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

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.

 

The Journey Begins

Inzane-super-groms-1Throughout 2018 Zane Schweitzer and Judy Shasek will be having conversations with surfers, stand up paddlers, caring citizens from around the globe. They will be speaking at schools, in the workplace, at Rotary Clubs and with groups concerned about the future of our Earth, and the Ocean. The goal: To engage a million+ individuals in the practice of making a Blue Life choice every day and writing it down in their Blue Life Journal.

That small, simple act will generate a mindset, strong habits and a tidal wave of inspiration that can turn the tide on the devastation inflicted on the environment – and our deep, blue Oceans.

Their inspiration has originated from a love of the Ocean, but their dedication to making a powerful, daily difference in the lives of millions has come from the example of so many hard-working and knowledgeable individuals. The organizations, individuals and groups featured in the first few CONVERSATIONS and the PEOPLE AND PROJECTS section include: Svein Rasmussen of Starboard and Starboard Blue, Cyrill Gutsch of Parley for the Oceans, and Michael Stewart of Sustainable Surf (Learn more here)

Together, each doing our small part consistently, we can change the world. Believe and Create! — Zane Kekoa Schweitzer