page bannerThe 2017 Surfer Mag x Volcom Cobblestone Classic has been designated as a Deep Blue Event™. A Deep Blue Event is a more “Ocean Friendly” event that sets a clear path for reducing environmental impacts, while also providing social benefits for the local community.

This sustainability report is a transparent description of the sustainability performance of the event, and includes measured data, photos and videos, and suggestions for improvement. It is based on the international standard for sustainable event reporting – the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

The Cobblestone Classic is the first Deep Blue Event to be powered by onsite-generated solar energy. Taking advantage of the clear skies and summer sun, a mobile solar unit was installed for the event, having a positive impact on carbon emissions as well as noise pollution.

Sustainable Surf would like to thank Surfer Mag and the event commentators for encouraging athletes and attendees to actively participate by reducing waste and getting involved in the sustainability activations at the Sustainable Surf ECO-Innovation Booth such as:

  • Using the Mizu Water Refill Station.
  • Applying ‘reef-friendly’ Raw Elements Sunscreen.
  • Sampling some of the Channel Islands x INT ECOBOARD softboards in between heats.

To receive a Deep Blue Event designation, an event is required to reduce environmental and social impacts of the event. It must also develop a data collection plan to measure performance on impact reduction, and this data must show that it has met minimum goals for at least two of the five major categories of environmental and social impacts.

The 2017 Cobblestone Classic has exceeded the minimum requirements in the five Deep Blue Event categories measured:

  1. Waste Diversion: 34% of waste material was diverted from landfill
  2. Renewable Energy: Solar energy was generated onsite – providing >70% of total energy requirements
  3. Climate Change: 100% of the event’s carbon footprint is being offset
  4. Community Support: $2,500 is being donated to the San Onofre Parks Foundation 
  5. Transportation: Car-pooling and greener transport options  were used by approximately 64% of attendees

The 2017 Cobblestone Classic exceeded the minimum requirement for Waste Diversion with an total diversion ratio of 34%

Green Guidelines Recommendation: Implement a comprehensive management and diversion strategy to limit event waste, with a minimum requirement of 25% of total event waste is diverted from landfill.

The 2017 Cobblestone Classic had several activations in place to reduce waste and increase recycling. This included:

  • Actively encouraging attendees to bring their own water bottles and use the Sustainable Surf x Mizu water refill station.
  • Encouraging people to recycle and pick up trash in pre-event comms and during the live event commentary.
  • The Cobblestone Classic was a plastic straw free event. No straws were provided on site and only a small number were found in the trash collected.
  • Working with Bonzai Bowls to provide recyclable packaging solutions.
  • Providing separate collection bins for plastic bottles and cups (PET), plastic spoons and lids, and general waste to landfill. Bags were collected from these bins throughout the day and contamination hand sorted by Sustainable Surf. The different waste streams were then weighed.
  • PET bottles and cups and cardboard were taken by Surfer Mag for recycling at their HQ in Carlsbad.
  • Plastic spoons, lids and tubs from Bonzai Bowls are being recycled by UC Irvine into 3D Printer-filament, which will in-turn be used to make wax combs and other small surf products.
  • At the time of reporting, Surfer Mag is working with Sustainable Surf to find a solution for recycling/reusing the banners from the event.

There are two primary reasons that recovery remained relatively-low for the event despite the signigifcant efforts described above on behalf of Surfer Mag, Volcom, Sustainable Surf and event attendees:

  1. Access to recovery facilities for food waste in the region is very limited and this made up approximately 60% of the total amount of waste collected. A significant amount of this food waste was generated directly by Bonzai Bowls, with bins of compostable fruit skins and peels being sent to landfill.
  2.  Sharing the large dumpster with another surfing event scheduled within a week resulted in a last-minute waste contractor change. Rather than being sent to a CR&R material recovery facility for processing, the shared dumpster was sent to a landfill transfer facility where no recovery occurred. It is estimated that an additional 15% of material may have been recovered if the dumpster had been sent to a recovery facility.

Key observations and opportunities for improvement

Signage and bin enclosures

While bins were well-managed and the majority of plastic was able to be collected for recycling, contamination may have been decreased through the use of different bin enclosures and clearer signage positioned at eye-height. There are many options available that could work well for future events, which Sustainable Surf is keen to discuss.

Surfer Mag / TEN may also consider purchasing reusable bin enclosures that can be used at multiple events. Saving costs and reducing waste. Trash bins provided by the State Parks Service were spread throughout the site and were not accompanied by an adjacent recycling bin/s. While signage was placed near these bins advising of the location of recycling bins, a significant amount of recyclable material was removed from these bins throughout the day.

Improved information regarding waste contractor/s

Had the waste from the site been sent to the CR&R recovery facility as planned, the recovery rate fro the event may have been considerably higher. Sustainable Surf recommends obtaining more specific information from partners and waste management contractors, including a clear account as to where the collected material will be sent, how it will be treated and the estimated recovery rate that will be achieved.

The 2017 Cobblestone Classic has exceeded the minimum requirement for sourcing Renewable Energy by generating solar energy onsite

Green Guidelines Recommendation: Source significant portion of power from clean, renewable energy sources, with a minimum requirement of 25% renewable energy utilization for the event’s power needs.

The Cobblestone Classic is the first Deep Blue Event to be powered by onsite-generated solar power. A mobile ‘Solar Trailer’ was leased from Energy Hauler, producing approximately 16kWh of electricity, that provided more than 70% of the energy required to run the event.

A small energy efficient generator was required for three hours in the early morning as the trailer’s batteries were yet to be charged.

This creative approach to sourcing energy has set a new benchmark for small surf events in California and Sustainable Surf will be encouraging similar events to follow this relatively low-cost model.

Key observations and opportunities for improvement

Increased communication

A fence was placed in front of The Energy Hauler Trailer, which effectively concealed this unique activation from people at the event. Sustainable Surf recommends using the educational signage on the side of the trailer to communicate that events are powered by solar. The unit also contained a television, which could be utilized to communicate further info about the event’s commitment to be a Deep Blue Event.


The 2017 Cobblestone Classic has exceeded the minimum requirement for Community Support by providing financial support and onsite visibility to the San Onofre Parks Foundation

Green Guidelines Recommendation: Support and showcase the efforts of local environmental and social organizations, and include them as stakeholders for possible event legacy efforts, with a minimum requirement of supporting at least one NGO working on a local issue relevant to the event.

A $2,500 contribution is being made to the San Onofre Parks Foundation to help fund their Summer Enrichment Program. This supports outdoor learning experiences for underserved youth in the Santa Ana & Los Angeles area. A large area was also allocated to the Foundation to promote their programs to event attendees and create awareness about the community and environmental challenges associated with San Onofre Park.

Focusing on underserved youth, the Summer Enrichment Program encourages children to enjoy the outdoors, experience the beach, and learn in a California State Park setting. The Cobblestone Classic’s contribution will be utilized to purchase materials and supplies for 4-5 beach camping trips planned for children from the Santa Ana, LA, and surrounding area, many of whom have never experienced the beach environment.

Studies show that during the summer months, kids who are out of school tend to fall behind, especially if they live in underserved communities with a lack of learning opportunities. To date, the program has made it possible for thousands of diverse, urban and low-income youth to experience the outdoors in California state parks and engage in a variety of educational experiences related to science, natural resources, ecology and more.

Surfer Mag also provided Sustainable Sure, a not for profit partner of the event, with excellent exposure and a space to install an ECO-Innovation Tent showcasing the latest in surfing sustainability.

Key observations and opportunities for improvement

There may be an opportunity to more actively involve some of the surfers and brands that participated in the event with the Summer Enrichment Programs. Timing and logistics will be a challenge, however bringing children to a Deep Blue Event like the Cobblestone Classic, could help to increase their appreciation for the ocean and the importance of protecting the environment.

The 2017 Cobblestone Classic has exceeded the minimum goal for Climate Impact through offsetting 100% of the measured CO2 footprint of the event

ASP Green Guidelines Recommendation: Calculate the total CO2 footprint of event, and mitigate it by purchasing verified carbon offset credits or otherwise through direct actions taken at event. Minimum Goal: 50% of CO2 footprint of event offset or mitigated.

The total overall estimated footprint for the event is 12.6 tons CO2e. The 2017 Cobblestone Classic is offsetting 100% of these carbon emissions with the purchase of verified carbon credits from the Wildlife Works Carbon Kasigau Corridor, Kenya REDD+ Project.

Mitigating the event’s CO2 footprint helps reduce direct threats to surfing from climate change/global warming such as: sea level rise, ocean acidification, reduced wave heights and loss of coral reefs globally.

The total carbon emission data includes the following inputs:

  • Travel for all event attendees (99.9% of total). Sustainable Surf surveyed attendees to determine the origin of their journey, the main form of transport used, and whether they carpooled.
  • Electricity generation (less than 0.1% of total).
  • Support vehicles and shuttle (less than 0.1% of total).

Key observations and opportunities for improvement

The carbon footprint of the event is relatively small for a surf event. With many competitors and attendees being local to Southern California, emissions from air milage was kept to a minimum. With the success of the event and a potential increase in attention in 2018, it is important to understand that drawing international names in surfing may have an impact on the carbon footprint of the event.

The 2017 Cobblestone Classic has met the minimum requirement for promoting and providing greener transportation options with shuttle services for event staff, athletes and media personnel.

Green Guidelines Recommendation: Enable shuttle services, source hybrid/alternative energy powered vehicles, and encourage the use of public and alternative transportation for event spectators, with a minimum requirement of providing shuttle services to and from the event for event staff, and/or encouraging and facilitating the use of human powered modes of transport such as biking, skateboarding and walking by local spectators.

Surfer Mag clearly articulated to event attendees in pre-event communications to minimise transport impacts by car-pooling to the event, and by biking, walking and skating for those local to the event. These communications paid off, with a survey conducted by Sustainable Surf identifying that nearly 60% of people carpooled and more than 5% came via bike. The ‘team’ nature of the event may have had a positive impact on the number of people carpooling.

A shuttle was provided for attendees from the dedicated car parking space to improve safety and minimize impacts on local trails.

Key observations and opportunities for improvement

The event organizers should be applauded for their efforts to reduce the impacts of transport. Transport is a challenge at events held at Trestles, however The Cobblestone Classic has shown that with clear and consistent encouragement and the right event format, transport impacts can be kept to a minimum.

The relatively large shuttle for a small event was somewhat under-utilized. There may be an option to use a smaller, lower-impact vehicle for future events.



### The author of this report is Brett Giddings of Sustainable Surf. Special thanks to Christian Thomas, Tim Woodruff and the crew at The Enthusiast Network for their sustainability efforts and general support.