The Sustainability Supply Club.
As well as being a world tour competitor and host of the “Le Boogie” podcast Josh Kirkman is also the CEO of “Surfers for Climate” an Australian registered charity centred around campaigning for action against climate change and stopping coastal and offshore fossil fuel projects. One of their fundraising initiatives is the ” Sustainability Supply Club”. We had a chat with Josh to find out what the SSC is all about.
Hi Josh, Can you talk us through what the Sustainability Supply Club is?
The Sustainable Supply Club is our initiative to achieve two things: drive positive change through the surf industry regarding the products surfers buy and their environmental impact; and raise funding for our work in growing a sea-roots movement for positive climate action in surfing and seeing an end to offshore oil and gas exploration in Australian waters.
We’ve managed to bring together over 30 brands from within and outside the surf industry who are all on the sustainability or environmental journey to provide deals, discounts, giveaways and knowledge sharing opportunities to members who jump on with us for 99 bucks a year. We’ve already had a tremendous response to the initiative, even having one of our first online webinars with a brand partner (Piping Hot) to learn about their efforts to be less impactful and drive supply chain changes for better environmental outcomes.
The opportunity is that a network of positive change can be created whereby surfers show brands they are engaged on the issues of sustainability (by joining up, engaging in webinars, using their discount codes to buy more sustainable products), and brands embark on bolder trajectories towards lower and zero impact products.
What is the aim of the SSC initiative?
We aim to see SSC position itself as the number 1 sustainability initiative in the surfing industry, which will see it develop and implement a verification system for brands to earn that gives products a ‘blue tick’ for climate. To get there, we need to grow our members and encourage bigger surf industry players to jump on the program. If we can have all brands on the Sustainable Supply Club engaging with consumers and sharing knowledge through webinars, then we’ll have something very significant on our hands that will make a difference.
Why is it important for bodyboarders and surfers to be involved in programs like this?
It’s dawned on me recently that one of the reasons for apathy in the surfing community when it comes to environmental action and engagement on the issue of climate, is that I feel there might be an aversion to being labeled a hypocrite. This was laid out in an exchange on Instagram recently between well-known surfboard shaper Matt Biolos and Greg Long on the issue of seismic testing off the coast of Africa.
Greg Long is a true surf environmentalist and is willing to make changes in his lifestyle, and the equipment he uses, for what he believes in. I interviewed him years ago for a magazine article I wrote and in that article who spoke about how he was using recycled EPS and bio-resin on the boards he used in life-threatening waves like Jaws and Mavericks. Not a lot of surfers have been willing to make such a change, and hearing of a surfer making the change in waves of such consequence was refreshing. Anyway, Matt Biolos responded to Greg’s post about seismic testing by saying the following:
“I believe you’re doing good and passionate work, Greg. It’s a difficult situation… I hope you back it up by driving electric cars, eating only locally sourced food, no longer traveling by air, not wearing the Chinese made ( oil tanker imported) clothing Co that you work for and other radical personally sacrificing changes to make a true example of what’s needed to live without developing more oil resources. (Personally, We now have two E-cars in our household, as a small start) but the facts are, every product is moved around the world on fossil fuel burning ships and planes. We need 1000 Elon Musk types , ballzy enough to re-create the industrialized world…which will take 50+ years, at least. In transition, we (human race) still needs a lot of oil, or millions will starve and go unclothed.”
Now, it goes without saying that matching your actions with an Instagram post matters, but this response of Biolos makes it paralysing for everyday wave-riders like us to begin taking action. He sets the bar way too high so that really only a multi-millionaire can take action, and that is where the paralysis begins to set in for everyday (non-multi-millionaire) surfers. There’s also a lot of holes in Biolos’ argument, namely that without oil people will starve and go unclothed, when the facts are that surpluses of food and fibre are produced every year and that the unfair distribution and pricing of these goods is what leaves people starving and unclothed TODAY while others have wardrobes overflowing and disposing of rotting food that piled up on shelves TODAY too. Biolos’ concerns for the human race that refers to the need for more oil are concerns that already exist with oil and high supply. It’s a bullshit argument made by an individual who wants to put the issue into a too hard basket and make up barriers to engagement, when instead, we can all just accept that we’ve been born into a system that is ultimately killing us and we need to fearlessly do whatever we can individually do to change things.
If we want for us all to become millionaires so we can take action without being labeled hypocrites, we’re fucked.
We noticed that Pride bodyboards have been included on the list, what qualifies them to be included?
As a bodyboarder, I’ve been really challenged about the environmental impact of the craft and the relative lack of initiative from the industry to make these craft less environmentally polluting. When I saw what Pride was doing, with integrating recycled PE into their boards (as well as their cork board project), I was so stoked – here’s a brand willing to try things out and go against the established norms. Their integration into the Sustainable Supply Club was then easy – they are a brand on the sustainability journey and we all need to support those brands to show them that their efforts are ‘worth it’.
If a company is looking to be admitted to the Sustainability Supply Club, what do they need to do?
It is very simple. Just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
We really want to scale up this initiative to include every surf brand on the market and striving for over a thousand members as soon as possible. If we can get people on board and engaged with climate action and rethinking how the products that are made for us can be done in a way that is less environmentally impactful, the better for all of us.
If you’re interested in joining the Sustainability Supply Club hit the link below and be part of a positive initiative.