This is the first of a series of posts investigating environmental impacts of some of my favourite sports.
Why? Because I care about the environment and I want to make sure I minimise my footprint, but I also love being active and particularly being active outdoors so I want to ensure I don't impact my surroundings while I enjoy myself...
Let's start with a water sport - SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding)
Where is it practiced?
Seas, Oceans, Lakes, Rivers - basically anywhere there is water!
What does it involve?
The name is pretty self explanatory - a board and a paddle. No engines or motorised parts, just human power or nature power when practiced on waves or rapids.
Potential sources of environmental impacts
- Disturbing nature
As always when we are out in nature, we need to remember that we are the intruders. Often when you are paddleboarding you will enter some very peaceful habitats and may encounter wildlife. Remember to keep your distance and observe from far away, try not to disturb birds or mammals by getting too close. A
Now, this is where some of these 'seemingly environmentally friendly' sports have some less-friendly impacts... SUP boards are often made from plastic materials which are very toxic in the making but can also leach out toxins (that act as endocrine disruptors with negative consequences for the aquatic life!), and include epoxy resins which are also full of toxic components..
Also where are these boards made? Often they are made with cheap labour from third world countries, with not only high environmental impacts but also negative effects for human welfare... really makes you think!
But.. what makes you think also makes you find some solutions:
Sustainable boards do exist
Sustainable materials include wooden boards, however make sure to choose sustainable woods such as bamboo! Technology is also advancing and new materials, such as cloth made from flax and bioresins are starting to become available, although maybe still too expensive (and it will reflect on the price of the board). If you are thinking of investing in your own board, think of going as environmentally friendly as possible, and why not go even community friendly and find a local shaper?
Inflatable boards are now also a thing, and while they are also very convenient for transport they are more environmentally friendly than their hardboard counterpart... so perhaps it could be an interim solution. And many surf school are now employing them, so you can always be eco friendly even if you are a beginner..
And talking of surf schools: if you live in South West England (or planning a holiday there), I recommend you to check out the 'Paddle Shack', Alana will coach you right from the beginning to get you up and going in no time! They offer a range of trips as well after you learnt the basics, which include a discovery trip (and Alana is a great marine biologist, which will introduce you to the marine life while guaranteeing it will be fully respected!) and also a SUP and SIP - tempted yet?? Go check them out on their Facebook page.
Some pics from the 'shack...'
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