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Surfer on beach

Sustainability in the year 2023

My interest in sustainability grew out of a love for the ocean. My dad was an obsessive sailor and spent as much time in the ocean as possible. Though he spent 25 years growing a business in Tokyo, he always seemed to find moorage within a reasonable drive. This passion was passed down to me as I spent a lot of time in and around the water. I was fortunate to spend some of my early years on the island of Hawaii, where the ocean has profound cultural and spiritual significance. The respect for the ocean instilled in Hawaiian culture leads to a strong emphasis on environmental stewardship. The concept of “malama i ke kai” (care for the ocean) underscores the responsibility to protect and preserve marine environments for future generations. This ethos is evident in community-led conservation efforts, marine protected areas, and education programs focused on sustainable practices. I also took away a different lesson about respecting the ocean as I was repeatedly pummelled by waves in my mission to become a surfer at the level of my Hawaiian peers.

In my journeys, whether to the beaches of Japan, Hawaii, or Central America, one memory persistently emerges: the presence of garbage. With each day spent near the ocean, its ubiquity becomes more apparent. Plastic bags, microplastic fragments scattered across sands, and a relentless flow of debris journeying from rivers to the sea painted a distressing picture. Venturing further in my pursuit only deepened my awareness of the pollution and infrastructure challenges facing developing countries. While I always take time to clear these shores of trash, it’s scarcely a dent in the vast expanse of pollution.

Hospitality and our approach

The sustainability challenge casts a long shadow over the travel and hospitality sector, known for its reliance on single-use products, significant food waste, and extensive water and chemical usage. However, the most profound damage stems from its emissions, water consumption, and the degradation of destinations and natural habitats. There are tangible benefits of travel (e.g. personal growth, learning, self-actualization), but we recognized the urgent need to diminish its environmental impact. This realization prompted our collaboration with charities, a crucial step in our quest to reconcile our love for exploration with the imperative of sustainability.

Beach cleanups weren’t going to solve this problem, so we decided to join forces with existing organizations already doing this work on a much bigger scale. Me being a huge fan of Yvonne Chouinard, 1% for the Planet seemed like the right vehicle to channel our efforts toward sustainability and crystallize our accountability as an organization. It gave us an opportunity to channel our contributions to something important to me personally (the ocean), and for the company (the places harmed by travel). This is why we selected charities like Surfrider Foundation, Oceanwise, Sustainable Travel International, and Adventure Travel Conservation Fund. We consider the latter two charities our carbon offset for our part in promoting travel and hospitality businesses.

On a more micro-level at Wallop, we’ve committed 1% of our revenue and time to the following environmental charities or campaigns every year, including 2023:

Embracing hope

There are many good things happening too. 4Ocean has now collected 30 million pounds of trash from the ocean. England and France have implemented a single-use plastic ban and non-essential receipts. 16 young teens in Montana accused the state government of violating their right to a healthy environment. The white rhino population is increasing. Baby seals are thriving. Renewable energy use continues to grow and become more affordable. The adoption of electric vehicles is accelerating. Green building practices like passive homes and LEED certifications are growing. Environmental agreements like the Paris Accords are being signed.

These initiatives give us hope. They demonstrate that positive change can be made a reality. The increase in the white rhino population and baby seals are testaments to the resilience of nature when given a chance. And the surge in renewable energy adoption and the growing popularity of electric vehicles are reshaping our approach to energy and transportation. These advancements, coupled with green building practices and global environmental agreements, show a world that’s inching closer to sustainability.

Despite the disheartening scenes and the complex challenges we face, it’s crucial to remember that change often sprouts from the depths of adversity. The problems are manifold, and the road to sustainability is fraught with obstacles. But the collective efforts – big and small – are slowly carving a path towards a brighter future.

At Wallop, our commitment goes beyond mere words. We have proudly supported various environmental charities and dedicated our time and resources to causes that align with our vision of a sustainable future. Our actions reflect our belief in making a tangible difference.

Don’t let the styrofoam containers and single use plastics win. Let’s rise with resilience, armed with the knowledge that our actions, no matter how small, contribute to a collective effort that can and will make a difference.