We can’t change Trump but we don’t have to send plastic to the dump
We’re all reeling from Trump’s shock win - the guy we loved to laugh at has suddenly become no laughing matter. The US can seem a world away and we can feel isolated over here, but if there’s one way Australia will feel a tangible effect it’s environmentally related, which means it can effect surfers in a big way. The US managed to elect a climate change denier, which is a massive step backwards.
The surfing world is already stuck in its own paradox of being in sync with the ocean and slave to its waves, and on the other hand fuelling the ocean’s severe pollution issues. It’s easily captured in one picture - a guy in the ocean, feeling in time with nature and the moment, in awe of the waves he’s offered but whose pulled on neoprene and riding a board made of pretty mean chemicals. There is an undeniable hypocrisy in your eco-surf warrior who buys strictly organic and then drives hours up and down the coast in search of waves, with air miles clocked up in the same pursuit. We need to balance this out a bit.
At the start of this month, Leonardo Di Caprio released his eye-opening documentary on global warming, called ‘Before the Flood’ . It focused on fossil fuel pollution, palm oil plantations and deforestation for beef production. All issues that need to be tackled by surfers and non-surfers alike. However, what’s probably most pertinent to surfers is plastics, another one of those things we don’t want to think about. Like all rubbish, it is out of sight out of mind, which is easy to stick to seeing pristine Australian beaches, but a devastatingly different story for other beaches like those near Jakarta or Mumbai. For a quick lesson, plastic doesn’t biodegrade like food and other organic stuff, but it photodegrades, which means it breaks up into millions of little pieces, and takes hundreds of years to return to a natural state. So just picture this - virtually every piece of plastic ever made is still in form somewhere, and a massive amount of that is in the ocean.
After watching the documentary I was very concerned for the state of the environment, and mys sense of concern for the world intensified when Trump was elected. This can all be a bit overwhelming. So, let’s boil it down to the little changes that can be made as individuals - and though saying no to that one plastic bag can seem a pretty futile thing in the face of these issues, keep at it, and as your family does and your mates do, then voilà collectively a difference can be made.
Here’s your checklist on how to be a good enviro surfer without having to eat tofu or coat your boards with flower power emblems.
1. Keep cups - so many early mornings sessions coffee is a staple. Just imagine what a 365 stack of plastic coffee cup lids look like. Get a keep cup, promise you won’t look uncool.
2. Seriously, say no to plastic bags from supermarkets and all other shops too. Get a tote bag. Single use plastic is the enemy.
3. Beers on the beach - have a good time but don’t you dare smash one or leave it behind.
4. Share rides on your surf trips, and when you’re at home walk to the break if you can or get a board rack for your bike and do your best not to take anyone out.
5. Get your hands on some neoprene-free wetty’s. Patagonia are leading the way in the production of environmentally sensitive suits.
6. You don’t need massive muscles for surfing – eat less beef. But seriously, Leo’s doco showed that an average beef burger has the same carbon emissions as driving a Prius 67km… So even saying no to a burger every other time will help.
7. Grabbing some quality second-hand boards is a good approach, both for the environment and your wallet. You’ll break it eventually anyway.
8. Paddle to Indo instead of flying. Kidding, go on holidays, but do your best to be aware of your consumption when you’re at home. Gotta do what you can.
9. As you leave the beach, pick up some rubbish and don’t ever leave any behind. Don’t be afraid to tuck a plastic bag in the water down your wettie, before it chokes a turtle.
10. Get a water bottle. There was a time when no one bought water and nobody in the western world died of dehydration. Now the plastic bottles are the scourge of the earth and the ocean.