Bodhi Surf + Yoga, while now a thriving small business, is at its core a passion project. It was founded as a way to share what we love with others. Additionally, it attracts enthusiastic staff and interns and has awakened passion and purpose in its guests. That fact more than any other is what makes us so proud to have created Bodhi Surf + Yoga. It’s no secret that something we are all passionate about here at Bodhi is protecting the environment, which is why we are so extremely excited to share the news that we have achieved carbon neutrality as of April 2019.
This process was greatly assisted by our former intern/current staff member, Spencer Dunlap, who conducted a rigorous audit of our carbon footprint and worked hand-in-hand with our partners, NativeEnergy, to bring this dream into fruition. In the article below, he writes about the thoughts he has during this process — the passion he feels is palpable. It reflects what we here feel at Bodhi, and in its way, explains why we opt to take strong action, for example: go carbon neutral. Ultimately, this post is less about tooting our own horn, and more about stoking the same sense of urgency that we feel, in those around us. We hope you enjoy, and more importantly, take action.
Serendipitous unfolding of events
It is extremely humbling to look back at the chain of events that led me here, to Bodhi Surf + Yoga, and realize that my path could have brought me to an infinite number of alternate destinations. I grew up the son of a successful American collegiate basketball coach, and thus, my adolescence was consumed by sports. The thing about being an athlete, and a good one at that, is that the lifestyle can cause one to become overly self-involved. Show me a former collegiate or professional athlete, and I will show you someone who has gone through an identity crisis.
It took me several years to overcome my own identity crisis, and after nearly two decades of competing at the highest level of my sport (baseball), I had a difficult time figuring out who I was outside of that pursuit. Upon entering my sophomore year at the University of San Diego, I was forced to declare a major that would ultimately become a fallback once my baseball career was over.
The majority of my teammates chose either Business or Communications, as those were the two majors that coexisted favorably with the tremendous workload that being a college athlete entails. But I had no interest in either of those fields of study, and I was not about to conform to something just because it would be more conducive to my baseball schedule.
I desperately wanted to be a Nutrition major, as I had recently devoured several books and documentaries on the subject, and found myself hungry for more. However, USD did not offer said major, or anything akin to it. The closest major I could find was Environmental Studies, so I figured I would give it a shot. In hindsight, I recognize both the fickleness of this decision, as well as its ultimately salubrious nature. I stumbled upon a field that I was destined for, although it took me many years to recognize this good fortune.
My initial interest in Nutrition came from watching the documentary Food, Inc., which details the disgustingly deceptive and harmful methods in which food is produced in my home country, the United States (and now, much of the rest of the world). I discovered a massive-scale food production system built upon fossil fuels, monoculture crops, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, genetically modified plants and animals, and feedlots that function more like animal concentration camps. It was the first time I realized I had been eating junk food nearly my entire life — no wonder I had bad acne and a perpetual stomach ache. Thus ensued my uphill battle to find healthy food alternatives in a society sullied by ubiquitous gluttony.
Falling into Environmental Studies
Part of this journey included reading dozens of books about organic farming and homesteading techniques, and in so doing, discovering that humans historically had a very different relationship with nature compared to today — a relationship that was at least vaguely symbiotic. Eventually, I came to realize that post-industrial humans have the power and capability to completely alter the planet, and even destroy it. We have also gone to great lengths to subvert this truth, or at least convince ourselves otherwise.
If we view the world as a single large biosphere — an interconnected aggregate of countless smaller ecosystems — we can see that the much larger global ecosystem is out of balance. Homo sapiens, with our myriad of technological advances, have tipped the scale in our favor. But one thing scientists know for sure, is that ecosystems eventually find their way back to equilibrium. The infinitely intelligent and complex system we call “the environment” is now moving the gauge in the opposite direction, as evidenced by the rapidly increasing frequency and scale of “natural” disasters occurring all over the planet.
I vividly remember the precise moment I realized the world of the future would look very different from the world of today. I was sitting in a college course titled “Environmental Issues,” and my professor was lecturing about human growth rates and population increase. Born into a world of five billion people in 1992, I was surprised to learn that the current population (in 2015) had eclipsed seven billion people. My professor went on to inform us that by 2050, the world would be home to roughly ten billion people. Adding more people to a planet that is already running out of viable resources to support the current population, is an infinitely complex issue that will need to be addressed during my lifetime.
I was recently asked if, given my knowledge of the potentially dire future of the planet (at least from an anthropocentric perspective), I would still be willing to bring a child into this world. After much teetering — and mostly for selfish reasons — I answered “yes.” I answered yes because I have to believe in the goodness of humanity, and in our ability to work ourselves out of this pickle, and into a brighter future. Otherwise, what would be the point of carrying on?
Sadly, we have thus far proved ourselves incapable of making the changes necessary to enact a livable future on this planet, as evidenced by the fact that humans — in just the past thirty years — have burped out more than half of the total carbon dioxide emitted since we first started burning fossil fuels. This thirty-year period is also the same amount of time humans have understood that our climate system is perilously affected by the burning of fossil fuels.
It deeply saddens me that the overwhelming majority of Westerners, many of whom have at least a slight understanding of the science behind climate change, somehow continue to live lives of excess, as if they have no stake in the matter. If you disagree with this statement, try to digest the fact that in 2018, humans emitted more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other year on record. Not to mention that the United States recently elected a president who claimed climate change was “a hoax,” and proceeded to announce his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.
Furthermore, the cruel reality is that the majority of people most affected by climate change are not the ones responsible for inducing it. The developing world, especially those living near the equator, will undoubtedly be hit the hardest, and the swiftest. As someone currently living less than ten degrees north of the equator, I now have a compelling stake in influencing the developed world — the world I grew up in — to recognize the necessity for serious and immediate action on climate change. I am up for the challenge, and grateful to have a say in the matter.
In full disclosure, this is not the article I planned on writing when I sat down at my computer this morning, cup of Costa Rican coffee in my hand, David Wallace-Wells’ bestselling book The Uninhabitable Earth by my side. Maybe this diatribe was spurned on by leafing through my notes from the aforementioned book, or maybe I am simply tired of tiptoeing around the elephant in the room.
Carbon neutrality: A call to action
My original intention was to write a warm and fuzzy article announcing that Bodhi Surf + Yoga recently achieved carbon neutrality by voluntarily investing over $2,000 in renewable energy to offset its business-related carbon emissions (including those of guests and providers) for the 2018 fiscal year. This is a monumental achievement, one that further sets Bodhi apart from a great many businesses on this planet.
But our goal is not to set ourselves apart — we simply cannot afford it, and I do not mean financially. Our reason for pursuing carbon neutrality goes much deeper than an innovative marketing ploy to separate us from our competitors. We want our competition to join us at the table. And everyone else, for that matter.
Rumi once said that in order to change the world, we must first change ourselves. Ultimately, Bodhi wants to change the world for the better. In fact, we need things to change if we wish to carry on at current capacity. Therefore, we have elected to change ourselves first. Is it too much to ask others to do the same?
Written by Spencer Dunlap