Conner Coffin is a WSL PURE Ambassador with a passion for music and gardening and leveraging his platform as an environmentalist to help slow climate change. We're thrilled to highlight Conner as our spotlight this month, and for the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. In addition to the spotlight, hear the full conversation with Conner from our Earth Day episode in a special bonus interview where he touches on growing up in Santa Barbara, his earliest memories of Earth Day, and more! Thanks Conner for taking some time to catch up with us, and for all you do!
Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA
Tell us about your background and what inspired you to have an environmental ethic?
I grew up here in Santa Barbara, California and got into surfing when I was 5 years old. Even before that I have memories of loving to be outdoors, spending time in nature, and playing at the beach. That love for nature has been super ingrained in me. As I grew up and became more aware of the effect that we as a population have on the pollution of our planet, it saddened me to think that what I loved so much could be compromised. It just felt really natural to try and use my voice and platform to help make our planet a better place. Even if it is only miniscule in the big picture, I think raising awareness and doing small things will hopefully add up over time. I also feel super fortunate to have made a living being in the ocean doing something that I love and feel it necessary to try and give back.
Last June the WSL announced its commitment to go carbon neutral. Why was that a big moment and how did it make you feel as an athlete?
I think this initiative was great! As surfers and as a tour traveling around the world we obviously have a very large carbon footprint compared to your average person on the planet. Here we are claiming that we are trying to fight climate change yet just in our existence of doing what we do, we are contributing to climate change. So, in that way I was really excited about offsetting our footprint. Obviously it would be better if we didn't have to take all of those flights, but at least in this way we are working to offset that whilst still doing what we love. I was even excited about participating in offsetting my carbon footprint outside of the WSL, but it was cool to see them invest in it and I think it shows their commitment to helping the environment.
How are you spending your time and what advice would you give to our readers regarding COVID-19?
I've been spending my time here at home in Santa Barbara. I feel extremely fortunate to be in a beautiful part of the world with plenty of space around, my family here, and also restrictions that are still enabling us to be outside and spend time in nature. I've been taking social distancing seriously, but within those guidelines have still been able to go on nice paddles, beach walks, and stay fairly active. It's such a crazy time in the world and I think getting exercise is so extremely important in mental health. I really encourage people to move as long as they can do so safely, even if it's picking up a yoga, stretching, or home workout practice. I've also been doing some breathwork most days and meditating. For me those two things make every day better. Whilst realizing the weight and severity of this situation, I've been trying to embrace the slower pace of life, find joy in the small things, and maintain extreme amounts of gratitude for my health and life. I encourage people to respect the guidelines but find activities and routines within them to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Stay positive because we will get through this!
To hear more from Conner, tune into our full bonus conversation below as well as the entire special episode of the podcast, where we honor the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day by digging into its oily Santa Barbara origins with local WSL athletes and leaders from Santa Barbara non-profit organizations. Explore what led to Earth Day's creation and the positive impact it has had on environmental activism and legislation with Championship Tour surfers Lakey Peterson and Conner Coffin, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper Kira Redmond, Community Environmental Council Program Director Michael Chiacos, and Environmental Defense Center's Chief Counsel Linda Krop.
Subscribe to WSL PURE | One Ocean wherever you get your podcasts and listen to our special 50th anniversary of Earth Day episode here or via the video below!