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Published on February 19th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor


Bringing Green into the Blue: Sustainability for Surfing Events

Oahu is famous for many things, but our very large waves and the related competitions that come every winter as the swells rise on the North Shore are perhaps the most fantastic. As the swells rise each winter, so does the amount of people– and the amount of waste.

Surfing events can be environmental nightmares, but I was heartened when I read that the Vans Triple Crown– one of the biggest surfing events in the world– has stepped up their sustainability game.

Why Sustainability is Important in Surfing

sustainability in surfing

As an island state, we have limited waste options, so all efforts towards waste reduction matter. Surf News Network, my source for surf and tide updates by phone and on the web, reports that the Triple Crown made a big focus on sustainability this year, using renewable energy, carbon offsets, and advanced waste diversion techniques for their events that attract thousands of visitors and locals to the North Shore of Oahu. SNN reports that the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (VTCS) was designated a Deep Blue Surfing Event guidelines by non-profit Sustainable Surf.

As explained on Sustainable Surf, a Deep Blue Surfing event:

“is a more ‘Ocean Friendly’ event, that sets a clear path for reducing environmental impacts of a professional surfing contest, while also providing social benefits for the local community. The program was developed through a partnership with the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) – North America that produced the first ever set of “Green Guidelines” for surfing contests in 2012.”

SNN reports that this is the third successive year of the Triple Crown measured and reported on their sustainability performance as outlined in the Deep Blue Surfing Event guidelines. Because of their continual reporting and monitoring, the sustainability performance has increased every year.

Sustainability in Surfing Highlights for 2015-2016 Season:

Some of the highlights of the sustainability performance of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing 2015 include the following:

  • $81,000 donated to North Shore charities and schools, to educate local children, protect the environment, and improve parks and beaches, with $41,000 supports local schools and youth education, and environmental protection of the North Shore and $40,000 paid for renovation of the public bathrooms at Haleiwa Beach Park.  This will benefit the North Shore community for many years to come.
  • 5,650 lbs of waste diverted from the landfill through partnership with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii
  • Waste diversion effort was expanded considerably, with 70% more waste collected by all three events. Over five tons of waste collected across 39 days of competition.
  • Waste food was composted at Waihuena Farm, across the street from Pipeline
  • Catering was provided by hyper-local foods from north shore farms, including Waihuena Farm
  • 36,000 plastic water bottles avoided by utilizing Flowater drinking stations, which prevents marine plastic pollution
  • Event banners are being upcycled into bags and totes by a Honolulu-based manufacturer, which creates local jobs
  • Event powered by B70 biodiesel produced on Hawaii by Pacific Biodiesel. This creates local jobs and reduces the environmental impact of the event. North Shore restaurants provide waste grease to be turned into biodiesel, such as Turtle Bay Resort
  • 100% of the carbon dioxide emissions offset using high quality certified carbon offsets. The total of 944 tons of CO2 offsets were purchased from the Valdivian Coastal Conservation Reserve in coastal Chile. This project protects temperate rainforest and creates a coastal marine reserve to protect local marine wildlife. Offsets were provided for round-trip air travel for athletes and staff; hotel accommodations for athletes and staff; energy use to power the event and local transportation for spectators to visit the event.

One of the other key points was waste diversion. On Oahu, we burn our trash to create energy, a controversial system for sure. Our local chapter of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii are tireless crusaders for waste diversion efforts around the islands, and are always super helpful at local events.

sustainable coastlines

This year there were a total 39 days total days of waste diversion, up from 12 days in 2014, and for the first time waste diversion services were provided on lay days and setup days leading to 5,650 lbs of waste was diverted from the landfill (2.8 tons @ 55% diversion ratio). The total volume of waste collected was up 70% from 2014, by covering more days with more staff, and by having more collection locations on the beach.

surfer image from Shutterstock

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