SKILS strives to reduce the environmental impact of its programs. We also strive to contribute meaningfully to the sustainability of the wider paddling community by actively engaging others in the ecological ethics of paddling. Together, we can sustain a vibrant paddling environment.
Our Air Travel
Air travel is the single largest negative environmental impact of our courses and programs.
- Most of the time, we send 1 or 2 instructors out to our courses instead of flying 8-10 clients out to us.
- We purchase carbon credits for all our air travel.
- We are actively developing an on line learning platform to reduce the volume of travel required for our courses.
Most of our equipment is made from petroleum. We use durable, reliable equipment with the aim of reducing the amount of gear we need each year. We try to repair our equipment to extend its life. If we do replace gear, we try to find a use or a home for our older stuff so it gets recycled.
At Our Offices
SKILS has two offices. We rely on electronic files and communication to reduce our paper use. We recycle what paper we do use.
On Our Programs
Paddling itself is a relatively benign activity, with limited environmental impacts compared to air travel. Nevertheless, we actively discuss the environmental ethics of wilderness travel, and expect our staff to model best practices. We follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles on our programs. As a leader of the outdoor community, SKILS created the Low Impact Activity Guidelines for coastal paddling. These guidelines are now being adopted by other organization like the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of British Columbia.
Our involvement with BC Parks
Our staff are stewards of the land and sea. We take active and regular steps to protect our beautiful coast. In addition to practicing and promoting minimim impact generally, we work with BC Parks to achieve this goal through regular community service projects. These include:
- Cleaning beaches and shoreline
- Maintaining trails
- Building and maintaining infrastructures to reduce human footprint, pollution and interactions with wildlife.
- We financially support Friends of Clayoquot Sound (FOCS). FOCS mission is to protect the ancient temperate rainforest and wild ocean of Clayoquot Sound.
- We support the BC Marine Trail Network with volunteer hours and money.
Paddling can be hard on the body. Many of our staff work long seasons. We recognize that our staff is our most valuable resource, and we want them to keep working and having fun on the water for many years. Toward that end, in 2011, we have started a staff health and fitness program. As a first step, we welcomed Deane Studer D.C., ART to our team. Deane is working with us to offer staff regular assessments and treatments. As we move into next season, we'll be adding financial and practical opportunities for our staff to maintain and improve their physical and mental health.
"We had an *amazing* time, and Rowan was great to paddle with and provided us with lots of useful tips. My skills and confidence improved a lot paddling out West with Rowan – he provided me with feedback and tips to take my paddling up a notch (or two!). Rowan was very responsive to questions that I had, and provided clear explanations and demos. A lot of the time was unstructured (on my and Dave's request) with Rowan available to answer questions and provide demonstrations upon request.This is what we were looking for. A*very* positive experience - and I continue to day dream about paddling in BC!"
E.G. , Ontario, 2011