04 Oct Starboard, a star is board
A Star is Board
4 Octobre 2019
Taco Lake, just a few minutes from Bang Na or Suvarnabhumi Airport, is a haven for watersports enthusiasts, who can escape the city’s frenzy and indulge in wakeboarding or paddle surf in a peaceful setting. That’s also where Svein Rasmussen has installed its eco-conscious company, Starboard.
Founded in 1994 by this Windsurfing World Champion and Olympics participant, Starboard not only makes topnotch watersports gear like Tiki windsurf or paddle boards, but it also engages in many ways to protect nature in general and oceans in particular.
“For 25 years we have been creating the most successful, award-winning boards on our blue planet, while getting more people onto the water,” Svein summarizes for Latitudes. “We love the spirit that goes into this amazing process, our riders taking home awards and you enjoying nature in the best way possible. With its success, Starboard, however, became a major polluter within our industry, despite ending single-use plastic and introducing of solar energy. Knowing our responsibility and ability, we wanted to create a culture that goes about business differently.
After all these years of getting people into the sports, the new focus is to look at more than just the sports, but see how we can somehow get them to see how much watersports can help the health of the oceans, particularly the paddle boarders who are the people most looking after the oceans.
And it’s a disaster in the ocean at the moment. We see it every day we paddle. So, we collect 1.4kg plastic trash from beaches around our test center in Thailand for every board we sell. This year we will, together with you, prevent 43 million grams plastic from entering the oceans. Just a little start like most pioneering steps. We try to build teams of oceans ambassadors connected with different organizations and we try to bring more organizations together.”
As a company, Starboard tries to partner on environmental issues with other organizations like Parley for the Oceans, Trash Hero, Sustainable Surf, 5 Gyres and Watertrek. Together they learn and also expand their reach, increase their influence, and raise their visibility in the ongoing battle to make our oceans and planet a cleaner, healthier place for people to paddle.
The Plastic Disclosure Program helped them to map out their plastic footprint and the company further funded a Plastic Offset Program to create a value for plastics found along the coastline in Thailand. The funds come from an internal plastic tax at Starboard. They also joined with B Corp in a declaration of interdependence to envision a global economy that uses business as “a force for good!”
Their reach now goes as far as big Thai conglomerates like SCG, or the Thai government. They currently set up meetings with the new Financial team, seizing the opportunity given by the new structure with the Democrats who are now in charge of Agriculture and Finance, to propose tax reduction to companies working towards becoming climate positive, and, as advisers, trying to fast-track new regulations…
With SCG, they just signed a MOU on a complete educational program, and are constantly raising awareness in companies like event organizers to activate themselves on climate change.
“We want to share that the climate crises partially come from deforestation. We need to regenerate forests for the challenging years ahead and sea trees or mangroves are important players as they absorb more CO2 than any other, while also helping clean the ocean and shelter coastal villages for heavy storms.”
Every member of the Starboard organization – from board builders and designers to team riders – is encouraged to do their part for the environment, whether it’s local trash pick-ups in Thailand, tracking their flight miles for our company-wide carbon offset purchase, or… planting!
“A mangrove tree can offset 6 to 10 times the footprint of a board and we are partnering in replanting one billion mangrove trees over the next 10 years, in particular through our pilot project in the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park, aiming at yearly absorption of the equivalent CO2 emissions of a country like Norway…”
The Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park is situated at Pathein University’s Research Centre in Ma Gyi in the Ayeyarawaddy Delta, at the edge of the Bay of Bengal. The park consists of a mangrove gene bank and a 1,800-acre large mangrove restoration park to mitigate 2.7 million tons of CO2 and serve as a protective shield for vulnerable coastal communities to save lives and property against extreme weather, in addition to creating sustainable development with alternative livelihoods and poverty reduction.
The park was initiated following research on mangrove restoration by Worldview International Foundation in 2012, in cooperation with Pathein University and Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry. The project is a model for mangrove restoration in Myanmar, overcoming losses of 1 million hectares since 1980. A comprehensive development model is being implemented based on biodiversity, combining large scale mangrove planting with wildlife protection, with dugongs and elephants being amongst the most endangered animals.
“Our initial aim is to plant 100 million mangrove trees with more to be planted in larger parks. There is a potential to plant over 1 billion mangrove trees on available land in Myanmar. This will have a tangible impact on global and local development challenges. We do so by planting one mangrove per board sold – each tree offsetting 1 ton of CO2 over the course of 20 years – making every board ten times carbon net positive.”
But, according to Svein, for a company believing in sustainability, it is perhaps not any longer enough to only reduce plastic and co2 emissions, but become net positive, then go past positive and finally several times net positive!
“Our Starboard coworkers, eco team and eco partners helped us develop this series of programs to become carbon net positive,” Svein concludes. “Then we work on making up for past emissions and also further plan on becoming 10x net positive, creating a healthier home.”