Sustainability, How Can the SUP Industry Lead the Way?

With the news that Trump has pulled out of the Paris Agreement, it seems like the whole world is talking about climate change. But it’s all too easy to find yourself absorbed in the politics & the hype and forget about the real issue.

Climate change is a hot topic that’s for sure, but the reality is that most people feel pretty powerless when it comes to making a difference, and so find themselves hoping and wishing that governments will somehow fix the problem.

SUPKids has had the challenge of translating climate change into something that 5-year-olds can understand (and keeping the conversation solution based and optimistic – which is a pretty tricky thing to do given current circumstances).

But here’s what they have realised as a result – Once kids truly understand what we’re doing to our planet, they immediately want to know what they can do to help. Interesting? Whilst all the adults are forming opinions on the global political situation, the kids are ready to take action in their local communities – pretty sure there’s a lesson here for us all.

Their work over the last 12 months, growing the SUPKids community and helping SUP schools all over the world integrate environmental education into their kids programs, they’ve gained some real insight into how the SUP industry is operating in regards to sustainability.

The harsh reality? As an industry that relies upon nature for its playground, they’re definitely not fulfilling their potential to become leaders in sustainability. So when the founders of the Green Surf Festival in Noli, Italy asked SUPKids to partner with them, they realised that there was an opportunity to switch things up.

They had two big goals; bring together key players within the Stand-Up Paddle industry to create a space for conversations about sustainability and find a way to deliver an event in a non-traditional format that would actually leave people inspired & ready to make a change.

It has never made sense to gather a bunch of ocean loving people and make them sit in a hotel conference room, drink coffee and listen to endless speakers.

No presentations, no slide shows, no hand outs. Instead: SUP, swim, hike & explore the beautiful Ligurian Coast. Hang out with a bunch of like-minded folk, industry leaders & sustainability experts. An extra day has been added on to the Green Surf Festival to kick start Protect Blue, and have built the schedule around the main racing events, so that athletes can take part in both events.

The Protect Blue experience is based around six core themes :

Connect to nature & explore how we can protect it: Each of SUPKids Green Talks is hosted by one of their partners. Think early morning hikes, SUP adventures, beach cleans & slow food dinners.

Learn from each other: The concept of Protect Blue is built around collaboration. Learning from each other.

Walk the talk: SUPKids is working alongside Sustainable Surf to ensure the Green Surf Festival is a truly sustainable event. The Deep Blue Event certification means eco contracts for all partners, local, seasonal food, carbon offsets, water stations, zero plastic, green travel initiatives, community engagement & environmental education.

Micro adventures: As part of their Protect Blue ethos, all participants will be given a DIY pack for five awesome micro-adventures you can go on whilst you’re hanging out in Noli.

Keep it playful: So ofen, at these kinds of events, it’s the conversations you have in between talks or over dinner where the magic happens. So at sunset every day, it will be possible to meet for drinks at the beach. A place to regroup & connect. Hosted by SUP Racer, Beers for good.

Long lasting legacy: One of the core objectives for Protect Blue is to create an industry working group so they keep the conversation moving afer the event.

Protect Blue is partnered with Starboard who are leading the way with their commitment to sustainability. Starboard recently launched their new micro site dedicated to all their eco endeavours.

Their team will be in Noli sharing more about the work they are doing as a company to lower their carbon footprint.

Tickets for Protect Blue are limited, so reserve your spot at


About the Author

Mathieu Astier

Mathieu is the hyper-active founder of TotalSUP and a multilingual online marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience working for top international internet companies. His love-at-first-sight for Stand Up Paddling in 2013 led him to build one of the leading online media dedicated to SUP in English and French and to turn his family lifestyle towards the ocean.

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