In 2021 Coast to Coast have updated our surf school environmental plan which will appear shortly on this website.

In the 90’s I was part of a small group of individuals, volunteering under the banner of “Surfers Against Sewage”, a new  growing environmental group. In Scotland we campaigned against coastal pollution and influenced Scottish Waters decisions on the next generation of sewage treatment plants in the mid 90’s. In the 80’s and early 90’s I ended up surfing with heat rashes and feeling sick and fellow surfers had ended up worse, in hospital after local pollution incidents. We needed to change things and our group campaigned on Portobello beach for press shoots with an inflateable turd, promoted awareness in the Edinburgh community and outside the Parliment and Scottish Waters HQ and organised big events for cleaner seas. We fought for two years and pressurised Scottish water to go full UV treatment for Edinburgh, an expensive new solution, which meant the end of secondary pipes directly polluting the Forth. This change in treatment of sewage in Edinburgh became the standard process in Scotland, where UV is used to kill dangerous bacteria and effluent. Locally in the Forth Estuary two decades on has seen massive improvemnts in water quality. Mussel beds have now returned to Musselburgh, wild swimmers to Portobello, kitesurfers play at Gullane and we can surf with dolphins from Dunbar to Pease Bay. This is a period of just over 20 years, its not perfect and still grounds for improvement but can show that we all can make big changes, that yes do cost money, but collectively make both our generation and our childrens future better. Looking at the growth of coastal business, water sports growth and increase in coastal property its easy to see the economic link to a healthy environment. A win win.

It’s becoming more and more obvious now that individuals and businesses need to take a lead in environmental improvements and solutions. We have to look at the bigger picture and change what we do and at the very least offset our impact short term while planning for a positive environmental future longer term. It is possible if we collectively change to help the planet to recover quickly but we all need to do this by reducing our impact while increasing biodiversity and rewilding projects.

Education is going to play a big part. At coast to coast we are not only educating ourselves and our customers but also the surf and general community. We see surfers as an integral group connected to nature, with people from all over society included. We see it as a group that can positively influence many areas of business and government. However many of us don’t realise the actual impact our sport has on the environment and these are questions that need to be outlined and discussed openly. This means looking at what our carbon footprint is? What is the carbon footprint of a surfboard from construction to delivery? or a 45min car journey to the sea ? what direct impact does a local surfer have in a year on the areas they surf ? how do we get surfers to clean up the plastic on the beach then influence the communities they live in not to litter? what are the impacts of surf schools? How can we look at new products that have less impact on the environment and work with suppliers? In the short term how can we offset travel or boards against rapidly investing in biodiversity or re-wilding projects locally or in Scotland? How can we work with others and create the structure that helps protect the marine environment and healthy seas for the long term? Can we finally link elements – such as beach cleans to changing local attitudes with dropping litter in the towns we live in or along the roads we drive?

Lots of questions but we aim to make 2021 they year where we work through these questions and then work with likeminded individuals and groups to change things for the next generation.

Since our formation in 2004 Coast to Coast have been doing regular beach cleans and educating environmental impact of humanity in lessons and courses. We have a digital and physical no trace policy on tours thats been in place for more than a decade. In 2020 we went further and made a commitment to taking our business administration almost entirely online and we now plant a tree for every junior course and every surf tour booked – with 220 trees planted in 2020. This is a positive start in commitment but its only the tip of the iceberg and we need to go further.

Sam

Director

Coast to Coast