It is with great pride and honor that I sit here, humbled that Cali Paddler has the opportunity to make our first contribution to the three non-profit organizations we support. It's so rewarding, and so exciting, that within just a few months we are able to start giving back to the community. If you're reading this, please take a second to recognize that you contributed to making this possible.
How did we get to this place you ask? Let’s pause and take a step backward together to a moment in time when I was as a young adult, with a full head of hair, and walking on the beach in San Diego. I think this will help shed some light.
I had just finished a few hours of skateboarding along the Mission Beach boardwalk, high five-ing friends, when I decided to walk along the beach because the sun was getting low on the horizon and I was sure the sunset would be epic. As I walked along, I watched surfers cruise the back-lit waves with grace, and listened to the laughter of families.
I was stoked. It dawned on me, in that moment, how precious of a gift our beaches are. They bring us so much harmony and beauty.
Just as I was having this thought, I looked down and saw a blue bottle cap in the sand...DOH!
No doubt, the result of the ever-so-troublesome plastic junk-spreading elves, or perhaps a bit more likely, a careless beach-goer. Either way, it was there, and I wasn't going to ignore it. I picked it up, put it in my pocket and continued on my walk. 10 feet later, I found an orange one. As I strolled, I kept picking up plastic caps and other whacky things.
After a while, a gentleman walked up to me and asked why I was picking up plastic bottle caps. You are no doubt shaking your head, saying to yourself "really dude?", and I felt that way too. I told him, "they don't belong on our beaches or in our oceans. Animals eat them, they don't biodegrade, and it's just plain nasty".
The gentleman said to me, "what's the point? It won't matter if you pick it up, because down the beach there are far more people dropping them, who could care less about it anyway.”
Are you thinking to yourself what I was thinking? (and not to hit him in the knee with my skateboard like ... that's just silly)
I was struck thinking how two people could posses such different points of view. My point of view was one of hope, compassion, effort, and possibility. His view was who cares, why bother, save your energy because it won’t make a difference.
I tell this story, not to highlight the fact that I was a cool, barefoot skateboarding, sunset walking, conservationist kid. It's to share that my real world example, and moment of clarity, when I realized most people belong to one of two camps when it comes to ecological preservation.
Skateboard kid - we only have one planet, let's make the effort every moment.
Grumpy guy on the beach - what's the point, it's a waste of time.
As an individual, we can only do so much, and at some point we're going to need to come together and co-create sustainable ways to move our planet’s health meter in a more positive direction.
The answer to the question the man on the beach asked has eluded me for years. And while I don't have the perfect answer, I know where we can find some help looking for the answer. Businesses that do the right thing are a good place to start. And we know some people who might be able to help. You! Yes, you are one of them.
When Clarke and I were talking about what we wanted Cali Paddler to become I said to him ... "I can't get behind a business that doesn't give back, it just doesn't feel authentic to me" and Clarke instantly agreed.
This was followed shortly by "Hey Greggy, I smell coffee! Can we go towards it and talk more?". Over coffee, we discussed the deeper layers of our business model.
One of our deep rooted beliefs is that businesses have an ethical responsibility to give back to the world in which they operate. There is no option here, we just needed to find a way to do it. Cali Paddler exists to challenge conventional wisdom and present a new style of responsible business. We chose to adopt an Eco-Social responsible business model.
Companies like Patagonia, Cliff Bar, Sevenly, North Face and Pura Vida are recognizable to many as having a business model and culture that gives back. And Cali Paddler aims to learn from these companies and innovate our own unique style of giving back.
Phase One for us has been the roll out of our 5% Paddlers Pledge.
We are dedicated to giving 5% of all our revenue to support quality conservation efforts within our great state of California. What makes this even more exciting is we give you, yes you, the opportunity to choose which conservation groups you wish your 5% to go to. Right at the point of purchase, you are both a customer and conservationist, at the same time.
Every time you get epic gear, you are making an impact right here, locally, in California.
Currently we are supporting the following three fantastic organizations, all doing unique efforts in California.
Clean Oceans Project - TheCleanOceansProject.com
The Clean Oceans Project (TCOP) is a 501c3 non-profit in Santa Cruz, California with a vision of an ocean free of plastic pollution. Our practical solution to plastic pollution assesses plastic debris concentrations, removes it from the environment with minimal impact and processes it into fuel to run the operation. Demonstration of plastic to fuel conversion provides a financial motivation to manage plastic as a valuable resource rather than discard it as a toxic nuisance.
H2O Trash Patrol - h2oTrashPatrol.com
Marine Conservation & Water Stewardship through Marine Debris Removal and Education.
The League to Save Lake Tahoe (Keep Tahoe Blue) - KeepTahoeBlue.org
The League to Save Lake Tahoe is dedicated to protecting and restoring the environmental health, sustainability, and scenic beauty of the Lake Tahoe Basin. We focus on water quality and its clarity for the preservation of a pristine Lake for future generations.
Please take 5 minutes to follow these organizations on FaceBook, if you haven’t already, to keep up to date with the great work they do. If you have the time, also click over to their websites to learn the deeper layers of the drive behind why they do what they do.
Ya see guys; I look at it like this. The grumpy guy on the beach challenged my character and let’s face it he may have had a point.
No, I probably couldn't keep cleaning at the pace people were polluting.
No, it certainly won't be easy
But … he underestimated the potential of a thoughtful idea combined with the fiery passion of a Cali kid. And let's face it he had no clue about the future brothers and sisters I was going to meet joining our growing tribe that could help as well.
Who would have thought a bottle cap on the beach could be so powerful.
I encourage you to join us and envision with me, a Cali Paddler Eco-Tribe that is 20,000+ strong, working side-by-side, together, to co-create opportunities that have a significant social and ecological impact on our great golden state.
This is why I'm so excited to send these contributions, on your behalf, to our conservation partners. This is an iconic first moment, one of many, that we are proud to share with you.
If you paddle, you get it!
So let's take a look at the Conservation scoreboard in 2015
Barefoot Skateboard Kid = 1+
Grumpy Defeatest Guy = 0
Thank you for being a shining example of a Cali Paddler. (and for making it to the end of this post :-) Please pass along to 1 person you know, even if they don’t paddle. So long as they care to help conserve California.
With gratitude, Greggy