Michael Stewart grew up sliding on the shifting sand bars around Cape Hatteras, but now finds himself slotted among the rocks, sharks & fog near the Golden Gate bridge. He has been focused on sustainability issues (in particular, Climate Change issues) and certification of “greener” or sustainable products at several notable start-up companies. These include UL Environment, (a new business of the 116+ year old nonprofit Underwriters Labs), Cooler Inc., Carbonfund.org and the Social Venture Network, where he has worked with many of the biggest consumer product brands to look at the impacts of their products. This experience has allowed Michael to work with action sports lifestyle brands to evaluate the environmental impacts of products, services, and events. And where possible, to consult on how to reduce/compensate/offset those environmental impacts with “certified” environmental projects like tropical reforestation, renewable energy, etc. Michael has been a longtime volunteer with Surfrider, and is the current vice chair of the San Francisco chapter of Surfrider (www.sfsurfrider.org) as well as an adviser to the Save the Waves Coalition (www.savethewaves.org). Michael lives with his wife and all his various wave riding vehicles in a cramped apartment in the foggiest part of San Francisco, where he is constantly looking for regular (fair-trade/shade-grown/organic/locally-roasted) drip coffee – and trying to always remember to bring his own dang coffee mug.
Kevin is a green business entrepreneur and geologist. Kevin led the development of the business plan for Imagine Surf, which successfully raised a $2M investment from venture capital to rapidly become one of the largest Stand Up Paddleboard makers in the world. Kevin spent one year as the Director of Operations and Sustainability for Imagine Surf, in part developing more sustainable manufacturing operations and learning the challenges of sustainable surfboard manufacturing for a company that manufactures both locally and internationally in Asia. Prior to that, Kevin worked in San Francisco for the cleantech startup Climos, designing technology to remove large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere by enhancing natural biological absorption in the ocean. Solving the problem of climate change has been the focus of his career after learning about it while studying geology in between surf sessions as an undergraduate at UC San Diego in 1990. After a brief stint studying permafrost dynamics in Antarctica for his M.S. in Geology, Kevin switched to the private sector to work as a consultant in the fields of CO2 mitigation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.
Despite all of the efforts on technological and business solutions to climate change, Kevin believes that the ultimate solution depends on social innovations that create a deeper connection between people and the natural world. It is not enough to design a green surfing product. That is only the beginning. What matters is how the green products are used to help develop sustainable community among the people that buy them. This is why surfing can become highly influential in moving society towards a sustainable future.