ocean is becoming less and less of a safe space for the fish and wildlife populations who reside there. By the year 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.
Surfers know better than anyone what the impact of humans has been on the oceans, as no matter where in the world they are, they are likely to see litter washing up on the shore. While large corporations and the government can make the largest changes through policy regulation, there are certain things we as individuals can do to preserve and protect our oceans. Here are some small changes to implement in your daily life.
Whether you are a surfer or someone who likes to walk or bike on the sand, treat the beach as if it is your home. Anytime you see a plastic bag or other form of litter, pick it up and throw it away. This only takes two seconds of your time and can help keep beaches cleaner. If you want to spend more time making the beach as clean as possible, volunteer with local beach cleanups or organize one with your friends and family. The Surfrider Foundation was created by surfers to protect their local breaks. There are over 50 chapters along both coasts of the United States and Hawaii, plus several international affiliates (including one in Tamarindo)
The team at EcoWatch created a comprehensive research guide on ocean bound plastics that includes actionable steps individuals can take: Ocean Plastic: What You Need to Know
From your board wax to your water bottle, choose products that are sustainable and made by ethical companies. Your board wax should be biodegradable and all-natural, as should your sunscreen. Research on coral reefs has shown that chemicals found in sunscreen have had a damaging impact on the coral. If it’s bad for the ocean, you can bet that it’s also not good for your skin!
When it comes to your clothing and footwear at the beach, look for bathing suits and sustainable sneakers made from eco-friendly materials that are biodegradable. Avoid virgin plastics, which will inevitably end up in a landfill and potentially find their way into the ocean. One surf company that uses hemp for their boardbags and recycled urethane for their leashes is Wave Tribe.
With any products that you buy, try to take care of them and repair them, rather than buying replacements. The longer you are able to wear or use a product, the lower your carbon footprint will be. For example, canvas sneakers can easily be washed, either by hand or in a washing machine. Always protect your board when it’s not in use and never let salt sit on the board for any length of time as this can damage it.
Of course, it’s not feasible for most people to cut out all of their carbon emissions. You can try to reduce your emissions by doing things like eating less meat, composting your food waste, taking shorter showers, driving less, and installing energy efficient lighting in your home. The only way to achieve carbon neutrality without cutting out all emissions is to offset your footprint by doing things like planting trees. The trees need to absorb the same amount of carbon or more than you are producing in order for you to fully offset your carbon emissions. For a great Costa Rican non-profit that plants AND takes care of the trees for four years using fairly paid local labor is Community Carbon Trees (CRsurf is a Tree Ambassador)
Finally, get involved! There are tons of incredible ocean conservation projects and organizations where you can volunteer and make a difference. Oceana and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are two of the most well-known organizations that work to protect marine life and the fragile ecosystems in our oceans. It does not have to center on surfing. Overfishing may not seem related, but if the bottom feeders and phytoplankton disappear, those ‘nitrogen fixers’ absence will lead to increased water pollution, which would keep you out of the surf. For more information about overfishing, check out this story by Anglers.com.