Surfer Mag – Are Wave Pools Sustainable?

In-depth Report On A Burgeoning Industry’s Impact

As the surf park industry continues to grow with new projects popping up in all corners of the globe, Surfer Mag dove into the chlorinated water to find out how sustainable a mechanical wave playground could be.

Co-Founders of STOKE, Carl Kish and Dr. Jess Ponting, were questioned on what the key impact areas are and how the new STOKE Surf Park standard and certification process verifies that a wave pool is sustainable. Below is an excerpt:

…But even if surf parks continue to find increasingly creative ways to mitigate their environmental impact, you cannot build anything without at least some degree of impact. At least for surf parks, which are used by a group of people who care about the environment innately, we can insist that our patronage requires operators to hold their facilities to the highest environmental standard.

But Ponting is optimistic that surf parks can make a change for the better. “I see potential for this industry to showcase all kinds of best practice sustainability measures, to educate about sustainability… local environmental issues, social justice issues (race, gender, indigenous peoples), surf therapy etc. I see opportunities to bring new demographics into a space for learning about marine and coastal conservation, even creating new activists for those environments who live nowhere near them.”

So what can surfers do? “Vote with their wallet,” says Carl Kish, co-founder of STOKE. “Similar to how more surfers are being concerned with what food they’re eating, where their clothes are coming from, and how their boards are being made, surfers can influence the future of surf parks by supporting those wave pools with authentic and transparent sustainability claims. Ask questions, learn, and duckdive the greenwash—surf park developers will take notice.”

Read more from the STOKE team and Katie Rodriguez’s research at Surfer Mag here.