Photo: Jonathan Young/Tandem Stock

Hint: This is not a prophylactic for cetaceans. Plastics—like this one—are the ocean’s enemy. Photo: Jonathan Young/Tandem Stock

From the Mag | Eco Edition | 5 ways to be a greener paddler

Environmental practices to protect our paddling playgrounds

Taking care of the Earth and its water is hard work. We have to be conscious, we have to be responsible and we have to care. The good news is it's not that hard to start. When we look around, more people are getting on the eco bandwagon, shopping with reusable bags, picking up trash and acknowledging that there are problems out there. Here are five ways to dip your toe into the green pool.

Pick up a piece of trash every time you paddle. This one is easy. You get in the water, you pick up any kind of garbage you see lying around when you get out. We've had the pleasure of paddling all over the world and see trash literally everywhere, whether it's a lake, river or a bay. Pick up one piece. Put it in your pocket. Or tuck it into the leg of your wetsuit. If you go out as much as we do, it adds up.

Don't use single-use plastics. Our society's reliance on single-use plastics (and other trash) is mind-boggling; plastic stirrers for our coffee, plastic cutlery, plastic bags, plastic takeout containers, plastic packaging, the proliferation is endless. Don't use it unless you absolutely have to. Luckily, reusable bags, refillable water bottles, water filters and actual cutlery all make it pretty easy with a little foresight.

Take care of your gear. We all love gear and more and more, companies are making equipment that lasts (see pg. 88 for examples). Taking care of this gear makes it last even longer. Rinsing your suit after every session, keeping your board out of the sun and repairing your dings all give your gear longer life, which means consuming fewer resources.

Reduce runoff. Oil and transmission leaks, fertilizer, car soap and other liquid discharge all end up in our waterways. Health officials recommend waiting 72 hours after a rain to get in the water in most urban areas. Seventy. Two. Hours. Take care of your car, garden responsibly (watch your water usage and plant native flora) and don't dump anything nasty, like soapy suds from washing your car.

Join Surfrider and/or American Rivers. In their 31st year of operation, the foundation has 84 chapters and more than 250,000 crusaders helping to make our oceans a better place. American Rivers was established in 1973 and their 200,000 members have restored more than 150,000 miles of river since. From simple things like organizing beach cleanups to on-the-ground projects like watershed revitalization to high-profile conservation campaigns, Surfrider and American Rivers are the premier examples in waterway stewardship. They deserve your support.

Check out some different ways to help pick up plastic.

Go on an eco-friendly excursion, see how.

This feature originally ran in the E Issue