As a student at UCSB working towards my Environmental Studies major, I am constantly analyzing interdisciplinary issues involving political, economic, and social aspects. Studying our world’s environmental issues at UCSB is a rewarding experience, but it wasn’t until I became the Sustainability Intern at Volcom that I saw such environmentally conscious ideas put into action. Working side by side with Derek Sabori (Volcom’s Sr. Director of Sustainability) has changed my perspective on what is possible in the realm of making a positive environmental impact.
While working at the Volcom HQ in Costa Mesa, I have seen the persistent efforts required to achieve sustainability across an international company. Volcom has set many goals in sustainability that it is striving to achieve by 2016: increase the amount of sustainable materials and processes in all product mixes, continue Give Backs to community-based programs, publish a comprehensive EP&L report, and reduce the company’s carbon emissions, waste and water usage by 25%.
These goals have been ingrained into Volcom’s culture. For example, the Volcom Give Back Series facilitates programs and events for the communities in which Volcom operates. This summer I have organized a few of these events including the collaboration beach clean up with the Surfrider Foundation HB/SB and the SOY Surf Days, where we taught the at-risk youth of Costa Mesa how to surf. One of the company’s most renowned initiatives is the new Sustainable by Design approach used in the 2014 Volcom Pipe Pro. It stands out amongst all other contests because it prioritized reducing its environmental impacts and providing social benefits for the local community. With the new approach, the contest received a certification as a Deep Blue Surfing Event™ and truly set the bar for contests in the future.
Perhaps the most daunting challenge that Volcom has taken on is an EP&L (Environmental Profit and Loss) – placing a monetary value on a company’s environmental impact along the entire supply chain. Conducting an EP&L analysis is one of the most innovative concepts in sustainability right now and will ultimately account for all of the natural resources consumed in the making of products. This analysis will allow the company to make better decisions regarding their impact on the environment and help them better manage long term risks as Volcom grows as a company. Even with reinforcing guidance from their parent company Kering, the task is easier said than done. An EP&L moves farther and farther back into the supply chain and eventually analyzes the environmental impact caused by things like yarn dyeing, fiber processing, and animal/crop farming. Doing so is like finding out what kind of pencil your great-grandfather used in third grade and, even more so, what his handwriting looked like – not easy. But they’re making it happen!
Working with the Sustainability team at Volcom has exposed me to an entire library of valuable resources. My experience has given me a huge appreciation for the audacity that people have in tackling an environmental projects such as an EP&L. One of the most important things that I’ll take away is that it will take a persistent and valiant team effort in order to fulfill my dreams of revolutionizing the world we live in and establish a sustainable way of living.