The Voice of Youth: Saving Our Oceans

india-plastic2We recently wrote about a group of middle schoolers in India who sent 20,000 plastic wrappers back to the manufacturer asking them to change the packaging to keep plastic out of the environment and the ocean.

That was a powerful story and one that solidly reinforces the premise behind the Blue Life Journal Curriculum (Grades 4-8) we created for teachers. (Available at no cost for the 2018-2019 school year) When young people are given a tool, like the Blue Life Journal for Kids, and engaging stories demonstrating hope, innovation, imagination, invention and connection as a solution path vs the enormous challenge of plastic – the future looks bright.

We recently read an article about an expedition partially sponsored by Starboard, Eat Less Plastic. This expedition which will sail to remote parts of the globe and sift small “microplastics” from the ocean will spend five months sailing the South Pacific. They will go to  areas that have never been tested for microplastics and other marine debris.

The mission is funded through Love The Sea, a Hawaii-based non-profit run by Campbell Farrell—himself an accomplished big-wave surfer as well as paddleboard racer. Originally from New Zealand.  The Ultimate Waterman, Starboard Dream Team athlete and co-author of the Blue Life Journal, Zane Schweitzer, is throwing his support behind the journey as one of its ambassadors. The message shared by expeditions of this type are loud and clear – we need to re-design plastic and stop the flow at the source, with manufacturing.Eat-Less-Plastic-An-Epic-4-month-Voyage-Across-The-Southern-Pacific-Ocean-2

When it comes to coastal cleanups Campbell Farrell, a surfer, ECO/Ocean advocate, Starboard Ambassador and businessman says that “beverage containers and straws get a lot of flak, but when you go and do a beach cleanup, every industry I can think of, whether it’s automotive, sporting, fashion, of toothbrushes, is showing up on the beaches every day. The entire world and every industry needs to stop and take a look at their consumption of plastics. It’s going to take big commercial players to step up.”

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Starboard’s Svein Rasmussen walks the talk – with gusto!

Manufacturers with philosophies like Starboard and their “Starboard Blue” commitment can lead the way. Leaders and those in the role of CEO, like Starboard’s Svein Rasmussen, are working hard to share the message. But there are endless more manufacturers who need to really HEAR the message. Sometimes it just takes the collective voice of youth – the future stewards of our planet. We are certain that when teachers share our Blue Life Curriculum with their students that the students will take up the cause through their optimism, idealism, hope for the future and fresh perspective.

Plastic Litter: Are We Really the Culprits?

india-plastic1Visit any school cafeteria on any given day and look around at the plastic wrappers for snacks, juice boxes, cookies, single serve lunch kits and other items. Most of those wrappers end up in the trash and most, if not all, cannot be recycled. Even the most “green” teacher or student has little choice in this scenario.

Students from one middle school in the port city of Thoothukudi (India) collected more than 20,000 packaged food wrappers in less than two weeks, sorted them out and mailed them back to the companies who manufactured them. City councilors in India are encouraging school children to round up packaging of this sort and mail it back to the manufacturers. Think of all the “blue life” lessons that could be embedded into an activity like this is any school.

More than 10,ooo of the wrappers came from a company called Britannia (owned primarily by Nabisco) which makes biscuits, bread and cakes.

Along with the wrappers, the students sent a letter: india-plastic2

“We are happy with the taste and quality of your products, but unhappy with the plastic packaging. We want to ensure a safe environment for our future generations and minimize our plastic footprint. We have decided to collect used plastic wrappers of your products and send them to you for safe disposal. Please help us savor your products without guilt, by introducing eco-friendly packaging.”

We are 100% sure we will be creating a segment of the Blue Life Curriculum (Grades 4-8) that will include options for similar activities along with engagement with city officials. Inspire younger generations with a desire for change and they’ll forge ahead. They have an optimistic views and are idealistic enough to TRY! So important.

What do you think? The more pressure that is placed on companies to handle their own waste, as opposed to consumers, the sooner we’ll see deposit strategies and bulk stores that allow reusable containers appearing in our cities.

This type of awareness and waste-collection project will affect the students’ own long-term lifestyle habits. It’s a unique project that most kids will consider important – and even fun. Most likely they will talk to their families and influence wider-reaching habit shifts. That’s our hope for all the “blue life” tribe.

To any teachers out there, if you want to receive our Blue Life Curriculum (Grades 4-8) at no cost, or learn more about its full resources and alignment to standards, just CONTACT us.

 

 

What’s a “Blue Life” Choice: Sustainability Rocks

We recently came across a comprehensive article (July 28, 2018) written by Trammell S. Crow for the Dallas Morning News. Trammell is the heart and soul behind the far-reaching and hugely successful EarthX held each spring in Dallas. The commentary talks about how our awareness of the negative impact of plastic straws might lead us to more broad-reaching change of habits and attitudes that could protect the world’s oceans.

Best of all, he outlined a six-point plan that provides each of us with actions and choices we can begin to adopt right now. The more we know about choices, the more creative, innovative and inspired our daily entries in our Blue Life Journal can become.

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Your “blue life” choices can generate sustainability

Here’s the list from Trammell’s commentary:

“Together with environmental sustainability nonprofits EarthX and Future 500, these leaders developed a six-point plan to protect the world’s oceans. Cutting plastic pollution was high on that list, but we didn’t stop there.

We detailed six ways consumers and corporations could combine their buying power in order to get to the root causes of ocean destruction.

Government can help, but consumers have the real power, if we learn to use it. We can save the oceans by only supporting brands and companies that:

• Shift to clean-burning fuels on cargo and cruise ships.

• Offer only sustainable seafood, never from illegal or untraceable sources.

• Avoid minerals, oil and gas mined in ways that threaten fisheries, reefs and complex marine ecosystems.

• Buy plastic products only from providers who join a comprehensive global system to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics, and prevent marine debris from entering the ocean, especially in nations that don’t have recycling infrastructures.

• Buy meat and produce only from farms and ranches that strictly reduce chemical runoff — the chief cause of ocean dead zones that kill fisheries and hurt people whose livelihoods depend on them.

• Commit to corporate and public policies that will drive down ocean acidification and coral reef death, which threaten our food supply and, ultimately, survival.

By the way, the actions that reduce acidification and coral destruction, which are not under debate, are the same that protect the climate, a problem that some still deny.

Those six steps are all within reach. Responsible business executives, consumers and political leaders I know from both parties agree they are necessary.

But they won’t happen until citizens organize across party lines and aim for systemic solutions that are bigger than just a ban on straws.

That requires we step past our polarized political system. Polls show that 70 percent of Americans, on the right and left, can find solutions on almost any issue if we just talk with one another.

Saying no to straws is a first step; it is tangible, easy and helps start a conversation.

Let’s keep talking and find collaborative solutions that can stem the tide of ocean destruction.”

And let’s keep our daily practice of writing in our Blue Life Journal going strong – sharing that experience with others. Connect with us by sharing your ideas and stories HERE.

ECO Innovation Hero: Svein Rasmussen – Starboard Blue

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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.

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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!

Your Blue Life Strategy: Build on Genius

Everybody’s heard, “Don’t re-invent the wheel.” This phrase has never been more true than in our quest to save the Ocean, reduce single use plastic, save marine life – and ourselves.

As innovative and mindful as each of us is about our personal choices and habits, the collective power of us supporting the network of larger efforts is even more.  In the Blue Life Journal we invite individuals to make mindful plans each morning for their “Blue Life” intentions.  Over time, people will write things like, “Brought my re-usable cup to coffee shop,” or “bought a stainless steel straw to avoid plastic straws.”

The ways we can personally change habits is good. But writing those choices over time might feel like “too little.” That’s when your Blue Life Journal can step up to be life changing.  We include a section in the Journal called Connections. It is similar to what we offer in a small way in this Conversation.

Learn about larger efforts, successful “blue life initiatives, innovative solutions and join the momentum of their strength in numbers. If you are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media – use your platform to share what you learn and connect your energy and ideas to the empowering opportunities. Discover who we follow – FOLLOW us and we will FOLLOW back. Blue Life on Twitter, Blue Life on Facebook.

Some examples of ways you can take a group’s BIG IDEA and bring it home – making your Blue Life” the source of inspiration for many are below.  For instance, if you live near a harbor or marina – be the leader that gets a SeaBin installed. We list many more on our PEOPLE AND PROJECTS page.

seabin-1The SeaBin Project. (Link to overview)

The Back Story:  Once upon a time, two surfers got sick of swimming in garbage. Unlike most of us, they decided to do something about it. In 2015, Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski quit their jobs and sourced seed funding from Shark Mitigation Systems to design a prototype ocean garbage collecting ‘Seabin’. This began a journey of research and product development that would take them around the world. Today, they are finally bringing their invention home to Australia.

The Seabin Project develops upstream solutions for waterways adjacent to high population areas, such as marinas, ports and public waterways. This is a front-line approach: if you can capture the debris deposited into the water at its most common source (near land), less garbage will work its way out into the oceans.

 

The video story is available here: Link to video