Sustainable Renewable Bamboo Camera RigThe video below reminds me of why I am committed to surf gear that is renewable (can be regenerated within a generation), biodegradable (the earth can naturally recycle it and it has a healthy place in the food chain), and non-toxic (the collection and production of the materials do not pollute our air, land, water, animals, or people).

Even though I have been moving in this direction for many years I still come up quite short, as currently all my surfboards are made of epoxy and carbon (by most accounts this is a big improvement from PU boards).  I am doing my best to change this, I succeed when I make my own gear as I use renewable plant based materials:  bamboo, hemp, other wood, and resin that is plant based.

When I lived at Ocean Beach I didn’t see much trash on the beach, same when I lived in Santa Cruz.  I assume the continuous wave action and strong currents washed it somewhere else, maybe the plumber in this video picked it up before I got to the beach?

Now that I live on the San Francisco Bay I see trash every day all over the beach, no matter how much I clean up there is always more, my hunch is all the trash from other places finds it’s final resting spot here in the bay.

When I started experimenting with building an elevated pole camera mount I tried aluminum first, then carbon fiber, and now bamboo.  Cutting and sanding carbon and feeling that itch on my skin after told me there is something unhealthy about this stuff.  The smell from a tube of 5 minute epoxy said to me this stuff must be horribly toxic  When I work with wood and plants and plant based resin my skin feels natural and my nose breaths clean.

The question that comes up for me is why have we collectively chosen toxic performance gear at the expense of our oceans?

Why aren’t we riding gear that is made of renewable plants or animals and can be regrown and is safe to work with?  The simple answer to the question is we are unconscious to the damage we are doing.  I saw a Ted talk where the presenter said a farmer or rancher can claim their food is organic, but no fishermen in the world can claim their fish is organic.  This statement woke me up to the depth of the problem: every fish and plant in the ocean lives, breathes, eats, and sleeps in a plastic garbage filled cesspool.  When we eat fish we are eating plastic.

We long so deeply to be seen, heard, appreciated, valued, and to feel a sense of belonging that we will do anything to win or perform at a level that our society values.  Winners get seen, recognized, and rewarded financially, losers don’t.  The Superbowl winning quarterback gets the money, the girl, and on the cover of all the magazines.  What does the guy living in a hut making rafts out of bamboo poles get?  Kelly Salter is known for his environmentalism and yet what kind of surfboards does he ride and did he ride to win those 11 world titles?  Like most of us he rides toxic surfboards.

So what’s the solution?

Well we know warning labels, fines, and taxes don’t work.  If they did I wouldn’t have to pick up so many cigarette butts off the beach.  What I have seen that does work is awareness.  When I looked out at the bay and saw for the first time how much damage has been done I felt the sadness as if my home had been destroyed and I grieved the loss.  Once my eyes were open to the depth of the problem I immediately began changing my habits to be more earth friendly.  I now do my best to reuse containers – bottles, cans, and bags.  I say no to buying and using plastic as much as I can.  I ride my electric bike and walk more.  I pick up trash in nature as often as I can, and I spread the word and hope to raise awareness in everyone.

Also connection – one of my teachers said he became so sensitive or in touch there was a time he couldn’t walk on the beach without crying.  When we are connected deeply to our feelings we connect to the feelings of others and to all beings.  The Native Americans said they didn’t cut live trees for wood, they wouldn’t kill a tree they saw as part of their family.  Indigenous peoples say now the earth is sore from all the wounds we have caused her.  We are all born with this sensitivity and we need to reconnect with our feelings and the earth.

How can we become aware and reconnect?

The best way for me is be in nature, go for a walk, sit on the beach, touch my bare feet and skin on the sand or dirt, and swim in the ocean.  Give a few minutes to watching the sunrise and sunset.  Another way is to be curious, to wonder and ask questions?  What is this bag made of and is it renewable?  Where is it made and what is the process?  Would I want to live next to the factory?  What is it like to work there and would I want to work there?  What did ancient people use for containers and why?  What will the earth look like in 1000 years if we continue making things this way?  What did the earth – air, land, water, and animals look like 1000 years ago?  Why?  What has changed?  How can we continue to change and this time for the better, for the more renewable, and to be more loving?