Those of us who spend even the smallest amount of time in the ocean cannot help but be concerned by the quantities of rubbish floating around. Our beaches and coastlines are changing. Rather than being a place to connect with nature, shorelines everywhere are adopting a multicolored hue. High water marks cease to be scattered with generous quantities of bleached driftwood and sunbaked seaweed, there’s a new feature on our beaches: High-density polyethylene, more commonly known as plastic.
Plastic is a problem. If it’s not physically removed from the ocean or beach then it can take up to 600 years to decompose. Put simply, when it enters the water, it doesn’t leave. Even more troublesome is the amount of plastic being deposited into the ocean every year. It is estimated that within a period of 365 days a staggering 8 million metric tons of plastic waste finds its way into the sea. And that number is increasing.
It’s easy for those who make the important decisions to offer empty promises about cleaning up our water. But they’re not surfers and they don’t spend their lives picking the trash of others from between their salty toes. The situation is so bad in places that it genuinely threatens access to the water. Kelly Slater, on a trip to Indo a few years ago, was quoted as saying:
“I’ve never been so alarmed by pollution situation as [on] this trip. We need solutions and multi-industry backing. If Bali doesn’t do something serious about this pollution it’ll be impossible to surf here in a few years.”
But it’s all too easy to bitch about the problem without taking any real responsibility. How much can you honestly say you recycle? How conscious are you of the products you use and the origin of the materials from which they are manufactured? If surfers want to legitimately preach about cleaning up the oceans then they have a responsibility to practice their beliefs on sustainability.
Revolwe, a Swedish company producing surf accessories, have made it a little easier to traverse the moral high ground. In an attempt to enlighten the surf community towards the issues of surfing sustainably they have produced an eco-friendly surf leash. Made entirely from recycled materials and adopting manufacturing processes aimed to reduce energy consumption during the production, the Revolwe competition leash has one MO: to use waste as a resource. Instead of neoprene cuffs, the leash features Yulex, the same materials Patagonia ditched neoprene in favor of for all of its wetsuits. In place of plastics, the leash is composed of post consumer PET bottles.
The result is a high performance leash that doesn’t compromise on performance, yet maintains a purity with the ocean environment. It’s a simple, no frills choice. It won’t save the world, but it’s a step in the right direction. By using recycled and sustainable products when chasing the waves, you can ride nature’s finest creation safe in the knowledge that you’re doing your small part for preservation. A lot of people making small changes always adds up to a big difference.