If you’re anything like us, you spend the majority of your free time in and on the water. And if you’re like us, you’ve probably noticed how much damage and destruction our species has had on the ocean and its inhabitants. As paddlers, it’s our duty to protect our favorite playground. Doing so may not always be the easiest or most convenient option, but it is the only option. Like they say, there is no Planet B. Here, we’ve rounded up five tips to help you be a more eco-friendly paddler.
Know your gear
The art of making sustainable paddling gear may not be perfect but it sure is getting close. Instead of choosing traditional swimsuits, paddles, and boards, search out greener alternatives. There are a number of swimsuits being made from up-cycled ocean plastics, paddles made from bamboo, and boards made from alternative resources, such as coconut husks. As the demand for sustainably made products rises, our hope is that the rest of the industry will follow suit.
Brands We Love:
Boards: NSP’s Cocomat line, Infinity’s “Green Label” board line, & Starboard
Paddle: Grass Sticks bamboo paddle
Leash: Wave Tribe recycled leashes
Wetsuits: Patagonia & Sirensong
You may not think the type of sunscreen you choose to apply has an impact on the ocean but you’d be wrong. Traditional sunscreens contain a chemical known as oxybenzone, which is not only harmful to humans but to corals, algae, sea urchins, fish, and mammals. In fact, Hawaii’s governor recently signed a bill that will prohibit the sale and distribution of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and oxtinoxate in Hawaii.
This isn’t to say that you should stop wearing sunscreen altogether, but you should be aware and be selective when choosing which kind to use.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could try making your own natural sunscreen.
Stash your trash
How many times have you been paddling in a stunning location when you notice a piece of plastic floating by? Probably too many to count. While the easy option would be to simply ignore it, the better option would be to pick it up.
To help keep our seas clean, try taking Starboard’s “Pocket of Plastic” challenge. The challenge is simple: anytime you’re out paddling and you see a piece of trash floating by, pick it up and stash it in your pocket or PFD. To make the challenge even simpler, Starboard offers a “trash picker” that you can attach to your paddle for a quick and easy cleanup job.
Refuse single-use plastics
The majority of the trash found in the ocean is single-use plastics such as cups, bottles, straws, and utensils. When dining out, bring your own utensils and to-go containers and refuse single-use option. It may seem simple but it will make a world of difference.
Photo: Jonathan Kemnitz
Recognize the power of one
It’s easy to get lost in the doom and gloom of it all and wonder how out of the 7.6 billion people in the world one person can make any difference. But you can. Martin Luther King Jr. was just one person. Isaac Newton was one person. And so was Charles Darwin. Whether your impact is big or small, it matters. Do your part, make good choices, and spread the word. It only takes one spark to light a fire—be the spark that ignites environmental change.