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.
At Our offices
SKILS is currently working to be certified carbon neutral. For example, our base uses rain water for all water applications from drinking water to showers. The potable water we use on our trip is rain water from our base, treated by filters and UV. Our base was built mostly using local salvage wood from cut blocks, and generated very little garbage and we are in the process of installing solar panels.
On our expeditions, we use mostly eggs, meat, fish and shellfish that are organic and locally grown and harvested. The high quality fair trade and organic coffee we offer our clients is locally roasted in Ucluelet.
We are taking initiatives to radically reduce and eliminate single use plastic bottles and containers on our programs. We use nalgene containers that we wash and reuse after each trip. We use stainless steel bottles for drinking water when clients need one.
When communicating amongst staff and with clients, we rely on electronic files to reduce our paper use. We recycle what little paper we use
The equipment we use
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 or reused.
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 8-12 clients out to us.
- We are actively developing an online learning platform to reduce the volume of travel required for our courses.
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 in the outdoor community, SKILS created 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 minimum 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 infrastructure to reduce human footprint, pollution and interactions with wildlife. This includes building wilderness outhouses and food caches.
Our support for coastal environmental advocacy groups
- We financially support Friends of Clayoquot Sound (FOCS) and Clayoquot Action. Both organizations’ missions are to protect the ancient temperate rainforest and wild ocean of Clayoquot Sound.
- We support the BC Marine Trail Network with volunteer hours and money.
- We financially support Pacific Wild whose mission is to raise awareness and protect the Great Bear Rainforest.
Our amazing Staff
We support our staff by providing them opportunities for personal development through mentorship and courses. We promote a healthy lifestyle, with a good work-life balance.
Our Local communities of Ucluelet and Tofino
We support and empower local communities of Ucluelet and Tofino where we have our base. Since 2007, SKILS has run the outdoor leadership program for the Ucluelet Secondary School (Tofino and Ucluelet share the same high school). We give $7000 annually to this program as part of our community involvement. The students gain a lot of skills for the outdoors and develops resiliency. The certifications gained during the course includes VHF Marine Radio Operator Certification, 50 hours Wilderness First Aid and CPR Level C, Paddle Canada Level 1 and 2 Skills and SKGABC Level 1 Guide Certification. At the end of the program the students lead a 5 day trip in the Broken Group Islands in the Pacific Rim National Reserve. Some of them will go on to work as paid kayak guides. We love inspiring people.
Our Paddling Community
SKILS has been a proud sponsor of the Pacific Paddling Symposium since it’s inception.
Our team also actively works to support paddling through a variety of activities that include writing articles and books, sitting on Boards of Directors, volunteering time with youth programs and local clubs.
Our Paddling Community