We recognise that surfing is not the most environmentally friendly sport – with a heavy reliance on the petro-chemical industry! However, we do deeply care about protecting our coastline, surfing sustainably and reducing our overall impact on the environment.
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BEACH & COASTAL CLEANS
Since our formation in 2004 we have been organising beach cleans. Furthermore, we have partnered with Surfers Against Sewage and other community groups both in East Lothian and the Islands. In 2022 we also started to offer litter pickers for free use from the surf centre. The general public ca use them on Belhaven as a daily use. The aim to leave locations we surf cleaner than we find them.
NO PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL TRACE
We have also been conscious of our impact on tours around Scotland. We practice a no trace physical policy and run beach cleans on every Island tour. Customers are asked not to promote locations on photos or social media. Any photos the surf school take are cropped. Nor do we never announce our Scottish locations. This no trace digital policy has meant after 15 years of tours, the locations we use are as empty as we found them.
We are actively trying to reduce our power needs and go greener. The first stage of this was to move to the purpose built Belhaven surf centre. Our centre uses an air source heat pump, with underfloor heating being installed in 2019. The second stage is to instal solar. This will make the surf centre power move to a much higher percentage from environmental sources. We are proud to announce in May 2023 the surf centre solar panels will be installed.
We are actively trying to reduce transport needs. This has massively reduced since moving into the surf centre in 2019. We hope to go further with a move to more greener, with one of our two vehicles moving electric by 2025. Subsequently, we are actively sourcing charging solutions for the surf school and customers. We also aim to actively promote greener transport to customers and have discounted codes for public transport, car sharing or walking/cycling in place in 2023.
Working with our suppliers to reduce excess packaging within the surf industry. We are seeing suppliers move too – such as red paddle in 2022. They now use compostable bags and cardboard for all Paddleboard deliveries. We recycle all packaging we can at this end too.
PAPERLESS OFFICE AND VOUCHERS
We have actively taken our office, booking, vouchers and payment systems online since 2019. Whenever possible we try to run to a paperless environment or use recycled paper. Our marketing is also mainly online now.
We buy quality durable equipment and try to recycle all the equipment (boards and wetsuits) we buy, back into the local surf community. This gives it a much longer shelf life. Ensuring customers have quality equipment to use in the surf school sessions. Furthermore, customers are buying quality second hand products that will last longer extending life to landfill. The challenge is to find partners that can take end of life surf equipment before landfill to recycle everything we can.
We aim to promote green retail retailing. With more environmentally friendly products where we can. In 2023, we will look at everything we supply and actively see if there are environmentally friendlier alternatives. We are also aware that supplying high quality durable products with longer life spans, is sometimes better than short span more environmentally friendly products due to the energy in production and the need to replace quicker so its a careful balance.
In 2020 we planted a tree for every customer on our junior holiday courses and tours. With new trees planted through an organisation called trees for life re-wilding the Scottish highlands. We have added well over a 1000 trees now adding each year to the same project.
We are in discussions with the council at more local alternatives for tree planting. This will allow our customers, particularly the young, to have a direct relationship with their trees and planting – giving a long term connection with nature.
We are also keen to get involved with local seagrass re-wilding projects and are keen to support organisations pushing for protected ocean spaces and the more locally extending protection back to the nearshore zones directly around Scotland’s coasts.
ENVIRONMENTAL PLAN 2022/23
We worked with ex instructor Adam in 2021/22 (who has an environmental degree) to put together a carbon plan for our surf school. We have been collecting data on both our organisational patterns and our customer travel patterns to try and work out accurately our carbon footprint.
Our understanding to date is that we have three main areas of carbon creation. The equipment we buy, the power we use at the surf centre and the transport that both the surf school, our staff and our customers use to do our activities.
In 2021 our instructors took part in wildlife training courses and the surf school became a Wise Adventure member. We pledged to follow best practice with wildlife and environment. We educate in lessons and tours and will look to better use the surf centre with classroom presentations and invite external talks in this area. We also work with partners, such as Wilder Education, a new CIC in 2022, that offers outdoor learning with both Forest and Beach School courses.
LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL SIGNAGE
We worked with the council to improve safety and environmental messaging in 2020/21. The current signs are very simple “Leave nothing but your footprint” in the beach car park.
Do you have a question?
If you would like to know more about our sustainability efforts, please get in touch.