Protect what you love: Paddlers uniting create a cleaner environment

Brent Allen Outside Monterey Bay Point Lobos
Photographer: Serge Richard
Global Partner

Standup Journal’s team rider, Brent Allen Outside,  leads the charge for embracing stand up paddling as a dynamic platform in order bring people to the water and champion the preservation of our lakes, rivers and oceans.  Here’s how:

Brent Allen Outside Monterey Bay Point Lobos
Brent Allen is in his 3rd year of annual ocean clean ups, taking paddlers into the kelp beds where marine debris, specifically plastics, accumulate in order to restore them.  Photographer: Serge Richard

Be Passionate about what you Love:  Engender the Need to Protect it.

The birth of stand up paddling has created a new group of explorers and adventurers. This is in direct alignment with how surfing opened up the world to the never ending pursuit of waves in unseen destinations both near and far. Surfing media created the visual stimulus for more oceanfront real estate developments than most would believe. It’s true.

“My internal connection to protecting the ocean’s marine life simply evolves with my time spent in or on the water around the world.” – Brent Allen

The ocean always provides perpetual adventure opportunities and the birth of stand up paddling has provided a perfect craft to explore it.  Most people are passionate about what brings them happiness and equally passionate about protecting the things they love.  We are at a new crossroads today regarding how we are polluting our water and how long it has been going on.  The majority of people can relate to seeing plastics and trash on roads, highways , and beaches.  Once trash is pulled into the water, it goes ‘out of site, out of mind’.  We know about the 5-Gyres of floating trash in our oceans that spin in no man’s land unseen by the masses.

Stand Up Paddling has given us a different point of view of our water It you’re surfing a paddle board, you can see the sets rolling in from the horizon.  If you’re in clear water, you can look down and see into the aquarium.  You also see the floating plastics (bottle caps , micro-plastics , straws , etc.) that are polluting our waters.

Brent Allen Outside Monterey Bay marine sanctuary environment
Dislodging a shoe from the kelp, Brent takes his environmental advocacy seriously as a paddler. We have a voice and an opportunity to show others what needs to be done. Photo by: Brent Allen

Paddlers, you can do participate: Standup for the Environment

The GOOD NEWS is: If you are already reading Standup Journal,  you’re already a part of the new era of ocean stewardship.  My family tree is connected to the Cherokee Indians all the way back to the Trail of Tears. Now as I get older my sense of responsibility to stewardship continues to grow every year.

My internal connection to protecting the ocean’s marine life simply evolves with my time spent in or on the water around the world.

Kelp Beds Brent Allen outside Monterey Marine Sanctuary
Kelp Beds help to trap marine plastics where Brent and his helpers work to clean them up and preserve this impactful natural environment

Stand Up Paddling leads to Blue Mind & a need to protect the planet

Wallace Nichol’s scientific look at the relationship between water and the human brain in his book Blue Mind is a fantastic study about the neuroscience behind happiness. For me, it pulled together many scientific details that I could understand through my own ability to thrive in aquatic environments including oceans, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water.

Blue Mind explores the connection between people who spend time on or near the water and their physiological greater capacity for happiness.  If you’ve ever wondered why you feel so good when your near the ocean or on the water, this book has answers.

I have come to know Wallace J. Nichols Ph.d and wholeheartedly support the good work he is doing.  For more information on his work go to :

Brent Allen Outside Kialoa Environment
A former endurance athlete, Brent now focuses that energy on making a difference for the bodies of water he loves. He is committed to being a voice and advocate to keeping these waters clean. We salute you, Brent Allen!

Brent Allen Outside protects the environment through stand up paddling

My work in the endurance sports industry over the past 20 years has allowed me know watermen and women that have all impacted my respect for the ocean and knowledge of cultures from Hawaii to New Zealand.  Stand Up Paddling has generated outdoor enthusiasts around the globe in every type of aquatic environment available . The question is, “What can I do to help my section of ocean, rivers, lakes, streams?”

Brent Allen Outside Parajo River Monterey Bay
When state funding came through to protect the rivers flowing into Monterey Bay, Brent jumped on board to preserver the Parajo River in a clean up this past August. Photo: Brent Allen Outside

Awareness, Education & Action:  Stand up paddling advocacy

The first part of solving any problem is AWARENESS.  My example was plastics and trash being left behind on local beaches.  Then trash began to be pulled into the ocean and getting trapped in the Kelp beds.  These plastics would then break down and becoming micro plastics.  Local marine life later ingest these micro plastics and subsequently starve to death.  Dolphins and turtles were also getting entangled in fishing line and discarded fishing nets. The entire ocean food chain is getting infected from the small fish (with a stomach of plastics) being eaten by the harbor seal which is later eaten by the white shark.  The fish that are caught in the Monterey Bay that have ingested plastics are then served at the local restaurants.  This chain reaction is all very real.

The second part of the process EDUCATION. There are all types of ocean conservation groups around the world to choose from including fish and wildlife groups. The start of my education came from the local Monterey chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.  Two outstanding human beings Alison Goss and Serge Richard helped me to understand the entire plastics issue and how it harms the marine life.

Brent Allen Outside
Brent Allen in his natural habitat.

Paddlers & Environmentalists Coming Together to Make a Difference

Around the same time I met Morgan Hoesterey, a stand up paddle athlete & environmentalist and ocean sport filmmaker Chris Aguilar. They produced a moving documentary called, “Destination 3 Degrees “ ( Three degrees of latitude separate the Hawaiian Islands).  This documentary covered an incredible stand up paddle excursion throughout the Hawaiian Islands.  Trail blazers Morgan Hoesterey and Jenny Kalmbach paddled the entire Hawaiian Island chain raising awareness to the epidemic of plastics in the Pacific ocean.

“The rotting kelp is eaten by an entire ecosystem on the floor of the ocean and the plastics break down to micro plastic.” – Brent Allen

I happen to live in a hot bed of educated ocean scientist, schools, and marine life study groups which include The Monterey Bay Aquarium, The Hopkins Marine laboratory of Stanford University, The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Save Our Shores, California State University Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and a huge list of ocean advocates.

Brent Allen Outside Carmel California Surfrider clean up
Who can we partner with to create lasting change? Brent believes in networking with larger environmental organizations to make a broader impact.

Developing an Action Plan for Marine Advocacy

The third part  of solving the plastics epidemic is ACTION.  I basically figured out by spending a lot of time paddle boarding around the entire Monterey Peninsula how the currents worked  year -round from the North side which is Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and at the South end Carmel.   A primary section of the ocean seemed to keep plastics and trash in a holding area until major winter swells would flush things out. This location included Pebble Beach to Point Lobos.

My specific work became isolated from Stillwater Cove (Pebble Beach), Carmel Beach , Carmel River State Beach , Carmel River Lagoon and estuary , Monastery Beach , and Point Lobos State Reserve .

Brent Allen Kelp Beds and Clean Waters, paddlers, Carmel by the Sea
When you love something, you want to protect it. That’s how Brent Allen began his conservation efforts in the Monterey Marine Sanctuary in California.

Household Trash is Destroying our Oceans:  What you can DO

I now understand that plastics and trash from these locations get pulled with the currents and move the floating debris to the North side of Point Lobos and later get trapped in the kelp beds. FYI did you know plastic was invented in 1907?

Every winter, huge swells rip out the kelp beds and the kelp sinks to the bottom of Carmel Bay and the Carmel Underwater Canyon (6,000 feet deep).  Plastics we will say over the past 100 years have been dragged down with the kelp. The rotting kelp is eaten by an entire ecosystem on the floor of the ocean and the plastics break down to micro plastics.

These micro plastics then are pulled up to the top of the ocean with underwater currents and show up on the surface of the ocean.  Most micro plastics get trapped with the viscosity of the water on the surface, basically at the canopy of the kelp forests. The sea birds think these colored small items are food, the bait fish (small fish think its food) and they ingest it and starve to death because they can’t digest the foreign substance.

Kelp Beds Brent Allen outside Monterey Marine Sanctuary
Kelp Beds help to trap marine plastics where Brent and his helpers work to clean them up and preserve this impactful natural environment.

What about the whales?

The breaking point for me was whales.  Whales come through this dynamic section of the Pacific Ocean heading north or south all year long.  They stop and feed in Monterey Bay and Carmel Bay.  Some of the foods whales eat in mass quantity include sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel, capelin and sand eel. Basically, they are getting super-sized meals containing these plastics.

“It’s true when you see whales close enough to look them in the eye,  you’re connected in wanting to protect them.” – Brent Allen

Paddling in this area has allowed me to be in the water with whales consistently since 2014. It’s true when you see whales close enough to look them in the eye,  you’re connected in wanting to protect them.  In the past two weeks, I have paddled with humpback whales in Carmel Bay.  Listening to them spout (breath) is other worldly.

Brent Allen Outside Carmel California whale standup paddling
Brent’s standup paddle tours put people in close touch with nature to share in the wonder & awe of it … and lead them to wanting to protect what’s out there.

Paddlers Educating City Council

The most important part of our current hurdles regarding ocean plastics depend on data collection, or finding out what is in your water and bringing that information to your local city council.  Single use plastics are at the top of the list and we can create localized media campaigns to let more people know how they can reduce their plastic footprint

Here are two apps available for data collection: – an app to identify, map and collect the world’s litter

Clean Swell – a chapter of the Ocean Conservancy fighting for trash free seas

My first collaborative promotional project for the Monterey Bay Area started in 2016.  I sat down with my friend James DeLeon artistic genius and surf & paddlesport advertising legend and Community leader Shawn Adams owner of Monterey Signs and Santa Cruz signs.  We created a simple sticker designed by JD that says Protect Monterey Bay with a whale tail * fluke.  On the peel off back portion of the sticker, we chose different local non-profits that do some form of education and action of ocean stewardship in the Monterey Bay area . The backing would thank the group for the work they do and list their website. This allowed more people in the community to know all the different ways they could be involved.  The non-profit would not even know about this acknowledgement until I personally delivered stickers to them. The stickers are a simple altruistic gift (free) and I have been handing them out personally since 2016 .

Rainbow Fins Brent Allen Outside
A work of art, a statement and a recycled use: Rainbow Fins made this artistic fin representing debris found in marine environments.

My second collaborative item to bring awareness to plastics in the Monterey Bay / Pacific Ocean was when I met with Rainbow Fins co-owner, surfer & artistic wiz Sarah Broome.  I asked if they would create a fin with plastics & trash pulled from our beaches. Sarah pulled off an unbelievably beautiful fin design with small items of trash impregnated inside the fin.  They are available for purchase.

“I encourage you to become a leader in your community of water and leave things better than you found them.” – Brent Allen

My 3rd collaborative project is rolling out this week.  It begins on September 8th and is a REUSE project.  My favorite local coffee shop is ACME Coffee Roasting based in Seaside, CA . This project began February 2017.  ACME would leave the coffee bean burlap sacks at the front of the shop and patrons could make a donation to a local shelter and grab a burlap coffee bag.

I thought it would be cool if we remake the burlap coffee bags into beach clean up bags.  I called my friend Les “Doc” Waddel – he can make anything – and asked if he could sew a strap to a coffee bag.  He said, “Of course, Brent”.

Jaki Thurman,co-owner of ACME, tagged on by saying we should make the bags compostable.  So, I bought some hemp strap material.

brent allen outside Monterey Bay environment
Burlap bags rather than regular trash bags to help with the clean up are important. There is NO NEED to generate more plastic waste!

Clean Ups include REUSE of an alternate product to help save the environment

Les sewed 30 bags and we now have a solid reusable beach clean up bag from burlap coffee bags with hemp straps. When the bags get gnarly from use, we can just through away and know that it’s compostable.  The first batch we are selling for $20 each with $5 going to the local shelter, $5 going to Les for sewing, $5 going to Marin Life Studies and $5 back to Brent Allen Outside to cover costs and make a new batch.

Stand Up Paddle clean ups:   We just did a clean up of one of the local rivers, the Pajaro River, that flows to the Monterey Bay.  Save Our Shores just received a NOAA grant to do 14 river clean ups of watersheds that flow to the Monterey Bay between 2017-2018.

The Annual California Coastal Clean Up is September 16th.  I am in charge of  managing the clean up for Carmel River State Beach Lagoon and Wetlands.  This is a great location to stand up paddle.  So, in addition to the beach being cleaned, the community will be paddling in the Carmel River lagoon area pulling trash from the water before it flows out to the Carmel Bay.

Kelp Beds and Clean Water by Brent Allen Outside
Kelp Beds collect plastic debris and winter storms then drive the beds to the bottom of the ocean where fish and other sea life mistake the debris for food and ingest it.

My action plan is built around creating a community-based campaign of awareness for the individuals that visit the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  This will include an Annual Paddle Board Ocean Clean Up at Point Lobos , collaborative ocean stewardship work with other local non profits such as :

My next contribution will be based on collaborative ocean stewardship campaigns with local businesses. How to create community-based solutions that change legislation at the city level, county & state parks?

In the meantime, I encourage you to become a leader in your community of water and leave things better than you found them.

Be the Change,

Brent Allen Outside
Carmel by the Sea , CA

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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.