Growing In The Right Direction – Beach ‘N Boards Fest 2015

By Chase Newsom

Cocoa Beach Florida is not only the home town of the 11 time world champion Kelly Slater, it also serves as a Spring Break destination for many Americans who have been deterred by one of the coldest and longest winters ever. On March 13-16 Ron Jon surf shop hosted its annual “Beach n Board Fest” during a packed spring break weekend. The weekend hosted many events which included a tow-at airshow, a WSL junior pro, and a give back / sustainability campaign…Read the whole story here at


Posted in Events, Give Back Series, Industry News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mo Benefit for Mauli Ola Foundation

It’s been a few years since our last Give Back Series supporting Mauli Ola Foundation hit the shelves and was available for sale. We’re happy to say, though – the goods are back, and they’re looking sharp! While you may not be able to surf like Gav’ you might (dare I say “might!” ;) ) be able to look like him with these fresh for Summer threads…

If you’re not familiar with the Mauli Ola Foundation, do learn about the great work they’re doing to introduce surfing as a natural treatment to people with cystic fibrosis.  Since 20017, Mauli Ola (meaning “Breath of Life” in Hawaiian)  has taken nearly 1,300 CF patients surfing at nearly 100 Surf Experience Days and has now expanded it’s reach with hospital visits and other activities that touch the lives of kids with cancer and a variety of other health challenges. Awesome work, guys. We’re stoked to be able to donate a portion of the proceeds from each sale, back to the great work that Mauli Ola is doing. Check your local shop and ask for the Mo Benefit Boardshort, or the Mauli Ola Tee!

Posted in By Derek Sabori, Give Back Series, Industry News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Spreading the Word at the Volcom Pipe Pro

By Derek Sabori

Well, the event is about to wrap up, and I’m happy to report a record number of mentions and plugs for all the work we’ve put into the greening & community partnership aspects of the event. Maybe you heard a mention or two on the webcast? ;) OK, there were quite a few, I know, but I couldn’t be more stoked – It feels like people are genuinely excited about, and interested in, what’s going on behind the scenes. They’re contributing to ways to make it better, and offering advice on how to spread the word even more in the hopes of affecting even more change; outside of the immediate Volcom family.

I was there on the island for 4 days and got to see plenty of heats, and had the opportunity to reconnect with our partners there on the North Shore.  We held the pre-event meeting, toured Waihuena Farms, watched Jim DiCarlo make Bokashi (to more rapidly compost our waste), and had the honor of hanging out with this awesome team (below) to Talk Story and hype up the Volcom Pipe Pro Sustainability program at Pro at Surfer, the Bar.

We held a round table asking questions of each of the leaders and ambassadors there with me: Kahi Pacarro – Executive Director of Sustainable Coastlines, a student of Philosophy and Finance, turned Real Estate entrepreneur, turned non-profit leader. Jen Homcy – a marine biologist accustomed to spending days at sea studying, turned sustainable events consultant, turned wood-worker. Nathan Peracciny – a passionate story teller, committed to telling the stories that inspire others to implement change in their lives. He’s a firm believer that the good stories need to be told. Alex Gray – Massive wave charger, hilarious human, eco-board advocate, student of sustainable living and eco-board and Sustainable Surf Ambassador. And then, Dave Wassel – Family man, steward of the North Shore, life saver, ocean advocate, uncle, deadly-wave chaser, and also a Sustainable Surf Ambassador. Then, we screened the film Sustainable By Design, and saluted Munetoyo Tanaka, one of the film’s stars.

This is the Dream Team – Without these guys, the program is nothing. They back it, they make it happen, and they help spread the word, encouraging others to get on board.

Nathan Peracciny keeps me reminding me how the greening of this event, started small: recycling, then reusables, repurposing, composting, biodiesel, then carbon neutral, AND how the message started as a small blog post. Now, it’s being discussed in almost every heat. Looks like the bar is being raised internally. Maybe the New Future’s not so far off after all.

Posted in By Derek Sabori, Volcom Pipe Pro | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And It’s On!

By Derek Sabori

So good to be here for the Volcom Pipe Pro. It’s really such an amazing experience to be amongst all the players, to be in the mix of the energy and to know that sustainability is working its way into the heart of the mix.

I arrived on Wednesday just in time to post some reminder posters and to hold our first ever – pre-event meeting. Our aim? Get everyone we could to review the steps we’re taking on site, what it means to run a Deep Blue Surf Event, and how everyone plays a part. We had a decent turn out and great words of wisdom from Jen Homcy and Kahi Pacarro (of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii).

On Thursday we went right into it, with perfect waves on tap. Everything’s in order: biodiesel – check. Recycling & compost stations – check. Water bottles and water fill stations – check. Big thanks, as always, to World Centric Compostables and Menehune Water Company for always backing our program!

We even had Volcom co-founder, Richard “Wooly” Woolcott talking sustainability at Volcom during heat commentating in the booth – and in the picture below? Wooly, me, and Munetoyo Tanaka, one of the stars from last year’s Sustainable by Design movie.




Posted in By Derek Sabori, Events, Volcom Pipe Pro | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Volcom Pipe Pro 2015 – Almost Go Time!

Aloha! This year at the Volcom Pipe Pro, you can expect the same level of Sustainable by Design commitment that you’ve seen in the past, and more.

We’re happy to report, that for the 3rd year in a row, the event will again adhere to the guidelines of, and will expect to be certified as, a Deep Blue Surfing Event – meeting Sustainable Surf’s criteria for running a more sustainable surf event. This means we’ll address and measure our impacts in regards to:

Community Support
Transportation and
Climate Change

Factoid: For the last 3 years, the Volcom Pipe Pro has been an essentially, carbon-neutral event, having all of it’s emissions offset through purchases of verified carbon credits. Event fans (and New Future fans) can expect the same this year.

Of special interest are the partnerships we have with local community organizations. The event’s official sustainability partner on the ground is local non-profit Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii , and proceeds from the year-long Volcom Hawaii Give Back Series campaign will be presented to the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii at the event’s end; last year’s donation was over, $40,000.

As an additional and special tribute, Aika Collective, the action sports photo print shop, is participating in the Live Like Sion fundraising campaign to host and print a special series of photos that can be purchased during event; all profits from prints sold will go to the Sion Milosky Memorial Fund. Prints will be available at and will feature four tribute photos of Sion Milosky shot by Brian Bielmann, Daniel Russo, Zak Noyle, and Brent Bielmann. These photos are printed on Kodak Pro Supra Endura Photo Paper and are available in multiple sizes.

Last, but likely the most fun, is the follow up to the successful Sustainable by Design edition of Talk Story at Surfer the Bar. This year’s event will again be hosted by professional athletes, Dave Wassel and Alex Gray and will feature a screening of the 2014 Sustainable by Design story, presentations by Volcom’s Global Sustainability Director and the Executive Director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, as well as a performance by local reggae act, The Jimmy Weeks Project. The event starts at 8pm sharp on Saturday, January 31st and is free to the public, before 8:30pm.

The waiting period for this year’s event is January 29th – February 9th, 2015. Stay updated at and be sure to check out the new trailer!

Posted in By Derek Sabori, Events, Volcom Pipe Pro | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tropical Distractions Benefit

“Tropical Distractions” An Art and Music Event to Benefit The Mission House Jax to be held at Nippers Beach Grille, Jacksonville Beach, Florida from 5pm – 10pm on BLACK FRIDAY November 28th, 2014.

 Join Local and International Artist as well as Local Rockers DARKHORSE SALOON Friday November 28th for the first annual Tropical Distractions art show at Nippers Beach Grille. Tropical Distractions will celebrate and strengthen the local community by donating all proceeds from our Silent Auction to the Mission House Compassion by the Sea in Jacksonville Beach. Our Silent Auction will feature a ton of Art from our contributing artists like Volcom’s own Jamie Browne, The Volcom Art Loft, Beth Haizlip, Chris Maslow, Clay Misner, Nico Suave, and photographers Jack Bates and Patrick Ruddy. Along with featured rad items from our sponsors like: Volcom, Electric Visual, Kicker Audio, Vestal, Nixon, Cycle Spectrum, Sunrise Surf Shop and much more. Sweetwater Brewing Co. will have a host of drink specials, and raffle opportunities so keep a lookout for your favorite Brew!

About The Mission House…

The Mission house was created, and is the only day facility to help meet the needs of the homeless adults at the beaches through compassion, faith and programs designed to provide assistance at an individual level. Today, our number one goal is to assist homeless people off the streets of the Beach and back to productive and self-sufficient lives.  Clients who eat and shower at Mission House for at least a week must meet with our case manager.  This is the only way that we can learn how they arrived at this point in their lives.  Each case is as unique as the person themselves.  The face of homelessness has changed dramatically over the years.  Due to economic conditions, family background and life situations each one of our clients has faced a trial in their life that they may not have expected.  We are here to assist them in planning a way back to an independent and positive way of life.

About Paint It Local…

The idea of Paint it Local was created during a fall internship with Volcom East. The issues of poverty, hardship, and economic downturn developed this quest of event promotion for bettering all communities at their core. Paint it Local connects local and international artists, local musicians, and the local community in an effort to help out the less fortunate. These art and music events celebrate the communities’ strength, and aspire growth in a bottom up manner.

About Tropical Distractions…

Tropical Distractions creates a platform for flourishing artists and photographers in the local community to build upon current success and blossom future artistic opportunities; Brings awareness to the less fortunate individuals here at the Beaches; Collaborates with people of the local community in our efforts to strengthen the Beaches at the core.

Executive Director at the Mission House Lori Delgado Anderson said:

“We are so grateful to Paint it Local and Volcom for having this incredible event to benefit Mission House.  We are proudly supported by our community.  It’s events like this and the people who support them that make us proud to be a part of the Beaches Community.  So many people that the Mission House serves will benefit from Tropical Distractions.”

The Give Back…

The festivities of Tropical Distractions at Nippers Beach Grille is an action packed night for friends and families of all ages, but the main objective is to give back to the Beaches through Mission House Compassion by the Sea. The way Tropical Distractions will raise money is through a silent auction and raffle featuring items from our participating sponsors. The silent auction items include: Volcom Gift pack (prohibit canvas backpack, 2015 Volcom Pipe Pro board shorts and tee, and a True to This movie box set), Nixon leather package (premium leather wallet, belt, green / heather gray 210 fitted), Vestal ZR2 gold men’s watch, 5 pairs of Vestal Republic Sunglasses, Kicker Audio Bluetooth home amphitheater system made for IPhone, IPad, and IPod, Kicker Audio KPw portable wireless speaker, Collin Provost signed signature Toy Machine model skate deck, and many more not listed.

The Artists…

Jamie Browne – is an artist from Sydney Australia, Jamie is fueled by his love for Rock ’n’ Roll and skateboarding and frequently partakes in both as well as a few cheeky beverages. Even from school his college days studying graphic arts, Jamie was always the dude in the back of the room filling his books with drawings of skulls, grotesque hands and other crazy stuff much to the dismay of his teachers but to the delight of his classmates. These days you’ll find Jamie working away in the dark depths of the VOLCOM art department drawing till his hand seizes up and his eye balls melt in his skull.  Jamie will have his art displayed and on sale at this event.

@Jamiebrowneart // //

Chis Maslow – Maslow is a Miami-based fine artist whose creative practice centers primarily around painting and sculpture. A former Los Angeles resident, Maslow graduated in 2003 from The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising with a degree in product development. He quickly grew into a notable clothing designer and produced for multiple labels in Southern California. A few years into his career as a fashion designer, Maslow found himself gravitating towards street art. Subsequently, after many years of experimentation with multi-media, Maslow realized a greater calling to fine art. Since his transition onto canvas, Maslow has shown artwork in galleries across the United States and has experienced equal success in curation as well. Maslow has been a resident artist at Viophilia since November 2013, and simultaneously runs a studio-gallery in his hometown of Melbourne, Florida.

@Christophermaslow //

Clay Misner – is 27 year old surfer, skater and aspiring artist. He graduated from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor in Fine Art. Clay was born and raised in Melbourne Florida, but now resides in Jacksonville Beach Florida. Clay specializes in mixed media, pop art, and illustrations. Clay has worked with numerous local clothing companies like Salt Life and Strata Clothing.

@Claymisnerart //!2012

Beth Haizlip – Encouraged by my parents to draw, paint, and appreciate art at a very young age

I knew I was destined to become an artist. I was born in Charleston, South Carolina and graduated from Florida Southern College in l980 with a Bachelor of Art Degree. I married my high school sweetheart, a navy pilot, and had an adventurous life living in California, Hawaii, Texas and Florida. In 1990 my family settled in Orange Park, Florida. I became an active member of The Florida Watercolor Society, The Jacksonville Watercolor Society, The St. Augustine Art Association, The Clay County Art Enrichment program for children, and The Art Guild of Orange Park ( where I served as president for two years and for whom I am currently publicity chairman. My paintings range from florals, tropical scenes and landscapes to still lifes and portraiture. I truly love it all! The more I paint, the bolder I become with my color, design and composition. Art appreciation and consistent painting habits are both an on-going learning process. I have gone to many workshops and classes, but I must credit a local artist and teacher, Gloria Travassos, for many of my accomplishments as an artist. She has taught me the importance of having good reference material, value sketches, strong compositions, and patience for creating a successful painting. Beth has taken numerous art workshops with artists Mary Whyte, Pat Weaver, Arne Westerman, Alex Powers, Betsy Dillard Stroud, Don Andrews, Morgan Samuel Price, Gerald Brommer and Mary Ann Beckwith. //

Nicole Holderbaum aka Nico Suaveis like nothing you’ve ever seen and no one you’ve ever met. Florida born and raised, Nico collaborates with local Strata Clothing.  She is an avid surfer, artist, and world traveler. Nico says “Live and love fearlessly.”

@Nicosuavalicious //

The Photographers…

Jack Bates- The thing I love most about photography, is you can stop a moment in time before it’s gone forever. Born and raised in Jupiter, Florida I made photography my career when I graduated from University of North Florida. I have had the opportunity to work for many businesses and photograph some beautiful weddings. Wedding photojournalism is key. The day needs to be documented properly so that years down the road we can look back and relive the moments through photographs. When it comes to documenting a special day, I have to be precise, paying close attention to my surroundings and interactions. My second main line of business would be marketing photography. Marketing photography to me is essentially great photographs that represent what that particular company does and offers. Most of the time, a business will reach out to me when they are either creating a new website or revamping their old one.

@Jackbatesphotography //

Patrick Ruddy- Patrick is based on the east coast of Florida. He studied at the University of Central Florida, and is currently the photo editor for Fluid Magazine. His work has appeared in various newspapers and magazines around the world, including the New York Times, Surfing, Transworld, Maxim, The Surfer’s Journal, PDN, and more commercial clients including Volcom, Hurley, SPY, Kicker Audio, Sector Nine, DaKine, O’Neill, Arnette, Rusty, and more. He lives in New Symrna Beach, Florida, close to family, friends, and his dog Jazz.

@Ruddyphoto //  

Contacting Paint it Local…

Want to get involved with Tropical Distractions?

Contact Us:

@paint_it_local // //

(321) 514-2869

Posted in By Derek Sabori, Events, Give Back Series, Industry News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Volcom Beach Clean Up Event Hits Hong Kong!

Written in collaboration with Elijah Kislevitz, Volcom HK.

After seeing two of Volcom Japan’s beach clean collabs with Patagonia, and other successful Volcom beach clean events in California, our team in Hong Kong was eager to do one there at a local beach. So, who better to partner up with for our first one than with our friends at the Surf Hong Kong crew? We rallied them and tapped into their rolodex of campers.

There was no re-invention of the wheel on this one, just tried and true ingredients to spark interest and awareness in the community. Our goal? Make sure the inaugural event went smoothly, efficiently, and with good vibes-  BBQ, Good Tunes, Good People, Good Set-Up, and a Good Cause.

We distributed 60, 15 gallon collection sacks to teams of 2-3 people.  Upon signing up, the team was given a sack, a hat to keep the sun off their brow and a pair gloves to protect their hands.  When they filled it to capacity, they came back and received a coupon good for a hotdog & beverage, a 20% discount coupon for the local Volcom store, and a go at the silk screen to make their own commemorative T-shirt.   

Throughout the afternoon we had well over 100 people participate and max out all the bags.  It was great! But, it was also an indicator to all involved how even one of the cleaner beaches in HK is not immune to people’s negligence and the amount of waste we produce & dump into the ocean and on the beach….

The coolest thing was that many of the people were locals that happened to be rolling through and wanted to get involved.  We received some great feedback on the event, and look forward to doing more in the future!  Huge thumbs up-

Posted in Events, Give Back Series, New Future | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Waves for Water x Odile Relief Project


We’re donating – can you?

As you likely know, Hurricane “Odile” caused massive destruction in the region of Baja Peninsula and Los Cabos, México leaving a quarter million people without electricity and without easy access safe water. Waves for Water is an effective organization that is mobilizing, on the ground to strategically address the situation. Clean Water + Disaster Relief Initiatives. Every donation counts.

Donate here =>

Also, if you are in the area, and able/willing to help please join the clean-up team at the Beach House Store in Cabo.

Posted in By Derek Sabori, Embrace Recovery | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving Back at the UnsOund Surf Pro 2014

Super excited to see the Give Back initiatives in place at the upcoming UnsOund Pro.

The first day will ignite the “Strong Island Lifeguard Challenge,” where West End local Balaram Stack will lead an East End lifesaving team against TJ Gumiela’s West End squad in a 30-minute team-style surf-off/ jetty sprint. The winning team will receive a $500 check benefiting the local charity of their choice.

In addition, longtime shop and event supporter SPY’s “STOKED Expression Session” goes down on Saturday. This mentoring session, where beach interaction and water assistance go hand-in-hand, will pair a dozen kids ages 14-18 from youth-focused nonprofit STOKED with a dozen pros including Cody Thompson, Pat Schmidt, Balaram Stack, Quincy Davis and Alex Gray for a lighthearted team competition where feel-good criteria include “best soul arch” and “best maneuver.” Love it!

Full details at


Posted in By Derek Sabori, Events, New Future | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Word on the Street: Dr. Jess Ponting

By Axel Eaton, Intern

The Center for Surf Research (CSR) has proven itself as a powerful gateway for surfers, students, and organizations.  In their own words it is ‘THE international hub for research on sustainable surf tourism and issues of sustainability affecting the industry and broader community.’  The man pioneering it all is Dr. Jess Ponting, a surfer himself, who wants to pave the way for a new generation of surfers and travelers that are committed to a sustainable future.

I shot Dr. Ponting a few questions to get some opinions and updates for our Word on the Street Series:

(AE) CSR has been sort of ‘under the radar’ lately, but it seems like a lot of things are on their way – One of them being Stoke Certified, an organization working in partnership with CSR. It is scheduled to launch its official website this year.  Stoke Certified will be the world’s first sustainability certification program to cater specifically to the surf tourism industry.

Is it the first of its kind? Is it modeled off of another industry?

(JP) Yes. The Center for Surf Research is the first research center of its kind to focus specifically on the sustainability of surfing, and in particular surf tourism.  Several programs have existed in the past, and some endure, modeled on Plymouth University’s surfing program, which really prepares students to work in the surf industry. Similar programs have existed in Australia, France and Spain as well. None of these have had a research/sustainability focus and none have addressed surf tourism. CSR was not modeled after another industry, surfing and the challenges and opportunities its presents are quite unique.

What was your motivation?

(JP) I love travelling to surf new places. Travelling with surf being the guiding force of a trip, it takes you to amazing places that most tourists never experience, it allows you to interact with local people on an equal footing in the water, and forces you to care about the quality of the local environment and the wellbeing of the local people you are forging relationships with. I’ve seen surfing be a negative influence in many areas it has moved into, particularly in the less developed world. I think that we can do better if we take the time to learn from mistakes and draw from existing knowledge on sustainable tourism development. I want surfing to be a positive influence wherever it goes. That was the motivation.

What is the toughest part of unveiling things that are the first of their kind?

(JP) Getting people to buy in to your dream when all you have to show them is bunch of ideas, some on a piece of paper, some still in your head. Getting high-level university administration to take the study of surfing seriously has been an ongoing challenge as well, but I think we are winning that particular battle.

Last time I checked, the Tavarua Island Resort was looking to obtain the first Sustainable Surf Tourism Certification.  I know from reading the Volcom Fiji Pro posts that they were already under way, and considering their footprint in many different categories.

(JP) The first surf resort in the world to be certified sustainable by STOKE Certified is the Matanivusi Resort on Fiji’s Coral Coast – it is a fantastic property with great access to Fiji’s lesser known, but equally awesome breaks, like Fiji Pipe and Frigates Passage. We’ve been working with Tavarua for three years now on sustainability considerations and they have been wonderful partners in helping us develop and trial our certification criteria. Their official status right now is ‘Benchmarked’ which means we have a full understanding of where they stand from a sustainability perspective, all that remains is for them to schedule an evaluation and become certified. Tavarua are particularly strong in the areas of social and cultural sustainability in addition to their financial support of local communities over the years, and particularly their approach to staff retention (basically there is no staff turnover at all, none). They are a sustainability leader.

I also found, on your website, The Sustainable Stoke Catalogue which has not been released yet but is described as a fully featured material analysis and performance review of all “eco-labeled” products available on the market for surfers each season.  That sentence packs a punch and the work behind this project is unimaginable. Can you give us the inside scoop!?

(JP) The Sustainable Stoke Catalogue is still just an idea. We decided to prioritize the development of our study abroad program with Groundswell Educational Travel and the STOKE Certified program. Groundswell is now fully operational and will be running three sustainable surf tourism trips over the winter break to Fiji, Costa Rica, and Peru, which will yield 3 units of GE Credit in Cross Cultural Interactions in Sustainable Surf Tourism from San Diego State University. STOKE Certified is being launched before the end of 2014. Once these programs are established we will circle back on the development of the Sustainable Stoke Catalogue.

You are the Co-Editor of what looks like an amazing book that will be published soon – Sustainable Surf – Transitions to Sustainability in the Surfing World.   The book has been said to explore the cutting edge of the surfing world’s transition to sustainability.  What was that process like? With such a heavy topic, where does one start? Does the book establish an all-encompassing transition?  In essence, is there one overbearing principle that ties together the many transitions?

(JP) The process was intense. We (co-editor Greg Borne and I) gathered more than 40 thought leaders in surfing and had them write about what they though sustainability meant in the surfing world and what they thought the biggest opportunities and challenges were. We then collected all the contributions and locked ourselves in a room for two weeks analyzing the themes and came out with a logical structure for the book, and an introduction that ties everything together. We have an incredible range of contributors that include a host of world champions including Rabbit Bartholomew, Shaun Tomson, Fred Hemmings, Cori Schumaker, to the heads of the surf industry including the president of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association Doug Palladini, former CEO and current Chairman of the Board of Quiksilver Bob McKnight, Volcom’s Sr. Director of Sustainability Derek Sabori (Yay), and a host of other stakeholders including the founder of Surfrider Foundation Glenn Hening, SurfAid Founder Dave Jenkins, Surfers Against Sewage founder Chris Hines, Sustainable Surf co-founder Kevin Whilden, National Surf Reserves founder and World Surf Reserves inspiration Brad Farmer etc., etc.

The book really starts the conversation amongst thinking surfers as to what the key challenges to sustainability are in our world. It allows a variety of view points to be held simultaneously and establishes, for the first time, a landscape of opinions and ideas to emerge. We hope this can be the basis for a clearer understanding of the issues and opportunities and allow for collaboration on sustainability initiatives moving forward.

You were just featured in the special edition of Surfer Magazine titled Oceans Under Siege as an ‘Agent of Change’ – a surfer committed to protecting our oceans.  Oceans Under Siege featured the frightening reality of climate change and showcased the opinions of people making a noteworthy impact on the environment.  The magazine covers the effects of pollution on our oceans and beaches, the aftermath/cleanup of Japan’s nuclear disaster, and Dustin Barca’s fight against GMO’s.  It’s great that Surfer Magazine covered the world’s environmental issues and their relation to surfing; however, there was never a discussion (good or bad) on the major surf brands and the products they produce and their actions for a sustainable future.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Surfer Magazine passed up an opportunity to applaud surf brands that are truly committed to the environment and ‘call out’ surf brands that aren’t?

(JP) Surfer Magazine exists at the pleasure of the companies who advertise in it. They are not in a position to openly criticize and expose poor practice or appear to support one brand over another. That’s why we need publications like Sustainable Stoke to step back and allow this discussion to take place outside the scope of corporate branding and advertising. I think it’s great that Surfer takes its opportunities to highlight good practices and change makers, but realistically it is not the right vehicle to ‘call out’ surf brands.

Speaking of brands, you’ve worked with a few over the years through your involvement with Surf Credits, namely the Volcom Fiji & Pipe Pro. What’s that been like and has it been successful and well received?

What role do surf brands play?  Are they an effective mechanism for a promoting a sustainable way of living?

(JP) Yes we’ve worked quite a lot with Volcom, but also with Vans, Oakley, Quiksilver and Spy, the latter two have actively supported our study abroad programs and research agendas. Volcom has supported our student interns and the SurfCredits program which has unfortunately become inactive since the change in ownership of the ASP and a lack of engagement between the ASP and the Corporate Social Responsibility platform that SurfCredits provides. On the whole the brands we’ve worked with have been receptive, it’s a matter of figuring out where the synergies are. Collaborations have to work for the brands as well. I think they can be an effective means of promoting a sustainable way of living, but work still needs to be done on figuring out how to build that into company messaging in a way that positively impacts sales and doesn’t blowout the bottom line.

During my internship here at Volcom, I’m to understand how we can (or if we should) effectively convey a sustainability message to our consumer. Ultimately I’m trying to form an opinion on whether or not our sustainability actions & messaging really matter to the consumer when it comes time to choose whether or not to buy from Volcom. 

In your opinion, how do we best engage the consumer?  Do they really care? Do they want to hear it? What level of sophistication are they at?

(JP) Great question. I tend to err in favor of the consumer being interested in sustainability. Now the demographic I work with is a little different to that of surf brands. I’m primarily dealing with surf travellers; the key demographic of surf brands is considerably younger. Having said that, I think it’s incumbent on organizations like the Center for Surf Research to work hard to develop a market for sustainable products as well as work with industry to develop the products themselves. STOKE Certified is all about doing this in the surf and snow spaces, initially in tourism, but more widely as well. CSR’s study abroad program, Groundswell Educational Travel, is also big on educating college-aged surfers about sustainability not just in tourism models but also in surf related purchasing behaviors more broadly. NGOs like Sustainable Surf are also working hard along these lines with their Deep Blue Life program – I think these efforts are super important as without consumer demand, the surf industry is a little hamstrung when it comes to putting sustainable products on store shelves.

Your Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University aims to facilitate a revolution in surf travel so that it benefits the communities where it happens.  You have probably devoted more time than anyone to understanding the surf industry, namely surf tourism, yet you aren’t directly involved with one surf brand.  Personally, I think this puts you in a great position to provide a valuable and somewhat objective opinion…

Because of your stature, if you were to ask challenges of the brands, what would they be? Something they could they be doing?  What are they doing that they could be doing more of? What’s something they should stop doing in your opinion?

(JP) In addition to committing to move surfing products towards sustainability over time (in the way that Kering, for example, is insisting that Volcom moves in that direction and is providing them with metrics and methodologies for that process), I would like to see brands engage more meaningfully in corporate social responsibility programs that support organizations engaged in creating demand for sustainable products. I would like to see more thought put into what results from corporate marketing strategies in terms of impacts in surfing destinations – you’re starting to see this with Volcom’s approach to staging surf contests, with the sponsoring brands who were adopting SurfCredits before the 2014 WCT season. It would be nice to see surf brands assume a more public role in tackling the global environmental issues that will threaten our sports (surf/snow) – I think that surfing is well placed to be a driver of social change once we all get pissed off enough that climate change is going to mean that our favorite reef breaks disappear, our breaks will be in permanent high tide, our snow seasons shorter. Once we start taking that seriously we’ll begin to demand better from ourselves and from others to protect what we love.

From Volcom: Special thanks to Dr. P for taking the time. To learn more about Axel’s experience here, go to the Center for Surf Research’s Blog for a reciprocal piece they did on him!


Posted in Industry News, New Future, Word on the Street | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment