Action Sports and Environmentalism

Posted: April 22, 2014 in Essays and Musings
Tags: , , , , , ,

I used to think that being an action sports fan would put me at odds with being a lifetime environmentalist.  It was so hard to engage in a proper dialogue with my fellow FMX lovers because they only ever saw environmentalists as “the enemy” trying to deprive them of the opportunity to ride; it was equally difficult to bring up dirt bikes in a conversation about protecting the earth.  Once I asked my ecology teacher whether dirt bikes were really that bad, and she said the damage was in going off-course into protected land, not in pollution.

These days, I see a step forward with the shift to cleaner four-stroke engines, but motocross needs to catch up with the rest of the action sports community in embracing a greener lifestyle.  Enough about the negatives though.  Let’s properly celebrate Earth Day by focusing on how action sports enthusiasts are also environmentalists.

Surfrider Foundation began with three Malibu surfers trying to save First Point.  Now the organization works to protect coastal and ocean ecosystems in eighteen countries through research, education, and activism.  Their programs are proof that everybody who loves water can co-exist as they promote sustainable living, public beach access, gardening methods that reduce run-off pollution, and ways to improve water quality.

The Surfrider Foundation's publication

The Surfrider Foundation’s publication

This past weekend, surfers in Bali got together for the final Beach Clean Up event.  Staff members from Quiksilver, Surfer Girl, Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia, and other organizations worked with locals, journalists, and surfers to pick up over three thousand kilograms of trash over the course of the four events.

Snowboarders have shown just as much initiative with Marie-France Roy making a movie about her environmentally conscious peers and Jamie Anderson and Elena Hight promoting eco-friendly clothing.

The X Games also took to promoting REPREVE’s water bottle-made beanies.

I was a bit worried over the environmental impact of Red Bull Supernatural, but I should have known better.  Travis Rice and Red Bull actually brought in a forester and a biologist to make sure the event wouldn’t do any harm.  When concerns were raised about the local pine population, the builders made sure not to cut down any.  This is a perfect example of how to build a course without negatively impacting natural habitats.

In reaction to the impact of climate change on winter sports, Jeremy Jones, one of the riders featured in Roy’s film, created Protect Our Winters (POW).  Last year, the non-profit petition for President Obama to abandon the Keystone XL pipeline in favor of more renewable energy sources.  Various winter sports athletes banned together via POW to form the Riders Alliance, and their activism caught the attention of The Sierra Club, just in time for the Olympics.  POW actually utilized the publicity generated by the Olympics to raise awareness on climate change, and they’ve partnered with North Face to educate students.

Also featured in Sierra Club publications is Bob Burnquist.  He’s the co-founder of the Action Sports Environmental Coalition, which played a role in the X Games’ early efforts to go green.  He has worked with Chipotle, Whole Foods, and Oakley to promote sustainable living.

The ASEC site hadn’t been updated in a couple of years, but I hope they’re still active.  Regardless of where you choose to practice your sport, it’s important to consider the environment and protect the earth.  If even it’s something small like picking up after ourselves (and our friends) and not using plastic bottles, we as a community can help make a difference.  Happy Earth Day!

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