How a Skateboard Can Teach Kids About Sustainability

Reinventing the Outdoors contest: When skater legend Danny Way isn't doing gravity-defying aerials, he's supporting eco-awareness back on the ground.

UPDATED! Launched on Monday April 4, GOOD and the 2011 Ford Explorer will be devoting six weeks to the Reinventing the Outdoors Contest, which showcases amazing organizations like this one that are redefining the way we live, work, and play outside. Check in every day for a new story about the people, celebrities, and programs behind each organization. Help your favorite group win the $50,000 grand prize by voting for them starting Monday, May 16 through Friday, May 20.

In a career that now spans twenty-two years, pro skateboarder Danny Way has accomplished some gravity-defying feats. He's jumped the Great Wall of China (four times), set the Guinness World Record for speed on a skateboard, taken three straight Gold medals at the X Games, and has been immortalized digitally in his own video game. Often called the best skateboarder in the world, he was also one of the first pros to support the Action Sports Environmental Coalition (ASEC).

GOOD: Why become a pro skateboarder?
Danny Way: It was more or less my escape vehicle from some of the issues I was dealing with at home as a child. At a young age I didn't really have anything more than a skateboard to get me from point A to point B. As a result of the time I was spending on the board, my skills progressed pretty rapidly. With skateboarding, I feel like the possibilities are endless when it comes to exercising my creativity. With my [type of] brain, I need a new canvas every day.

G: How did you become involved with ASEC?
DW: I’ve been friends with Frank Scura [the founder of ASEC] since 1995. His vision and ideas are amazing. I represent ASEC because I believe in the cause and what it represents, and I do what I can to support it.

G: Why do you care about the environment?
DW: Nature plays a part in everything I do. Surfing is a dance with Mother Nature and the energy that’s being organically generated by the ocean. With skateboarding, you’re feeling the sun outdoors. You’re enjoying the mountains when you snowboard. I love the planet and everything in nature we’re so blessed to borrow and use, and I’m not okay with what’s happening with the environment. I support helping reverse the damage being done to our planet.

G: What do you find most compelling about ASEC’s goal for action sports athletes to serve as eco-conscious role models for kids?
DW: Kids have a lot longer on the planet than most of us, so we’re using the ASEC platform to plant the seeds of sustainability and grow a bunch of conscious minds. ASEC represents the strongest, gnarliest athletes on the planets and a lot of us care about the planet. If we’re recycling and eating organically and thinking about what kind of gas mileage our cars are getting, then kids see it’s cool to care and think about sustainability as a way of life. Kids look up to us; they follow what we do.

Screen capture from Way's video game, Skate 3

G: What do you enjoy most about being involved with ASEC?
DW: I get to go to cool places and talk to neat people and share in great knowledge from ASEC panels and seminars and events. It’s always a pleasure to be part of it, because there are so many people who care and so many conscious minds.

G: As someone who’s achieved some incredible skateboarding feats in your career, any goals for the future?
DW: I appreciate what I’ve accomplished, but there’s a lot left to do. It’s not about winning championships and getting points anymore; I’ve done that. To keep the fire burning for me, I need to create new challenges. It’s about creating new tricks and maneuvers. And I’d like to break all the records I have right now—by a significant degree.

G Why do you think ASEC is so important?
DW: In the last ten years, sustainability has gotten so mainstream, with the distribution of organic products in every grocery store by brands that used to be only in tiny hippie health food stores. ASEC has played a big part in turning on big industry to the concept of greening businesses and using cool sports to market eco-products and ideas. It’s a hub we all use in action sports to keep connected and to go out and articulate our vision of sustainability. Really, it’s just a community of people trying to do good for kids and the planet while being cool and having a ball.

Image 1 from
Image 2 from Electronic Arts

via Alan Levine / Flickr

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