kits beach celebration june 8 (large) Location:   Kitsilano Beach and Kitsilano Yacht Club (Vancouver, BC)

Did you know that plastic debris in our oceans kills 1 million sea creatures a year?

Be part of the solution on June 8th and join Surfrider Foundation and our partners for our World Oceans Day Celebration at Kits Beach! Help clean up one of our beautiful local beaches in celebration of this international event. Get ready for games, prizes, and art while making a difference in a fun and easy way. And there’s more -- keep the celebration going with our beach cleanup after-party at Kits Yacht Club. Grab a beer and barbecue while you listen to the cool sounds of local BC band Oceans & Lights.


Learn how you can reduce and reuse to help keep debris out of our oceans with activities and games from Surfrider and our partners, including SPEC, Whole Foods, and CPAWS-BC. Oh, and did we mention you could win cool prizes for testing your trash and ocean knowledge? We’ll be having a variety of activities including scavenger hunts and a stand-up paddle board race presented by Mountain Equipment Co-op open to everyone! Enjoy our beautiful oceans while you compete for great prizes from our sponsors.

Help us protect where you play by cleaning our beach along side talented local artists who will transform the trash collected into works of art. We find the craziest things each month at our beach cleanups -- find the most interesting item of the day and you’ll be awarded a prize from our friends at Sitka.


Don’t miss out on our beach cleanup after-party hosted at Kits Yacht Club. Surfrider Vancouver members and volunteers get in for free, and a limited number of non-member tickets are available for just $10!


Prizes for our beach cleanup competitions earlier in the day will be awarded while you enjoy live music by local BC band Oceans & Lights and a barbecue sponsored by Whole Foods Market and RBC.

Not only that, but our friends at Mountain Equipment Co-op will be letting you test out their standup paddle (SUP) boards to celebrate our beautiful oceans all day long.

Meet and greet with our partners and sponsors at our after-party including the shaper of the custom board you could win in our surfboard membership contest and learn how to get in on the action. All members of Surfrider Foundation (only $25 to join) are automatically entered to win a handcrafted custom surfboard courtesy of Switchblade Surfboards, with 100% of proceeds going to Surfrider Foundation.


Like Us on our  Surfrider FACEBOOK Page

Sign Up and get your BBQ ticket here on our Evenbrite Page



Starbucks, Marriott, Whole Foods Market and RBC Royal Bank.

Get to Know a Volunteer: Matt Unger, Ocean Advocate

Meet Matt, the 2014 Chair of the Vancouver Surfrider Chapter. He has dedicated his life to research and environmental advocacy.  matt-blog

 Q. What was your childhood like?

I’m from the small region of Manitoba called Greenland. The closest town, Landmark, is exactly in the centre of Canada and divides our country from East to West. I grew up on a family farm which taught me the value of hard work from a young age. We were home schooled, so once I finished my classes and chores each day, I was free to roam the pristine surroundings of our land. I spent most of my time outdoors in the boreal forest enjoying and studying the marshes and prairie watershed. Our family was active in 4-H where my dad led our annual “Adopt a Highway” program. Our 4-H group was responsible for maintaining the largest Adopt a Highway area of the highway free of litter and trash. We had fun with it, finishing cleanups with BBQs and games on one of our parent’s farms.

Q. What drew you to Vancouver?

When I first experienced Vancouver, I was stunned by the beauty of the city and its surroundings. I love that nature is at our doorstep and that it is an international city. Coming from -51C Winnipeg winters the climate is pretty great too.

Q. How does living in different areas of Canada give you a broader understanding of the current environmental state of our country?

Population density plays a huge part in the awareness of environmental issues. The public seems to push environmental policy much more in urban areas. When one group makes a negative impact on the environment we all enjoy it is much harder to ignore it when you see it every day. Protecting our environment, especially the oceans, is about making sure all stakeholders have a voice at the table. In cities like Vancouver we have much larger recreational communities who want to be able to enjoy nature, I think this gives us a strong voice.

Q. How long have you been involved with the Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Chapter?

I have been involved with Surfrider Vancouver for 2 years now. I first heard about Surfrider when I was working for Virgin Oceanic in California conducting ocean research. Surfrider originated in Southern California and has many chapters throughout the state an around the world. When I came to Vancouver, I attended a chapter meeting at Sitka and have been a member and a volunteer ever since.

Q. As the Chair of Surfrider Vancouver, what are your main duties?

This year, the Surfrider team is building and growing our chapter. My main duty is to grow and support this incredible team of leaders. Currently, I spend a lot of time networking with local government and community groups to raise awareness about plastic pollution and the current health of our oceans. Right now I spend a lot of my time partnering with other environmental groups and businesses to help plan events such as the Kits Beach Earth Month beach cleanup on April 12.

Q. What do you like best about beach cleanup events?

I really enjoy the fact that beach cleanups are quick and effective, zero waste and a lot of fun. We are able to record measurable data from each event and it’s great to kick back and enjoy a spotless beach after 2 hours of pitching in and giving back.

Q. How does plastic accumulation in the ocean affect us?

Well, plastic is everywhere in the ocean and only 10-15% of the total plastic accumulation is on the surface of the water, the rest either sinks or is suspended between the ocean’s floor and surface. The vast amount of polycarbon substances in the water is having a huge effect on our marine and bird life. Researchers like the 5 Gyres team spent months in the North Pacific Gyre taking samples from marine life and the water, there were no examples of life that had not been affected by plastic or the existence of humans. Science, as of late is just beginning to accept that broken down plastic can affect hormones in not only animals but also in the human body.

Q. In your opinion, what is the answer to reducing plastic in our natural environment?

We have to turn off the tap of single use plastics. The cost of this “convenience” is enormous. We need to grow our team and work together with communities, government and businesses to implement viable alternatives here in Vancouver that many other cities all over the world have already adopted.

Q. What is bioremediation and how long have you been studying it?

Bioremediation is the process of degrading toxins or contaminants using plants, bacteria or fungi. I have been studying fungi based bioremediation for 6 years; we are researching how fungi can be used to breakdown wastes from the oil, gas and mining sectors. While there has been a lot of promising lab research over the past few decades our goal is to advance the science in the field and encourage the resource industries to take advantage of solutions that are both natural and beneficial to the restoration of these sites.

A Surfrider Foundation Educational Evening: Marine Spatial Planning in BC

MSP-postcard-640x360-updatedIt’s getting crowded out there in the ocean. No, we’re not talking about the lineup at your favourite break. For centuries, the oceans have pretty much been regarded as the ultimate “wild west” where anything goes. But now we’re rapidly discovering that the ocean’s resources are not limitless, and that we can negatively affect conditions in the ocean and the viability of some “ocean uses” through the improper placement and implementation of other uses.

The Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Chapter invites you to an educational evening to learn about Marine Spatial Planning in BC.

Guest Speaker Dr. Andrew Day will present: What does Hishukisk Ts'awalk mean? What people on the West Coast of Vancouver Island are doing to protect the marine ecosystem and how you can be involved.


Event Details:


Jericho Sailing Centre 1300 Discovery St., Vancouver, BC North West Room (2nd Floor) 6:30 pm – 8:15pm

Free public event

Eventbrite - Marine Resource Planning Presentation


About the Speaker: 

ANDREW DAY, LL.B., Ph.D., Managing Director, West Coast Aquatic

Dr. Andrew Day has a law degree from Queen’s University and a Ph.D. in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University.  His doctoral thesis focused on building and implementing ecosystem-based governance using the West Coast of Vancouver Island as a case study.  He has continued to implement ecosystem management on the West Coast, as well as advising federal, Provincial, First Nations, and local governments on integrated resource governance more broadly.

About West Coast Aquatic:

West Coast Aquatic has been working with local businesses, groups and communities to develop plans and tools that will help balance the many uses of the coastal environment and ensure a healthy economy, culture and environment.

Get to know a volunteer: Nikki protects where she plays

Nikki Johnston works in communications by day, moonlights as a SUP instructor, and stills finds time to volunteer with the Surfrider Foundation.  Originally from Knowlton Quebec, and now the Snowrider Project Lead, Nikki protects the places where she plays.

Nikki protects where she playsQ. When did your passion for the preservation of our environment begin for you?

Well, I don’t consider myself to be an environmental activist, but I am someone who loves the outdoors and is concerned about keeping it healthy for future generations. The ocean in particular has always been a love affair of mine that has grown over the years, from playing in the ocean as a kid to surfing, SUPing and sailing as an old timer.

Q. What are your words of wisdom for people who are concerned about the state of our oceans?

I think that I’m still learning about environmental issues that are happening in Canada and around the world. They are complex issues, so I try to read about it in the paper and on social media. Probably the best thing to do is to get involved, learn more and become an ambassador for healthy oceans. Start small. I always like to tell people that you don’t have to be an expert in environmental issues to get involved with the Surfrider Foundation.

Q. How long have you been involved with the Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Chapter?

Just over a year. Last year I was the Volunteer Coordinator for the chapter and this year I will be helping with the Snowrider Project.

Q. What is your favourite part of living in Vancouver?

Skiing, mountain biking and paddling all in one weekend. It’s a tough life. I love having the mountains and ocean in my backyard.

Q. How has living in different areas of Canada given you a broader understanding of the current environmental state of our country?

There are different environmental issues faced by different areas of the country – but it seems like many stem from similar problems, like natural resource extraction. In BC, we worry about the Northern Gateway Pipeline, and in Quebec, as we recently saw, we now worry about oil being transported through our small towns.

Q. What inspired you to attend beach cleanups?

They are a good entry point to the Surfrider Foundation. I wanted to get involved with an environmental organization and with people who shared similar interests.

Q. What do you like best about beach cleanups?

The most important part of the cleanups is realizing how much trash is actually on our shores. I was pretty surprised to find everything from kids’ toys, to underwear, to needles. It can be pretty gross. I think cleanups certainly help create awareness about the huge amounts of trash and plastic in our oceans.

Q. What is the Snowrider Project?

The Snowrider Project is a program by the Surfrider Foundation that helps to bring awareness to the hydrological cycle and encourage those who enjoy the mountains to protect them.

This winter from January through March we'll be at Mt Seymour for their Monday night Shred for the Cure, Ladies Ride Free evenings. We'll be talking to skiers and riders, while handing out free hot chocolate in reusable mugs. The campaign slogan is “Snow melts, trash doesn’t”. We are trying to bring awareness to the fact that whatever trash is left on the mountains will eventually make its way to the oceans.

Q. What do you enjoy most about Mt Seymour’s Shred for the Cure series?

Talking about the hydrological cycle, the hot chocolate, the people, and oh yeah, the cheap night skiing.

Q. How long does the Snowrider Project run for?

During the winter, we'll be at Shred for the Cure from the end of January to the end of March on Monday nights. We'll host our annual mountain cleanup in the summer once the snowpack melts. Stay tuned for a firmer date later this spring.

Q. How does plastic accumulation on ski hills affect our oceans?

Plastic finds its way into the ocean through runoff, then photodegrades into smaller pieces and marine life will often mistake it for food. I am no expert, but you can read more about it through the Surfrider’s Rise Above Plastics campaign.

Q. What can people do to reduce their plastic footprint while skiing or riding?

Abide by the golden rule of the outdoors - leave no trace. But mostly, don’t throw your cigarette butts off the chairs.

Visit Nikki and more of our volunteers at the Surfrider Foundation tent at Mt Seymour until end the of March for Shred for the Cure evenings. Ladies, click here to find out where to pick up your voucher.

Follow Nikki at @NicolaMJohnston.

Get to know a volunteer: Brian Berry talks waste audits

Meet Brian Berry, Surfrider Vancouver volunteer and recent graduate from the Environmental Protection Technology program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. We quizzed Brian on what it means to volunteer and how waste audits help us help our oceans. Brian Berry, Surfrider volunteer

Q. When did your passion for the preservation of our environment begin?

A. Firstly, my father’s mentoring and wisdom and respect for the outdoors really opened my eyes to the importance of our surroundings. I grew up in the Mojave desert in a small town of 900 people called Inyokern. The dessert was my backyard and I was taught to keep your back yard clean. While out hunting we would always pick up our own and other’s trash. My family also adopted a portion of the highway close to town. It was our responsibility to keep the sides of the highway clear of garbage.

Secondly, in the United States, there is a television station call the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS). The show Nature would air and explored other environments on the planet. Because I grew up the desert, seeing the planet’s diverse ecosystems was so exciting to me! It seemed like exploring jungles, rivers and rain forests were actually filmed on other planets.

And thirdly, Paul Richard, the Chair of the Environmental Protection Technology program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University really put his faith and encouragement in me to begin my education and career helping the environment.


Q. How long have you been involved with the Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Chapter?

A. The first beach cleanup I attended was at Wreck Beach in March 2011. I have been attending beach cleanups and monthly meetings ever since.


Q. What inspired you to attend beach cleanups?

A. My love for the beach and desire to take care of them.


Q. What do you like best about beach cleanup events?

A. They are fun to attend. It’s also very satisfying to search out trash and dispose of it properly. Every piece collected is one less that ends up in the ocean.


Q. What is a beach waste audit?

A. A waste audit is a somewhat scientific process where a section of the beach is marked off and we collect the trash within that area. The size of the section is measured from the high tide line to the low tide line and stretches along the shoreline for (X) meters. The trash collected is then sorted, counted, and documented.


Q. How long does it take to conduct a beach waste audit from start to finish?

Jericho transect

A. If there are three or four people helping, the trash collection takes about 1.5 hours as it takes awhile to pick up all the micro trash. Sorting of the trash lasts 20 minutes and then it takes one person about an hour to input the data into an Excel document; so about 3 hours in total.

Q. What inspired you to start conducting waste audits?

A. I first learned about waste audits in my waste management course at Kwantlen which included a whole campus waste audit as one of the final assignments. The entire class counted all the garbage on campus. I thought it was interesting to discover and record the things people threw away.


Q. Why is the data collected from a waste audit important? How can the data be used to increase awareness of plastic pollution?

A. Waste audits help to increase awareness and create a metric for people to understand garbage in different way. We live in a result based world where data and numbers speak volumes when trying to get your point across.


Q. What has been the most interesting or bizarre plastic waste you have come across while cleaning beaches?

A. During the November 2013 clean up at Jericho Beach I found a lot, and I mean a lot of plastic tips for small cigars. It was strange because I found them all in a very localized area.


Q. Will you be conducting a beach audit at Surfrider's next beach clean on January 25th?

A. Absolutely. I hope to conduct a waste audit at every beach cleanup that is organized by Surfrider Vancouver. Creating and building a database will help our cause tremendously. January 25th is also my birthday so I’m planning on bringing all my friends to celebrate.


Q. How can people learn more about beach clean ups and waste audits?

A.The Surfrider foundation and the 5 Gyres websites are good start.

(Ed. note - Join Surfrider Vancouver for our Habitat Island Cleanup & Volunteer Orientation January 25th to see a transect demonstration. Download the full results of the Jericho Beach waste audit)


Q. Where do you see yourself in five years?

A. Hopefully as an environmental manger in a small waste management firm or environmental consulting company.


Please contact Brian at if you have any further questions. He is also available for pro bono environmental consulting.