It is impossible to ignore the effects of human waste and climate change when you paddle out through plastic trash and see nothing but dead and bleached coral reef pass under your board. When you live in areas where seasonal hurricane swells are regularly morphing into life-threatening superstorms. When, more and more, you are attacked by warm-ocean-loving jellyfish upon duckdiving, and breathe in putrid pollution and runoff fumes upon coming up for air.
Surfing inevitably puts the urgent state of our environment, and our oceans and coasts in particular, at the forefront of your attention.
It is not a fun subject, and something we all would rather not deal with, but we have a responsibility to do everything we can.
Dewi Surf Supply makes all decisions -- from who we partner with and the brands we carry, to packaging and shipping -- by imagining that the earth has a seat at the table and a voice.
A portion of ALL our profits go directly to conservation & environmental education causes.
We also believe that women – as (still) most households’ primary consumers and consumption decision-makers, caretakers, child-raisers, marketing targets, and (now, more and more) entrepreneurs, policymakers, executives – have a big role to play if we are to halt and reverse the damage humans have wrought on the environment.
Here is how we've thought about it and some of the measures we've taken:
- Commitment to Conservation & Community
- Sustainable Packaging
- Surfwear Materials
- Our Argument for Quality, Value, & Sustainability
If you have any questions or suggestions, do not hesitate to contact us!
Commitment to Conservation & Community
A portion of all our profits go directly to conservation and sustainability efforts.
For now, the majority of those funds go towards: (1) reducing the ubiquitous use and careless disposal of plastics in Bali by the local population; and (2) generating awareness and advocacy in the local population (especially kids) towards protecting and reversing the damage already done on our beautiful, fragile ecosystems and planet.
Bali – our base – finally passed a law banning plastics that went into effect on January 15, 2019. It’s a welcome first step.
But so far, we only see the ban in action at large retailers. Otherwise, we are still seeing plastic used automatically and mindlessly. For example: even at those large retailers, plastic bags are still used freely to bag loose produce, meat products, and ice; single-use plastic beverage bottles are daily hydration staples; small retailers, restaurants, hawkers, beach bars still package every ingredient of a meal in plastic baggies of various sizes and shapes (with plastic utensils to boot), and automatically serve drinks garnished with plastic straws.
It’s wonderful that many expat and tourist-serving cafes and stores in Bali source and use non-plastic packaging alternatives. Dewi Surf Supply is focused on expanding that conscientiousness to the local community, making it easier, more profitable, and desirable for everyday Balinese folks to choose non-plastic. We do this by:
- Water Dispensers: Subsidizing and supplying water dispensers in warungs (small roadside shops/bodegas) so the shop owners can sell refills instead of plastic water bottles. The shop’s margins are higher when they sell refills instead of plastic bottles, they reap a generous portion of the water bottle sales, and we have less plastic use overall.
- Non-Plastic Straws: Subsidizing and providing access to biodegradable straws at local beach bars, cafes and restaurants, making non-plastic as cost-effective as plastic straws.
- Non-Plastic Food Packaging: Subsidizing and providing access to taro, seaweed, or paper-based packaging for local food vendors and sellers.
- Education: education efforts at local schools: sponsoring fun classes and activities where kids learn about how to address the environmental threats to our health, our diverse wildlife, the beauty and reputation of our little slice of paradise. These include teaching kids in interacting and engaging ways how slowly plastic breaks down and its effects, the ease and benefits of composting, the impact of fossil fuels on our rising CO2 levels, and what we can do about it.
This was a really hard one for us.
Initially, we thought that as long as we stayed away from plastic, we would be in the clear. But as viscerally heartbreaking as the visuals of plastic choking our marine life and beautiful beaches are, the issues the environment faces are so much greater and more complex. Climate change, deforestation, air pollution, water scarcity are less immediately visible but equally urgent threats.
With a little research, we found that the production and manufacturing of plastic is actually SIGNIFICANTLY LESS DETRIMENTAL to the environment in terms of climate change, ozone depletion, water use, air pollution, and toxicity to humans when compared to paper or cloth. You need to reuse a paper bag 3 and a cloth bag 131 times before the environmental impact of manufacturing break even with that of one plastic bag.
We have evolved our thinking to see plastic’s really horrible reputation as mostly due to the thoughtless and careless single-usage & disposal of plastics (which creates very visible, centuries-lasting, polluting, and marine life-killing evidence of our single use consumption problem). If, in addition to minimizing your use of plastics, you reuse or properly recycle your plastic (which can be a complicated matter in itself), you are doing more for the environment than if you use a paper bag 2 times or even a cloth bag 130 times.
The very best practice, however, is to reuse a bag – any bag (plastic/paper/cloth) – over and over and over again, and be very conscious and conservative about your consumption and disposal of all of these materials.
On this basis, we are providing our customers with a choice of packaging:
- No packaging – bring your own bag if in Bali, or if we are shipping to you, we use the bare minimum required by our shipper; OR
- If you are in Bali, recycled paper bags (literally, re-used from other retail shops) that we hope you reuse and then compost if they fall apart; OR
- Reusable cute pouches made of biodegradable plastic that can be used as a post-surf wet bag for your beautiful new swimwear; as a makeup/toiletries bag/underwear/electronics/passport/travel document bag when you travel; or even as your surf accoutrement (wax, comb, fin key, zinc, solarez) holder. If you dispose of these, please follow the instructions for responsible, environmentally friendly disposal.
Our brands are passionate about creating sustainable products. They create surfwear made from recycled fishing nets and other ocean trash. These fabrics are, for the most part, stronger, more durable, have greater tensile strength (elasticity), and lower permeability and wear and tear than those made of traditional lycra. Plus, they remove and repurpose toxic waste that would otherwise be polluting our oceans and beaches, and killing our marine life.
Our brands also tend to produce their lines in small batches to minimize waste.
Our Argument for Quality, Value, & Sustainability
Yes, many of the brands we carry are more expensive than your run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter, mass-produced surf brands. But we would argue not only does our surfwear provide more value for your money, once you wear a suit from one of our brands, you will never go back to cookie cutter:
- The surfwear we carry is made specifically to FIT women surfers, and to work on the majority of ladyslider bodies and protect you from most of the embarrassing slippages and unintentional moonings that we have all experienced after a wipeout.
- Our brands engineer their surfwear to be durable and withstand all sorts of punishment – friction with your board, against other body parts, extreme stretching when your body gets ragdolled, the push and pull of the whitewash – which translates to years of consistent use.
- Our brands are mostly created by female surfers, who understand intimately the problem they are trying to fix, and who are striking out on their own to make a living doing something they love, ethically and with integrity. Well worth supporting!
- Being made in small batches means that each suit is unique. So you’re not likely to roll up to the surf break and find the only other two girls in the water wearing exactly the same thing.
- These suits are made intentionally with the environment in mind, with efforts to minimize wasteful single-use packaging, and to utilize sustainable, recycled materials.
- Quality is an important part of frugality and sustainability. When you buy quality products that fit well, that are durable, perform amazingly in the surf, and make you feel and look great, our hope is that you will buy fewer products because you keep, use, and love the ones you have for longer. Which costs you and the planet less in the long run.
Don’t forget, buying cheap has its own costs, which economists call negative environmental externalities.
- Making goods that ultimately are used once (if at all) and then thrown away has negative side-effects that only begin with increased carbon, water, resource usage, deforestation, air pollution, toxic chemical run-off, etc. produced in manufacturing and transporting the new goods. The resulting waste carries its own side-effects (landfill real estate, carbon emissions to transport the waste, toxic breakdown in material, groundwater pollution, etc.).
- These are “costs” that are not reflected in the price that the direct customer pays.
- But these are real costs nonetheless, which we all pay:
- Costs to the environment, obviously, in the form of the damage to ecosystems and global temperatures that production byproduct pollution causes.
- Costs to society and individuals in increased healthcare costs, damage to tourism areas and industries, suppressed opportunities and social mobility due to exploitative factory worker wages, not to mention the incalculable costs of shifting baseline syndrome: the reality that each subsequent generation’s idea of “nature” is significantly narrower, less wild, populated with dramatically fewer species of flora and fauna… and they cannot even imagine the rich biodiversity and vast expanses of pristine nature of the generation before.
Our promise is to think very carefully about each environmental and ethical aspect of our business. We will act as best we can to reduce harm, and to encourage sustainability and environmental engagement just as much as we advocate for more women in the water.