ECO Innovation Hero: Svein Rasmussen – Starboard Blue

Photo credit: Georgia S Photography

The more I learn about Starboard, the more I admire its founder, Svein Rasmussen.  His commitment to “blue life” choices goes far beyond the personal and influences everything involved in the corporate presence of Starboard. (excellent interview here) Svein shares this, “The oceans where we practice watersports regulate the climate and house 99% of the biosphere, controlling the weather and providing oxygen for every breath we take.” From planting mangroves, education the next generation of stewards to reducing plastic and carbon footprint in every aspect of Starboard’s processes, Svein innovates and inspires consistently.

A hands-on leader living his passion while creating an amazing life

A title that matters to Svein is that of “Chief Innovator” and in that role his life is focused on drilling into every little part of the Starboard organization, trying to make it better. Svein explains, “Starboard is a product driven company so I spend most of my time driving the product development and environmental strategies together with our British product manager Ollie O’Reilly. We have been ahead of the curve in terms of shapes and technology and often create what we call 100% market share, meaning during the first year there simply is no similar product in the market.”

Innovation does not end with “first to market.” Svein hopes to make Starboard a truly influential company where short term profit comes second to creating a better tomorrow for all of us. He doesn’t keep his innovations in that area to himself. Rather, Svein is a global leader.

Recently (May 2018) Svein Rasmussen, shared some tough truths about plastic pollution in the ocean and in our lives with the members of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand — and encouraged them to take the lead in the industry change. His message was loud and clear as he encouraged others to join Starboard and pioneer the change to a more sustainable way to do business. After all, he posed this crucial question, “Do governments produce plastic? Do waste managers produce trash? Commerce produce plastic trash and is ultimately responsible.

Some suggestions offered are important steps that should be in discussion in every corporation and workplace –

  • Awareness.
  • Start with the office. No single-use plastics allowed at work.
  • Motivate and encourage your employees to be part of the movement.
  • Calculate your carbon emissions and plastic use, then reduce it.
  • Reinvent your business to reduce the overall waste and the dependence on primary materials and energy.
  • Start seeing the economic and social benefits.

It takes a village, it takes a team. Recognizing the work of others comes naturally for Svein. In discussing where Starboard has come Svein gives heartfelt thanks to people like Ollie O’Reilly for driving our awesome eco board projects and Starboard’s partners Parley, SUP Kids, Sustainable Surf, Watertrek and Arne Fjoertoft at the Thor Heyerdahl Mangrove Park

We can all recognize steps toward a solution that align with our area of influence and location. It might seem that planting a mangrove is a small thing, but when doen in cooperation with others the impact is powerful. Most of us are unaware of the impact of a mangrove. Here is why Svein cares so much, “Mangroves have a vital role in protection of lives and properties in vulnerable coastal communities from tsunamis and extreme weather. Mangroves increase sea food stocks up to 50% and have several important features that help curb climate change.”

Let’s be individually and collectively inspired by this visionary leader and waterman, Svein Rasmussen.
A video of a visionary

Corporations with a conscience and true commitment to saving our Oceans “walk the talk,” and that is not easy.

In addition to creating Gold Standard products, Starboard is involved with several initiatives to reduce their footprint and impact on the environment:

 Starboard is taking responsibility for its role in the plastic industry by offsetting their plastic footprint. This involves calculating exactly how much plastic goes into production and are now removing 48 metric tons of ocean plastic in 2018 to create a positive impact on the planet – instead of a negative one. For every board sold – Starboard collects 2 kg of ocean plastic. Starboard’s Plastic Offset Program funds local cleanups and puts a financial value on discarded plastic. 

Who can YOU talk to at work, among your social and SUP circles, within community organizations. Be the inspiration and innovation!

Simple Life Hack: Your Reusable Bottle

I actually get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I see people leaving the “big box” or grocery store with a plastic wrapped case of water in 24 or more plastic bottles. SERIOUSLY? Unless local water is unavailable or contaminated – why?????

There are so many BPA free and stainless reusable water bottle options. Can there be a more simple way to eliminate one of the most prevalent plastic polluters around?

plastic-bottle-pollution-20473936You may already practice this simple habit of bringing your own water bottle. Do the Ocean a favor and share this with friends who might not realize the following information. The Ocean, our voiceless friend, will be forever grateful.
This is from the RecycleBank website (FOLLOW on Twitter @RecycleBank) for endless great information)

Bottled Water vs. The Environment

Bottled water contributes to physical waste.

With bottled water, you get an enormous amount of, well, bottles. And for the last couple of years, the amount of plastic bottles being recycled keeps falling, which means more plastic bottles are going to the landfill — or the ocean, where they are damaging marine ecosystems — and represent a waste of the resources that went into making the bottle. Speaking of…

It takes more water to make a plastic bottle of water than goes in the bottle.

Yes. For example, Coca-Cola told Mother Jones in 2014 that it used 1.63 liters of water to produce every liter of water bottled. That’s quite a waste of water!

Now here’s a little tidbit to top it all off: A not insignificant amount of bottled water is just bottled municipal water anyway … AKA the same water you get from your tap.1

Ready to switch yet? We promise it doesn’t have to be hard. You can get filters for your tap water so you can feel more confident in the quality of the water from your sink, and then use glasses and reusable bottles (bonus: reusable bottles with measurements on them are a good way to make sure you’re drinking enough water each day!). Reusable bottles are the solution if you’re out running errands, too. It’s even possible to host a party without using bottled water — just fill up a few pitchers of water and dole out reusable cups. You can do it!

SOURCES: 1 NRDC, Mayo Clinic, Healthline, Food & Water Watch, Resource Recycling

Picking up Plastic Litter: A Game?

litterati tomato
These tomatoes did NOT ask to be packaged in single use plastic

Strolling along a roadside, a forested trail or a beach is all part of my outdoor fun. When I can’t be paddling or surfing, cycling or skiing – I explore on two legs. And yes, I pick up other people’s litter. Today I picked up a plastic container (single use) used to wrap some tomatoes. I had just bought 3 beautiful organic tomatoes wrapped only in what nature provided. Those tomatoes made it to my salad just fine – no need for any additional plastic armor. But this time, I posted that plastic box on a cool app on my phone – Litterati. That made the act of picking up the litter more meaningful.

It’s annoying sometimes (all the time) to think of the person making the CHOICE (and it is a choice) to toss their single use plastic and trash out a car window or into a river or lake. But like so many of you – we are consistently stewards of the ocean and the environment. Geo-tagging litter and being part of a global community tagging and counting all we pick up with the Litterati app DID make the process more fun.

I just recently started using that app called Litterati .  The app, developed by Jeff Kirschner, does its best to make it fun to pick up trash. I enjoyed hearing his TED talk (you can too – it is just 6 minutes long) about the journey toward Litterati. We crowdsource many things – this time it is all about small actions for a cleaner planet.

The earth is a big place to keep clean. With Litterati — an app for users to identify, collect and geotag the world’s litter — TED Resident Jeff Kirschner has created a community that’s crowdsource-cleaning the planet. After tracking trash in more than 100 countries, Kirschner hopes to use the data he’s collected to work with brands and organizations to stop litter before it reaches the ground. Now THAT is the way to stop it at its source.

Additionally, I like this video showing the power of kids – our best hope for the future.

And for all of us, here is an article sharing ways to make our next trip grocery shopping ZERO-WASTE. 


Your Passion Fuels Ocean Solutions

During the time period of January – June 2018 many individuals that are passionate about “being the Blue Life solution” for our voiceless friend, the Ocean, will be using the Blue Life Journal. If you want your “early release” copy of the Blue Life Journal (coming August 1, 2018) Pre-order here.

ashleybdrone2In a challenging, even overwhelming, situation whether in business, life – or our fragile environment – creativity is the ability to design original, meaningful ideas that shake the foundations of traditional “The way we’ve always done it” mindset. (Photo Credit: Karim Illya of Ashley Baxter)

The lone creative genius who has the “fix it” innovation represents old school thinking. Today, in teams, environmental organizations and businesses across the world, it’s true that no one person holds all the pieces of the puzzle. For that reason we have created this CONVERSATIONS vehicle so that creativity can be nurtured and supported throughout Blue Life Journal Publications. Together, we connect and collaborate by the daily practice of Blue Life Journal-ing. We will create the very survival and hope the Ocean requires by offering up our own ideas and building on those of others. Organizations, innovative projects and – YOU! Connect and share via your social media. Check us out on Twitter.

Hope will come from the groundswell; the people and the Blue Life community. It has to, because our viral explosion of ideas can fuel the next SUPERTREND.  (Click to Learn More)

Individual small actions will drive the habits central to the health of our Oceans – and our own survival. All of this is very good news to us because our core competency is connecting people, into communities that ‘Innovate and Inspire.” Together, we have the power to change our environment.

Choices and Heroes

I make a choice every day to seek ways that I can innovate and inspire – myself and others. I am Judy Shasek of Water Words. Because of the power of social media we can all connect our small daily actions and influence to change the devastation of our Ocean. We learn from those we FOLLOW and share our innovations and inspiration. This article talks about just one of our HEROES.

table-of-contentsThe Process of Blue Life Connections? As co-author of Blue Life Journal with Zane Schweitzer we are working to create an avalanche of “Blue Life” actions. Every morning I write in my journal (Your Blue Life Journal is available for pre-order before its August 1 release).  By writing short entries guided by the cues, the tone and intention for my day is mindfully established. The journey is always easier with a road map. Through our online CONNECTIONS COMMUNITY we can expand the influence of the heroes among us.

This is from Blue Life Journal co-author, Zane Schweitzer, “Sometimes things align in a way that connects where we want to go with opportunity. I had the almost unimaginable honor of being one of the influential individuals invited to the Maldives for a trip with Parley for the Oceans to attend the Parley Ocean School early in 2017. Founder, Cyrill Gutsch, is a German-born and world renowned designer and creative entrepreneur based in New York City.

Related imageThere are heroes and mentors all around us: Cyrill Gutsch is a mentor to many. Yet, in 2012, a meeting with activist, Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and co-founder of Greenpeace, convinced Cyrill to take on his most challenging client; the world’s oceans. He had the particular objective of focusing attention on the multiple threats facing this vital ecosystem and on establishing a new business culture where it is more lucrative to protect the oceans than to destroy them.” (For the most up-to-date information of Cyrill’s work and deep thinking on the topic, FOLLOW him on Instagram  and TwitterImage result for cyrill gutsch parley for the oceans

This is from the Parley for the Oceans website,  Jacques Cousteau said, “people protect what they love.” But before you can love something you need to know it, and there’s no better way to learn than through total immersion within the blue universe we’re fighting to preserve and protect. This belief guides the curriculum of Parley Ocean School, a unique program blending ocean activism with learning and exploration on, around, and in the marine environment.

Zane explains this further, “I spend most of my life in, on or under the ocean. However, I had no idea how much I didn’t know about the ocean and the scope of the devastation plastic is causing. Through a series of global marine expeditions, Parley Ocean School (POS) is educating and empowering ambassadors for what might seem like an impossible mission. Each session of POS is dedicated to deepening scientific understanding of marine cultures and environments, with a focus on promoting stewardship, awareness, and solutions in local communities. Every POS alumni leaves with a renewed understanding of their role in this world, and of the actions they can take to protect it in the office, by the sea and at home. I was completely inspired to become the best ocean-advocate I could be after the experience at this Parley Ocean School.

As a waterman following generations of my own family in their connection to, not only the ocean, but also the air, the wind and nature, it is completely natural for me to have a vision of a healthy vibrant ocean. For many who visit the ocean infrequently, or maybe only while on vacation, it looks like a healthy, vibrant ecosystem. But, compared to what?”

The term “shifting baseline syndrome” is an expression coined by fisheries scientist, Daniel Pauly. It describes the memory loss from one generation to the next. As one generation disappears, so does the knowledge of what once was. If a child never hears about the way a forest, a snow covered peak or the ocean was a generation or two ago, that memory is lost. Since birth I have been blessed with hearing stories and memories from my ‘ohana. Our family stories recall the way the ocean was twenty, forty or more years ago. Think about young people who are the second or third generation of families not connected to either the ocean or to nature.

By being disconnected from the past, we are also disconnected from the future. As aware as I am, being in the ocean every day I can be, I was not 100% aware of the dire situation that is the health of the oceans. While at Parley Ocean School, I was shocked by the story of plastic and the devastating impact it has on the albatross. I watched the film, “Albatross” produced by Chris Jordan and it affected me in both my heart and my gut. While a huge part of the plastic debris is washing up on beaches where it can be collected relatively easily like we do at beach cleanups, the majority of the plastic has broken down into small pieces 1/4 of an inch or smaller. The plastic trash is scattered over massive areas and is not easily visible or collected.

After experiencing Parley Ocean School, thinking about the best way I could use my influence and my network was my challenge. It required innovation to discover how I can best use my experience and talents to impact people in my own way. Doing speaking engagements and clinics around the world is one way. Writing Beneath the Surface was another. I am teaming with writer, creative, environmentalist and educator, Judy Shasek, to bring the Blue Life Journal to the world. It’s our vision that the Blue Life Journal will ignite a movement that will serve the Oceans – and our own survival.

The oceans are dying. But it’s not too late to save them. Only passion and creativity on a collaborative level will end marine plastic pollution. Cyrill Gutsch shares The Parley A.I.R.  Strategy as a way to addresses the fast-growing and global threat of plastic pollution based on the belief that plastic is a design failure, one that can only be solved if we reinvent the material itself. He shares, “We all have a role to play in the solution. Let’s invent our way out of this mess. Together.”

I know that Cyrill is right. We need to do this “together.” Even before returning home from Parley Ocean School my action had begun. One by one I spoke with my sponsors and explained the need to re-invent and re-design from packaging to product. It was fantastic to hear ideas from my sponsors immediately. Some had already taken steps towards eco innovations such as Starboard teaming up with Sustainable Surf, Parley For The Ocean and Water Trek to combine innovative quality with an alternative means of production using environmentally friendly materials.  Beyond that, Starboard is making a huge commitment to take away damage that has already been done by planting one mangrove tree for every single Starboard product sold. A mangrove’s lifespan has the potential to remove 1 ton of CO2 from our atmosphere. The tree’s roots act as a filtration system in the water and ground. In addition, it’s an ecosystem and refuge for small fish. The roots stretch into the ground almost like a protective cage. See more on Starboard Blue

What challenges align with your life mission and the path toward manifesting your future? Who are the creators and collaborators you can influence and inspire? What tools are available to reinvent and redesign the journey, the solutions and your dreams?

The connections you need, the opportunities and tools are available. Learning from your past and living authentically in your present requires mindful observation and reflection on every day, no matter how ordinary or challenging it might seem at the time.  I’ve learned that my dedication to capturing my moments, experiences, and emotions in my journal has lead to major success in following my dreams and keeping on track with achieving them. Journaling has kept me grounded and present in the midst of my life’s chaotic routine.

The process proved to me how important it is to not only consistently work towards our dreams by keeping them locked in our heart and in our minds, but also by taking action toward achieving them. My friend and mentor, Suzie Cooney always says, “The mind wins first.” That’s accomplished by taking a step towards your goals every day- even if it’s just the smallest step, and believing in yourself. The  Blue Life Journal evolved naturally from response to Beneath the Surface. Everything is unfolding as it should- just as my Grandma Carolyn would always tell me!

The stories of my life, of your life, are created by how we choose to live. For me to feel truly balanced I need to live life standing strong for what is pono- not only for myself, but for the greater good, for my environment and for the Ocean. My life is at its best when I live with respect for the land and for the sea – my home. Preparing for the future is key to who I might become. It’s interesting that making the video project, “Zane’s Deep Blue Life,” with my brother, Matty, Michael Stewart, and Hoku Haiku, began with the chance for me to “Learn from my past” and share a powerful message.