Let’s face reality. Most surfers use cars to get to the beach, but we rarely think about the impact that driving has on the ocean. For a sport that creates a unique connection to nature, it’s quite a contradiction to directly threaten its existence by driving to it.
That doesn’t mean you should stop driving entirely, because that’s not very practical in the lifestyle of a typical surfer. However you can at least get more conscious of the alternatives, and perhaps try to make them happen in your life.
You may be wondering why reducing the impact of car travel is such a big deal. Burning petroluem emits carbon dioxide, which is absorbed by the oceans and directly threatens a healthy ocean. Ocean acidification is happening 10x faster than ever before and is a primary driver of mass extinctions. Sea level rise is accelerating because ice caps like Greenland are melting faster than expected. If we keep going on this path, it won’t be long before coral reefs are extinct and sea level rise swamps out our favorite breaks with a bad case of “permanent high tide”.
Without further ado, here’s the Top 5 ways to get to the beach without killing it.
5. Plug-in hybrid vehicle
If you’re going to have one vehicle for driving to the beach, a plug-in hybrid is the way to go. Plug-in hybrid vehicles combine a large battery and electric motor with a petroleum-powered internal combustion engine. Assuming you live fairly close to the beach, you can keep the car in electric-only mode for the minimal carbon footprint commute. However when its time for the surfing road-trip, the gasoline motor eliminates any range limitations as compared to pure-electric vehicles.
The new Countryman SE All 4 from Mini is the first plug-in hybrid with 4WD, and has plenty of space for surf buddies and boards. Like the new Channel Islands Mini Eco Hybrid, their first Gold Level certified ECOBOARD.
Can’t get your hands on the latest plug-in hybrid? Another great way to reduce your impact is to carpool, which effectively shares your emissions with your surf buddy. Surfing is always more fun with a friend! Just ask the crowd that turned up to the recent Cobblestone Classic, where more than half of the surfers competing car-pooled.
4. Public Transportation
Even though SoCal residents may shout “inconceivable!”, many people commute to surf by bus or train. In fact, New York surfers often change into their wetsuit on the train in winter, because it’s warmer there than on the frigid beach.
3. Electric bikes
Due to recent advances in battery technology, electric powered bikes and skateboards are becoming quite common and affordable. Electric bikes are fast (20mph), have typical range of 20-30 miles, and laugh at steep hills.
2. Ride a bike or skateboard
Using human-powered transportation fits perfectly with the vibe of surfing itself. There’s no need to get aggro fighting traffic and bad drivers. You can also cover a surprising amount of ground in a short period of time.
If you live within walking distance of a good surf break, you’re probably already walking to it anyway. At least I hope you are…. Some people have all the luck.
Bonus… Carbon offsets for air travel
Air travel is the most carbon intensive way to go surfing, by far. Until a reliable bio-fuel for aviation becomes available, there is no way to avoid emitting fossil fuels. Assuming that you don’t want to stop making those dream trips, the best solution is to buy carbon offsets from a reliable offset developer. This is a totally viable way to minimize your carbon footprint, and we recommend offsets from companies like Cool Effect or Wildlife Works. You can also offset other emissions from home energy use and vehicle travel.
If this article inspires you to “blue up” your trip to the beach, then don’t forget to add an ECOBOARD to your quiver as well. There are many surf brands who make ECOBOARDS with more sustainable materials and a reduced carbon footprint.