Creating your own Stand Up Paddle Clean Up in the Area You Paddle
Stewardship with Brent Allen Outside
Stewardship in our aquatic communities is a responsibility everyone needs to embrace in protecting our waters. We happen to be situated in a complex time that requires all hands on deck to bring awareness in our own communities to the man made issues that are polluting our oceans. Plastic was created in 1907 and every piece of plastic created is on our planet in some form or another. As the worlds population grows so does our use of disposable plastic. Half of all plastic products are considered disposable single use items, but no one considered the indestructibility of plastic. The reality of climate change is being seen around the world with massive hurricanes that are sweeping through our country and also sweeping tons of trash into the ocean.
I really don’t like dwelling on problems as much what are the solutions to these issues. Stand Up Paddle has more people than ever before experiencing the great outdoors and embracing environmental stewardship. Stand Up Paddle is very similar to hiking , it allows us to view what is under the water, on the water, and the land that borders the water. We have this unencumbered space to breath, see nature, and live the fitness lifestyle. We get so much from being in the worlds oceans, rivers, lakes etc. We do have an absolute responsibility to not let what brings us so much happiness get destroyed.
Take ownership of a specific area of water in your community:
Most people that surf have very specific breaks they frequent. You learn over time the seasons of how the ocean creates waves, the direction surf moves , sand bars, reefs, wind, currents and on and on. 80% of trash in our oceans has come from land based locations.
- Create you’re own case study on how trash is channeled into the specific area you paddle. The area that I have focused includes: Pebble Beach, CA, Carmel, CA,Carmel River State Beach, Carmel River Lagoon/wetlands, Monastery Beach and Point Lobos State Reserve. All of this area is located in The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. https://montereybay.noaa.gov.
- Create data on what types of trash or pollution are making their way into your specific area of water. The locations above include many types of aquatic environments including a Bay, 3 Coves, 1 River, 1 wetland, Kelp Forrests, underwater canyon, and open ocean. The simplest way to collect data is to using one of these two Apps: https://litterati.org or https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/international-coastal-cleanup/cleanswell/ FYI if you work in the tech industry create your own app. this form of data collection will only grow. If you work collaboratively with ocean conservation groups they will most likely have forms for example: www.saveourshores.org and www.surfrider.org.
What gear will I need to organize my clean up:
- We use either milk crates or small buckets held down with bungee cords or existing tie downs that are already installed on the deck of the board. I have used small towels under the milk crates , so you don’t scratch the deck. Trash bags tied in the milk crates will allow for small items to not blow away.
- If you are in gnarly/polluted water I would recommend wearing rubber gloves . To collect smaller floating items we use mini pool cleaning nets (found at pool cleaning supply locations or hardware stores ) they have fine mesh netting that will pick up micro-plastics or butterfly nets.
- We use a drop cloth to lay out the plastics and trash for inventory and separation. Take photos and dispose in either recyclable or trash. Try to reuse plastic trash bags or for larger amounts of trash use burlap coffee bean bags. Most every coffee roaster will happily provide bags for this environmental stewardship. This also brings more small community businesses into being part of the collaborative community effort.
- Video and Photography is key in promoting what your doing in the local or national media. We always put GoPro’s on several different boards and poles to help tell the story. Coordinate a photographer to shoot the event. This will allow everyone involved in the clean up to promote and bring awareness in their own social media.
- I like to use inflatable stand up paddle boards for river clean ups because they ride higher in the water, lighter to portage, can use smaller fin, and a lot less likely to damage. Many already have cargo nets installed. I use KIALOA Insanity Adjustable paddles. You can adjust on the fly and durable carbon fiber paddles will not get damaged.
- River clean ups usually require a canoe to off load larger items pulled from the under the water or riverbanks. Always having a small shovel in your equipment to dislodge submerged tires and other heavier items will come in handy.
- Pick seasonal times that provide slower currents and calmer seas.
Collaborate with your community:
- The greater diversity of the community you get involved the greater the impact.
- I call it adventure stewardship. Showing people the different locations in your area to paddle will expand their horizons and expand their working knowledge of how trash/plastics are effecting your liquid landscape. The area I paddle has an incredible diversity of marine mammals, fish, seabirds etc. Giving people the cause and effect of the impact in specifics is a top priority.
- These are some examples of the groups in my community that have been involved: CA State Parks, The Surfrider Foundation, Save Our Shores, The Wahine Project, Ke Kai Outrigger Canoe Club, Cali Paddler, local business owners, University Professors, local media, School teachers, and outdoor industry friends.
Live by example and people will join you.
The primary goal:
- Historically on the coastal parts of our country beach clean ups have been in place for years. River clean ups have also been another form of environmental work done with canoes and kayaks. Stand Up Paddle being the fastest growing water sport in the world is also bringing with it an entirely different view of our waters.
- Leaving our oceans and rivers better than we found them.
- Being the catalyst for change in how people view using single use plastics and why it is so important to not litter at our beaches and waterways.
- Create your own community media campaign to promote stewardship and bring awareness on how littering is harming local marine life and collectively ruining one thing we can not live without WATER!
- Awareness - Education - Action.
Don’t complain be an agent for change.