EXPEDITIONS. EVENTING. EDUCATION. CITIZEN SCIENCE. BUSINESS EDUCATION. MIXED MEDIA. PUBLIC SPEAKING
Plastic Tides combines adventure and science to address plastic pollution via Stand Up Paddleboard expeditions, Education and Outreach. Our 501c3 nonprofit was founded in 2014 by three Cornell University students— Christian, Gordon & Céline — on a mission to combine their love of water-sports with environmental action.
Our first ever expedition took us around the island of Bermuda on our SUPs, living self-sufficiently, orchestrating beach clean-ups with the community, organising trash-art workshops with kids, learning about the local fauna and flora and most importantly: showcasing the juxtaposition of amazing marine life with disgusting plastic pollution on this beautiful island. Founding Member, Julian Rodriguez, joined us on this expedition.
From there, Plastic Tides emerged as an NGO, and our adventures with purpose have taken us to remote streams of Hawai’i, to the Erie Canal in Upstate NY in frigid conditions, to remote alpine lakes in the French Alps… and around the world. We challenge ourselves on many different fronts — citizen science, expedition planning, event organization, kids’ education, SUP racing. And along the way, we’ve worked closely with Adventure Scientists to sample water for microplastics (see where we’ve been here), we’ve participated in banning microbeads in NY state which eventually led to a nationwide ban in the USA. And we’ve broken ground: being the first to show the presence of microbeads in inland waterways, the first to SUP le Lac Blanc in France at an altitude of 2,352 m (7,717 ft), the first to hike into Waimanu Valley with an inflatable SUP (13 hour hike along rugged terrain), the first to SUP the Ice Lakes in Wyoming at an altitude of 3,170 m (10,400 ft) and we’ve achieved more than one first descent river SUPing.
Today, we keep pushing boundaries, but with more focus. We have two yearly events: the Devil’s Isle Challenge (DIC) in Bermuda and the Labor Day Paddle Against Pollution in Upstate New York on Cayuga Lake. The DIC is the longest open ocean SUP race in the world— 40 miles around Bermuda, also known as the Devil’s Isle (and for good reason!). The race is accompanied by a plastic-free weekend, whereby any businesses we work with must significantly reduce their plastic footprint. At this race you’ll find America’s Cup athletes, as well as marine biologists from Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, conservation scuba-divers & TED speakers like Weldon Wade and education pros like Anne Hyde from Keep Bermuda Beautiful.
These events allow us to fund our SUP’r kids program— giving kids that don’t have the means, an opportunity to become clean water advocates whilst having fun on the water.
Every summer in Upstate NY we run two adventure conservation Plastic Tides camps for teenagers involving education, activism, and local expeditions. We also run two adult charter trips (weekend expeditions) along the Erie Canal in reminiscence of our 2014 Erie Canal Expedition during an unexpected Polar Vortex.
Business education has become integral to helping businesses reduce their plastic waste. Learn more about this here.
And of course, we stay well in tune within the SUP world— so you might find us distributing free water at Pacific Paddle Games (PPG) in California, racing alongside the future of river SUP at the New River Gorge, working on our river surfing skills, or initiating a beach clean-up at Sea Paddle NYC.
Learn about the three co-founders Christian Shaw, Gordon Middleton and Céline Jennison here!