Marine Biologist/Writer/Surfer
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You can protect this. Make 2015 the year you do it.

You can protect this. Make 2015 the year you do it. Photo: Jaider Lozano

As surfers, our personal dependence on the ocean is a two way street. You can’t reap the benefits of peeling point breaks while turning a blind eye to the plastic bottle that skips across your path. No longer does that board under your arm just mean that you’re the cool kid on the block, it also means that you are a steward for healthy oceans, clean beaches, and protected waves. So along with your other resolutions–surf more, travel more, smile more–make 2015 the year that you make a difference for your break.

Mark Healey getting involved. You should too

Mark Healey getting involved. You should too.

1. Get Involved: 2014 saw surfers rally against GMO testing, blocked beach access, and offshore oil development. From joining a local beach cleanup to testifying in front of local county councils, there is a place for you. Surfrider Foundation has chapters in every coastal and Great Lakes state, and even in other countries. There are hundreds of ocean advocacy groups, so do a little digging and find the right fit for you.

Look for the label.

Look for the label.

2. Sustainable Surfboards: The ECOBOARD Project is revolutionizing the way the surf industry creates surfboards. Instead of sacrificing performance for materials, ECOBOARDS provide high-quality, high-performance boards that meet specific environmental criteria. Firewire, Channel Islands, and Mayhem all offer ECOBOARDS – just look for the label.

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Take three (or more!)

Take three (or more!)

3. Take three: As a kid, my dad made sure that we left the beach with less than we found it–three less pieces of trash, to be exact. It’s become my “Rule of Three.” What I once considered an inconvenience has now become my personal way of giving back to the ocean after each session. So next time you’re headed back to your car, take a few seconds to grab your three pieces of trash off the beach.

Bike pedaling is better than gas pedaling.

Bike pedaling is better than gas pedaling. Photo:WiLDCOAST

4. Outfit your Bike with Surf Racks: A 2009 study evaluated the carbon footprint (environmental impact) of a surf session and, surprisingly, found that the largest CO2 emissions come not from the boards we ride, but from the amount we surfers drive. While biking to local breaks may not be feasible for everyone, reconsider the need to check 10 different spots the next time it’s pumping.

5. DIY: We all love new, shiny toys, but “new” and “shiny” come with a big environmental price tag. Learning basic ding repair, creating surf racks from wood scraps, and making a change mat from an old tarp save money and avoid the wastefulness that can come with buying new. Cyrus Sutton’s Korduroy.tv is surfing’s one-stop-shop for DIY.

Upcycle and look good doing it.

Upcycle and look good doing it. Photo: Odina

6. Choose upcycled bikinis, board shorts, and wetsuits: If you must buy new, choose brands that are committed to sustainability.Odina creates upcycled bikinis and Patagonia has been, from the beginning, a leader in high quality, ecofriendly products. Even Quicksilver has jumped on the ecofriendly bandwagon with board shorts made from recycled water bottles.

So much better than a spoon OR a fork. And plastic. Much better than plastic.

So much better than a spoon OR a fork. And plastic. Much better than plastic.

7. Just say No: Refuse single-use items such as cups, bags, straws, take-out containers, and utensils, all of which are severely threatening the marine environment. Instead, invest in your own titanium spork, reusable bag, and Tupperware containers for when you’re on-the-go.

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Invest in the next generation.

Invest in the next generation. Photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium/Yesenia Salas

8. Invest in the next generation: Organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium impact thousands of school children each year. By investing in ocean education and environmental programs, we can ensure that we are supporting the next generation of ocean stewards.

Science can be so cool.

Science can be so cool. Photo: Hydroflask/Jmack808/Instagram

9. Buy a HydroFlask: It keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold, and helps you avoid wasting another cup or plastic water bottle. Many coffee shops also shave a few cents off your purchase if you bring your own mug, and you can put those pennies towards your next surf trip.

Artist's rendition of the toll road at Trestles.

Artist’s rendition of the toll road at Trestles. Photo:

10. Write your local politician: Political action wields great influence over the future of our oceans. Make sure your voice is heard, whether through casting a vote or calling up your local representative to explain how planned projects (like toll road expansions…) could impact your local wave.

11. Save your wax:  The video above shows how to create your own candle out of surf wax. Instead of using unopened bars of wax, though, just leave your board in the sun for a few hours and scrape off your old wax.

12. Shop local, organic, non-GMO: Anything upstream of your break, including crops full of pesticides and fertilizers, is going straight into your perfect A-frame. Kyle Theirmann’s provocative short film makes a compelling case against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s). Buying local, organic, and GMO-free protects your wave, while ensuring that only the best food is going into your body.

When you travel, help out.

When you travel, help out. Photo: Adrian Rejon/Coastal Playground

13. Travel with care: Whether you’re headed to the next county over or packing up for a remote island atoll, be respectful of other’s backyards. If you are on an extended vacation, look for ways that you can volunteer with a local beach cleanup or donate to the local community.

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It all gets to the ocean eventually.

It all gets to the ocean eventually. Photo: Flickr

14. Use ecofriendly household products: All drains lead to the ocean–literally. Opt for shampoos, soaps, and cleaning products that use natural ingredients instead of harsh chemicals like bleach and parabens. Better yet, make your own.

15. Spread your knowledge: As a surfing community, we have the power to make a difference. Change, however, doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Share your good habits and newfound knowledge about ocean issues with your friends, family, and fellow surfers.

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