Third Annual SIMA Green Boot Camp Tackles Sustainable Solutions

SIMA Green Boot Camp 2010

The third annual SIMA Green Boot Camp brought industry members together Tuesday, April 13,  to discuss how surf brands can work  with staff and outside organizations to create truly sustainable practices. The event, sponsored by Coast Law Group, covered a broad range of environmental topics, such as producing and marketing sustainable products while staying within margins and reducing companies’ overall carbon footprint.

Matt McClain, Surfrider Foundation
Matt McClain, Surfrider Foundation

Corporate Sustainability Manager at The North Face Adam Mott says that because true environmental initiatives can often be boring to the general public, a greater challenge presents itself when it comes to marketing. One way to work around such obstacles, according to Mott, is to back up a product’s environmental claims with solid information in the form of statistics on the company’s Web site.  is a good way to avoid one of “The Seven Sins Of Greenwashing,” which include using false, irrelevant  and vague labels. According to Mott, the best way to get an entire company on board with environmental intiatives is to instill a sense of responsibility and accountability for each individual.

“Everybody has great ideas, and everybody wants to contribute, but if no responsibility is assigned it won’t get done,” says Mott. “What we’ve done is find people at the company who are champions of sustainability and really nurture them. The initiative has to come from the top [of the company], but also we are starting to incorporate it into performance reviews. There’s a bit of peer pressure that happens, and if there is a plastic water bottle in a meeting, people start to ask ‘why do you have that?”

Surfrider’s Matt McClain addressed how brands can get involved on the partnership level with non-profit organizations and create strong messaging around sustainable products and environmental initiatives, while also drawing increased awareness to the organization and its cause. “I think that people approach [partnerships] as a marketing initiative, which it is in a way, but it needs to come from a deeper involvement level,” says McClain. “If brands don’t believe in it then kids won’t believe in it because they are looking to the brands to shape this culture.”

From left to Right: Rob Machado, Ocean Minded's Mike Gass, Volcom's Derek Sabori, Quiksilver's John Wilson and Sole Tech's Roian Atwood.
From left to Right: Rob Machado, Ocean Minded Senior Product Line Manager Mike Gass, Volcom Environmental Affairs Division and V-Cological Society Manager Derek Sabori, Quiksilver' VP Sustainability Programs Jeff Wilson and Sole Tech Manager of Environmental Affairs Roian Atwood.

A panel of environmental experts from brands also shared case studies. Audience members heard from pro surfer and Hurley brand ambassador Rob Machado about his work providing wells and clean water for villagers on Indonesia’s Sumba island. Jeff Wilson discussed Quiksilver’s organic yarn initiative, Sole Tech’s Roian Atwood spoke to  reducing etnies’ carbon footprint while adding a 13,000-square-foot expansion to its already existing skate park, and Ocean Minded’s  Mike Gass shared how the brand is getting more people involved in beach clean ups. Here’s a quick clip from Volcom’s Environmental Affairs Division and V-Cological Society Manager Derek Sabori, about how his role at the company evolved into what it is today: