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“90 Days to Earth Day” Interview in Local Sessions

90 Days to Earth Day Poster

A Conversation with Kevin Murphy: 90 Days to Earth Day

As surfers we seem to have a natural connection with the environment.  We enjoy its fruits but rarely willing to tend to its care in any prolonged or serious manner.  One local teacher and entrepreneur is challenging this notion by starting a program and contest called 90 Days to Earth Day.  The idea is that starting January 22nd, 90 days from “Earth Day”, students can begin to make an impact on their local environment in a way that will hopefully foster thoughtful change and, for at least a couple lucky  winners, some excellent experiences and nice swag.  I recently had the chance to catch up with Indo Jax Surf School founder and contest visionary Kevin Murphy to chat about this new idea.

So, what exactly is the 90 Days to Earth Day?

It’s a contest basically for anyone in kindergarten through twelfth grade, over the ninety day period, to collect as much trash as they possibly can.  Focusing on rivers, the ocean and the Intracoastal-things like that.  Things that directly go into the ocean and then, hopefully, recycle as much stuff as they can.  They need to complete a photo or video essay on their efforts to be considered for the prizes.  One winner this year can get a Dale Carter custom surfboard.

Really cool idea.  In addition to Dale Carter, who all has helped you pull this together?  I know this has been on WBLivesSurf.com etc.

Yea, Tony Butler and WBLiveSurf were one of the first sponsors to help last year.  I presented the idea to him and he jumped right on it.

So this is the second year?

Yea, last year I did it a little differently.  I did it as a contest to collect more trash than myself and I think it might have intimidated some people.  We had only four participants but this year I am hoping that we get more people and to have the contest between the kids to encourage bigger numbers.  I’ll still be doing it myself just as a support to kind of set the bar high.

And it all gets started January 22nd?

The idea is to build a habit among all the kids that are doing it not just a one day beach sweep.  Those are great but there are so many one day events.  I found out that from the four contestants last year they continued long after and still make it a habit so that is what we want on a bigger scale.

So Tony and WBLiveSurf, Dale Carter plus word of mouth from the kids.  Anyone else helping to spread the word?

This year Robert Ray from Mellow Mushroom has agreed to help out and judge.  The Surf House has agreed to put it on their blog and help judge.  Kneela Bags, designer reusable grocery bags, are onboard as well as a really cool prize pack from Sea Shepherd –famous for their whaling involvements on Whale Wars.  And, of course, Local Sessions.  Not to mention at least a week from Indo Jax Surf School.

Wow!  That’s really cool and pretty impressive.

Yea, A lot more people seem to be coming on to it.  Especially after seeing how much trash was collected last year.  We had close to two tons worth of trash.  The point is that if four people can collect that much, imagine how much impact a bigger number could make!  You really have to get your hands dirty to find out.

How did you get the idea?

I’ve been teaching about the environment since I started in the classroom and this is going on my eighth year.  I’ve always been big into surfing and last year, hiking through the state park with my dog, I just began to get really frustrated with how much trash I was seeing.  I thought if I threw in the surfboard I might get a lot more people out there.  I’m really excited about it.  My goal is to get the word out and, hopefully, get people involved.  Aside from grade level, anyone from anywhere can get involved.  I’m willing to ship prizes anywhere if it gets people active.

What has been the biggest challenge in seeing this come to fruition?

The biggest challenge was actually sticking with it.  You get frustrated.  I was trying to get past just beaches and with all the trash-I was bringing back three and four contractor garbage bags filled to the top and barely seeing a dent-it seemed to be fruitless.  We got some snow during the time and it became a challenge to keep going.  After about ¾ of the way through I started seeing a difference.  Sometimes while you’re out there doing it you see some dolphins or wild life and that would get me pumped up, just realizing that it’s a much bigger thing than just me.

So your love for the outdoors and the ocean environment is what gave birth to this whole idea.

Yea.  If kids want to be able to use the ocean when they are as old as us and not be told, “no surfing due to spills” then hopefully we can draw attention to that.  As surfers we pride ourselves on being able to be connected to the environment and now we have the chance to take action.

Yea, that would be terrible.  That hurts on a couple of levels.  One is the idea that we could be shut out of our shared love for waves and two, you just called us old.

[Laughing] Yea I know.  I feel guilty about it too. [More laughter]. The biggest thing is that this makes a lasting change-even if it is just a small drop in a large bucket.

What has been the most rewarding part for you?

Just seeing less trash, you know?  The contestants from last year called me throughout the summer letting me know they had just picked up a bag or whatever.  Really kept me motivated.  We have a kind of weird philosophy with all the different camps we run that the ocean can really help heal physically and mentally and now we can leave the river or ocean a little cleaner, a little healthier.  Maybe there is just a little effect [from our efforts] and that helps me sleep at night.

Well you’ve got me convinced.  January 22nd I’ll be out there and I hope all the best for you and us.

Thanks a lot man.  Me too.

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