Travelling is one of the biggest contributors to our personal ecological footprint and as traveling surfers galavanting the globe on an eternal wave quest, we’re one of the worst culprits. We need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves, and the Planet.
Back in the day all the travelling we did was on foot, horseback, muleback, on the back of an elephant etc or on a boat. Carbs would power us and our animals and the wind would propel our water crafts. I can picture a big powerful Polynesian riding bareback, alaei in hand frothing for a sesh at his local. This was sustainable.
Then along came the beautifully convenient destructive fossil fuelled monsters; trains, cars and the big papa – planes, all of which are helping us negatively contribute to one of the biggest problems that the Earth and the Human Race face.
Unless you’re a carbon-footprint-conscious cold-water charger, or a straight up skint surfer you’re going to jump on a plane at some point to score those board short barrels you’ve been dreaming of ever since your first green wave. But personal travel is one aspect of our lives that is totally under our control and we can reduce the impact we have on the environment if we really tried. I personally need that tropical vitamin sea fix, but try to reduce my ecological footprint and travel sustainably.
Firstly, I know that cars are bad for the environment but they are nowhere near as bad as a massive plane and secondly road trips are the best and need to make a comeback. Cramming a 106 full of your surfing pals and all your kit is great. I was a very bad surfer aged 17 and I probably loved the road trip more than the surfing itself, your trip starts as soon as your start loading the car up. You really feel the stoke the whole journey. Driving to Stansted to then cue up for a few hours in the middle of the night is a lot less exciting.
Obviously we can’t drive to Uluwatu and that wave needs my styleless backhand nearly off the top at least once every few years, thus meaning I must jump on said massive plane. I also must have the right equipment to get my pigdogging done, preferably some stretchy boardshorts that don’t give me a violent groin rash. Instead of attempting to support the local economy buy stocking up on Mirages from the Discovery Mall in Kuta, I’ll just buy a few pairs of massive fake ones from Made’s on Poppie’s 2, they are probably both made in the same sweatshop anyway and as an unambitious barterer I know she’s getting more than she expected.
Also, if you go into one of the warungs early, you’ll be spreading some positive vibes as the Gods are thanked for the first sale of the day. There’s got to be something environmentally responsible about that on a spiritual level.
However you could buy from a local, eco-friendly surf brand, boycotting the big boys, sticking it to the man helping give the environment a chance.
It’s not all about hemp clothing, bottle banks and painful toilet paper, you can do something as simple as leaving all your used boards for the Groms. Excuse the cliche, but one man’s trash is another’s treasure, after all and you’ll be lightening the load on your plane home. Also, those magic boards in Bali never feel the same when you get back. Or maybe spend the onshore afternoons teaching some local kids English as opposed to hitting the big brown bottle. You know the score.
With all this being said, we do take a lot out of travel and as responsible surfers with open eyes, we learn about different cultures and ways of lives. I’ve seen Sri Lankan “Eco Lodges” burning the weekly rubbish and a Moroccan Surf Hotelier pour a wheelbarrow full of crap into a stream metres away from Ankor Point. On the flip side I’ve seen how communities can pull together in villages seriously affected by a Tsunami and how a Central American country can sit between two war zones, yet boast no army, low crime rates, a strong economy and an all round mega respect for the environment.
Traveling gives us an insight into what is really happening to the World, the sort of insight you don’t get from reading scare blogs and it shows us that our Western lifestyle is ruining the planet.