Life As A Surfer

The Environmental Impact of Surfing: Part Three – Travel

environmental impact of surfingSurfers are known for globetrotting. Disappearing at the drop of a hat to chase down a perfect swell. But while traveling, we are burning fuel in cars, airplanes, wave-runners, charter boats and off-road vehicles. Each journey we take produces greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. By understanding the impact we are having on the environment, we can take steps to reduce our impact.


Going To The Beach


If you are lucky enough to live close to the beach, walking or riding a bike are the best ways to get there. Your trip to the surf can be part of your warm up, getting your legs loosened up before your session. If, however, you have to drive to get to the beach, here are some ways to reduce your fuel consumption.

  1. Pack your car with as many people as physically and legally possible. Fewer cars equates to less CO2, better traffic flow and more economical and environmental driving, win win win win!
  2. If your car isn't full, fit your boards inside making the car more aerodynamic. It will reduce your drag and fuel consumption.
  3. Drive efficiently:
  • Stick to the speed limit, it can increase fuel efficiency by 33%
  • Remove excess weight, it can increase fuel efficiency by 23%
  • Avoid rapid acceleration and braking. Speed up and slow down gradually


Traveling Abroad


surf trip planeWhen that time of year comes around where you can start planning your surf getaway, think smart. Surf trips are amazing experiences and a reward for working hard the rest of the year, so don't get a guilty conscience by trashing the environment. Use these tips to minimize the environmental impact of your trip.


Choose Your Spot


There are destinations you can go that are greener than others, e.g. Costa Rica provides 96% of all its energy from renewable sources. Many famous surf spots are in wild areas filled with natural beauty. You can help preserve these locations by staying at eco friendly accommodations. Avoid hotels or complexes that have been built on cleared coral reefs, believe it or not some companies have been known to blow away parts of coral reefs to clear beaches for tourists and to make foundations for buildings such as hotels.




Try to travel in as direct a path as possible to avoid waste. When booking your flight look for a carbon offsetting option. A flight from California to South Africa creates over 5 tons of CO2e. A carbon offset usually costs about 4% of the cost of the flight and is worth every cent.


Be A Sustainable Tourist

surf trip souvenirsIf you travel to a less economically developed country, your impact on the local economy and environment might be greater than you are used to. To minimize your impact:


  • Buy locally produced souvenirs and food. Its good for the environment and the local economy
  • Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but memories
  • Don't fool around with the local girls


Tourists can have a massive detrimental effect on a local economy by using valuable resources and spending money at shops run by foreign companies which might not take care of the local people. Through a little research you can find ecologically sensitive companies and accommodation that work to preserve the local environment, culture & surf. Those companies help ensure that tourism is sustainable and that the spot will be around for years to come.

Rick Lomax BSc Hons and AIEMA


During his Surf Science degree Rick started looking at the carbon footprint of surfboards and compared the performance of sustainable plant based surfboards to traditional materials. He has since developed the Surfboard Carbon CalculatorTM and launched Decarbonated Consultancy a company on a mission to make the extreme sports industry environmentally sound.  He has presented his expert knowledge on Bio-based surfboards and Surfboard Life Cycle Analysisat the InCrops; Bio-Sports conference 2010 and the Regional Studies Association SW Annual conference 2010.

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