Interview With Leave No Trace

‘Many outdoor providers pay lip service to being carbon neutral or green’ explains Ross Beese from TYF in Pembrokeshire, an activity provider who provide a variety of activities on the coast ‘but what we want to push is a real, measurable change.”

Ross is talking from TYF, an activity provider in St David’s, Pembrokeshire. Surrounded by seals and puffins (the area, that is, not Ross) the scenery is stunning and TYF provides the perfect place for coasteering, kayaking, climbing, surfing, rock pooling and more for schools, training and team building and stag dos. (“We tend to get the quieter ones” Says Ross, “Apart from the 80 school kids that were here the other week…” )

Ross is a local surfer, instructor and outdoor enthusiast from Pembrokeshire who moved to St David’s 7 years ago for the coast action, which is diverse, with flat and calm conditions for paddling in and stormy, adrenaline rushing waves for power jumping  and surfing.

TYF were the very first company to start providing coasteering as an activity back 26 years ago under the management of Andy Middleton, a keen scrambler who was the first to market the idea to beginners.  TYF  also started the very first kayak freestyle championships around the same times, a new event which is now taken part in all over the world, but started on the serene and beautiful Pembrokeshire coast.

TYF have a very strong green ethos which underpins everything they do, and they plan to go carbon neutral by 2025. They also give away 1% of their yearly sales to a initiative called 1% to the planet. Because they take their responsibilities as an outdoor provider very seriously, even if their day job of surfing, riding waves and heading out to the wall for a climb is not necessarily ‘serious’ I caught up with Ross to ask if being ‘carbon neutral’ was achievable for all sizes of companies.

Is it a pipe dream to ask that all activity providers change how they work or to give away 1% of their sales profits?

“Definitely not. As people who work in the outdoors we can see first hand the damage that can be caused to the coastline from the environment.  In Pembrokeshire the local activity providers have all come together to create a proper road map of how we can achieve environmental harmony in the local area, simple stuff like staying away from the animals and just common sense stuff that makes a difference. As for us at TYF, we give away 1% of our sales in the 1% for the planet scheme, but it’s not just about big businesses. We have freelance journalists who are giving the same away, all in an effort to do something.”

It’s clear that Ross and the team at TYF are the real deal and keen to actively pursue change for the environment. Rather than just donating money (over £6000 this year alone) the team are involved in a variety of projects like Hay On Earth, the Size of Wales Project (“The news always says ‘a rainforest the size of Wales was burnt down’ – we wanted to make the phrase ‘the size of Wales’ something positive) as well as getting involved in music and film events to raise money, all down to the gear they use.

“We are a big fan of Patagonia who are 1% members, and we make sure that our wetsuits, our kayaks, even our shoes are made from recycled plastics, no oils- we encourage surfing and enjoying local waves rather than flying abroad..There are plenty of ways to reduce your carbon output.”

What about the onsite Eco Camp- is it just a case of a solar panel and no TV?

“Well, we do have solar power, but the camp’s idea is that it can be reached by public transport, by bus or train. You don’t need a car either when you’re here, we can literally kayak anywhere we need to, or walk. We make a day of it, with a walk to the beach and a picnic, so it’s really accessible to anyone. It can fit up to 70 people. “

With real green credentials, TYF are offering sustainable services that will no doubt benefit them for years to come. By starting with their local area and by also getting involved on a larger scale, TYF will appeal to many outdoor users who want to ensure the longevity of their favourite area.

You can read about 1% for the planet hereHay on earth here, and The Size Of Wales Project here

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