The Cost of a Free Ride by Chris Ahrens
Without admission fees, dues, lift ticket, or uniforms, surfing remains a bargain and an essentially free and unregulated activity. We paddle out, catch as many waves as possible and are left without a care in the world. If you’re a surfer, you know the feeling. But is there a cost to maintaining this free lifestyle?
While we are carefree as we ride waves, the ocean we ride them in is under direct threat by overly zealous developers, criminal polluters, and other abusers. On a smaller scale, each time someone hoses down their driveway it sends a toxic river of motor oil, pesticide, pet waste and crap you would never bathe in, into our favorite playground. Each time someone’s car spews oil onto the street, it ends up in the lineup and somebody will eventually be riding over that cancerous, black liquid. Sadly, not a day passes without the Pacific chocking on the stench of human waste, bedpans and materials deemed unfit to touch land. If all of this waste were placed into a toilet, it would need to be twice the size of the Rose Bowl. Hope you’re not eating when I ask you to imagine such a royal flush.
All of this is discouraging, so what can we do about it? Plenty.
While few of us are macro polluters, most pollution is caused by people like you and me, and only we reverse it. We all contribute to the problem in our own small ways, and there are things we can do halt that putrid rising tide. You may know many of these but they bear repeating:
1) Don’t walk over discarded plastics. Carry a bag to dispose of inorganic waste found on the beach.
2) Don’t cut the strings of helium balloons and watch them float over the ocean—once they deflate they tend to land in the sea where they can become hazardous to sea life.
4) Get active in local politics run for local office and vote for candidates who have a strong record of protecting the ocean.
Attend city council meetings whenever a topic relevant to clean ocean water is being addressed.
5) Eliminate or at least limit your use of toxic chemicals and pesticides.
6) Keep your car free from oil leaks, and don’t let the hose run when washing your car.
7) Use as little plastic as possible and reuse plastic bags.
8) Use organic, biodegradable cleaning products—vinegar is a good one.
9) Pick up for ten other people.
10) Corporately you can support one or more of the ocean- minded environmental groups listed on the Marine Conservation Organizations website: http://marinebio.org/oceans/conservation/organizations.asp
We don’t have to live on a planet fit for nothing but cockroaches. As the current caretakers of this earth, we owe it to our children to leave this planet cleaner than we found it. So next time you’re enjoying a free ride at your break of choice, think about the wonderful gift you’ve been given and what it takes to keep it useable for yourself and future generations. With your help we will not only maintain what we have, but we can reverse this downward trend. They say there’s no free lunch. Well, there are no free rides either.