Sustainability: How Can the SUP Industry Lead the Way?
- Written by Linzi Hawkin
- Published in Opinion
Climate change is a hot topic that’s for sure, but the reality is that most people feel pretty powerless when it comes to making a difference, and so find themselves hoping & wishing that governments will somehow fix the problem. SUPkids and Project Blue founder Linzi Hawkin discusses some ideas on how to make a change.
NOLI, Italy - With last week’s news that President Trump has pulled out of the Paris Agreement, it seems like the whole world is talking about climate change. But it’s all too easy to find yourself absorbed in the politics & the hype and forget about the real issue. Climate change is a hot topic that’s for sure, but the reality is that most people feel pretty powerless when it comes to making a difference, and so find themselves hoping & wishing that governments will somehow fix the problem.
At SUPKids we’ve had the challenge of translating climate change into something that 5-year-olds can understand (and keeping the conversation solution based & optimistic - which is a pretty tricky thing to do given current circumstances!). But, here’s what we’ve realized as a result: Once kids truly understand what we’re doing to our planet, they immediately want to know what they can do to help. Interesting huh? Whilst all the adults are forming opinions on the global political situation, the kids are ready to take action in their local communities. Pretty sure there’s a lesson here for us all.
Our work over the last 12 months, growing the SUPKids community and helping SUP schools all over the world integrate environmental education into their kids programs, we’ve gained some real insight into how the SUP industry is operating in regards to sustainability. The harsh reality? As an industry that relies upon nature for its playground, we’re definitely not fulfilling our potential to become leaders in sustainability.
Photo via: Project Blue
So when the founders of the Green Surf Festival in Noli, Italy asked us to partner with them, we realized that there was an opportunity to switch things up. We had two big goals: bring together key players within the stand up paddle industry to create a space for conversations about sustainability and find a way to deliver an event in a nontraditional format that would actually leave people inspired and ready to make a change.
It has never made sense to us to gather a bunch of ocean loving people and make them sit in a hotel conference room, drink coffee and listen to endless speakers. So we're doing it differently. No presentations, no slide shows, no hand outs. Instead: SUP, swim, hike and explore the beautiful Ligurian Coast. Hang out with a bunch of like-minded folk, industry leaders & sustainability experts.
We’ve added an extra day on to the Green Surf Festival to kick start Protect Blue, and have built the schedule around the main racing events, so that athletes can take part in both events. The Protect Blue experience is based around six core themes:
- Connect to nature and explore how we can protect it. Each of our Green Talks is hosted by one of our partners. Think early morning hikes, SUP adventures, beach cleans and slow food dinners.
- Learn from each other. The concept of Protect Blue is built around collaboration. Learning from each other. Leaning into our collective experience and strengths.
- Walk the talk. We're working alongside Sustainable Surf to ensure the Green Surf Festival is a truly sustainable event. The Deep Blue Event certification means eco contracts for all partners, local, seasonal food, carbon offsets, water stations, zero plastic, green travel initiatives, community engagement and environmental education.
- Micro adventures. As part of our Protect Blue ethos, all participants will be given a DIY pack for five awesome micro-adventures you can go on whilst you're hanging out in Noli.
- Keep it playful. We know that so often, at these kinds of events, it's the conversations you have in between talks or over dinner where the magic happens. So at sunset every day, we'll meet for drinks at the beach. A place to regroup & connect. Hosted by SUP Racer, Beers for good.
- Long lasting legacy. One of our core objectives for Protect Blue is to create an industry working group so we keep the conversation moving after the event.
Protect Blue is partnered with Starboard who are leading the way with their commitment to sustainability. Starboard recently launched their new micro site dedicated to all their eco endeavours. Their team will be in Noli sharing more about the work they are doing as a company to lower their carbon footprint. Tickets for Protect Blue are limited, so reserve your spot HERE.
Do you have any ideas on how to lead the way with sustainability? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.