Today is International Surf Day. You know what that means? It means a whole bunch of people will take photos of cigarette butts and plastic wrapped turtles, paint them with thoroughly-considered hashtags, then promptly forget all about the cigarette butts and plastic wrapped turtles. But one day is better than none, I suppose.
“Spreading awareness” is the perfect way to feel as though you’re helping without actually putting in any real effort. That’s why, for most surfers, International Surf Day is total bullshit. #blueplanet #loveyourocean #internationalsurfday! Oh, I’m sure there are a few people here and there that actually subscribe to the idea that as surfers, as people who enjoy being in the ocean, we should actively try to protect it every single day. But actively trying to protect something requires activity, which is far too much effort for a lot of people, especially when a few hashtags on Instagram will make them feel as though they’re making a difference. Ironically, just writing this is making me feel as though I’m doing something, so I suppose I’d better actually do something, lest I become the hypocritical asshole I am preaching about.
Walking the walk is much more difficult. You know who walks the walk? Surfrider Foundation and all their volunteers. They spend all day, every day practicing what they preach. They wage wars against oil companies, organize beach cleanups, and have boots on the ground. It was Surfrider that came up with the idea for International Surf Day in the first place. And like I said, one day is better than none… but more days are better than one.
“Every day, the Surfrider Foundation and our volunteer activist network work to protect our coasts,” Surfrider writes on their website. “On International Surfing Day, we pause to celebrate and enjoy the beaches and waves that we all love. This year, while we band together to share the stoke of surfing, we also aim to raise awareness of urgent threats to our precious coastline, like new offshore oil drilling.” The theme of this year’s ISD is “Protect & Enjoy.” Head to the beach, take someone surfing for the first time, participate in a beach cleanup and make your voice heard.”
Here’s a map of all the beach cleanups. Go help out, high five, and take a good hard look at just how fucking beautiful the place where the water meets the land is.
Ideally, of course, we would all be more involved in keeping the places we love most pristine. We would be more aware of the amount of plastic we use every day. We would shout at our governments to give us fuel and energy options. We would be more outraged that there are ways to run our society in a cleaner, greener way. For many, it can feel as though there simply isn’t enough time. But if we all do just a tiny bit, we’ll be making a huge dent. Many hands make light work, as they say, and as surfers, we are many. Even if it’s just for one day, go join a beach cleanup. Better yet, organize a beach cleanup. Donate a few bucks to Surfrider. Become a volunteer. And best of all, make every single day International Surf Day.