Here's what we're doing to protect the waterways and environment we love.
We run a monthly SUP based harbour clean-up for our members, partnering with Clean Up Bristol Harbour. It’s a relaxed event, a chance to catch up whilst helping to clean up our harbour. Paddleboards are particularly useful for getting to the awkward spots larger boats and land based clean-ups can’t – for example behind moored up boats and pontoons.
We love tying in some litter picking to our work with schools and young people. Collecting rubbish from the harbour and talking about how long various objects take to break down really brings the challenge of single use plastic to life. It’s also great fun, quite competitive and good for your SUP balance too! Where we have time we can sort litter into groups for recycling before weighing and logging – this data forms a national picture which is used to lobby government and big business for more fundamental change and regulation.
‘Our River’ Zoom Event Series
During lockdown 2021 we ran a popular series of environmental talks over Zoom. We interviewed inspiring people from the local area working to clean up the River Avon. Guests included Chloe and Jon from Clean Up Bristol Harbour, Natalie Fee from City to Sea, Johnny Palmer of Warleigh Weir Project, & Simon Hunter of Bristol Avon Rivers Trust. We learned a lot about our river (and the importance of good wifi!)
SUP delivery by E-bike
We regularly rotate our stock to keep it fresh, selling on used equipment. We use an electric cargo bike to deliver boards or take them to the post office. This helps us cut down on our carbon footprint, cuts congestion in the city and saves us loads of time. Our record is three boxed boards in one go!
Sustainable equipment design
We see the impacts of plastic in our waterways everywhere we paddle and feel the responsibility to protect the world we encourage our customers to explore. To this aim we work with equipment manufacturers who factor sustainability into their products from the design stage up. Most of our school equipment is made by Red Paddle Co, who are working super hard to improve the sustainability of their equipment, recently becoming B Corp accredited.
Equipment is designed for disassembly, using pure material where possible, and is now 100% waste free at production. Boards arrive packed in cardboard rather than plastic, making opening new kit a joy.
Building high quality equipment means gear lasts a lifetime and Red do this better than anyone else, backing their products with a five year guarantee. After a season or two with us we sell them on for many years more fun and adventure.
Forays into PVC free product design
According to Greenpeace, PVC is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics. It’s packed with chemical additives, making recycling impractical and expensive, and its production and disposal results in the release of toxic, chlorine-based chemicals.
And yet it’s versatility and price makes it the obvious choice for durable inflatable paddleboards. We don’t know if it needs to be this way so we’re experimenting with making boards from TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). TPU is increasingly being used for lower performance items such as air mattresses because it doesn’t require all the plasticisers that PVC does, it doesn’t require toxic chemical treatment, and it can be biodegradable.
Rather than start our own paddleboard brand, we’re hoping to start important conversations about the use of PVC in paddleboard manufacturing.
We’re aware there are lots of arguments and counter arguments about bio-degradability, waste and carbon footprint – and we don’t pretend to understand it all – but we think that moving away from PVC is a positive step. And, with the EU planning its largest ever ban on toxic chemicals, it seems like good business sense for the industry too.
Here’s Alex testing our first prototype in August 2023.