A Conversation With Greg Long

Jan. 2019 | Words by Klean | Images by @arefrapwell, @alejandro_berger, @almackinnon

At Klean we get to work with all sorts of interesting people throughout the world who are committed to reducing single-use waste and living Klean in a big way. Professional big wave surfer and Klean ambassador Greg Long is one of those people. In addition to charging some of the heaviest, most remote waves on the planet Greg is a committed environmental activist. We recently caught up with him during his busy travel schedule to ask a few questions about life, ocean conservation and tropical islands.

Klean: You are a busy guy, always on the move! Where are you now and what are you up to next?

Greg: I am currently at home in San Clemente, CA getting ready for a busy weekend at the Ohana Music festival which is a three-day event put on by Eddie Vedder and Live Nation. The event hosts a great array of musicians from around the world with a portion of proceeds going to support a number of local environmental organizations. Along with bringing in an array of incredible music they have also created a space for these organizations, artists, and activists to share their work and educate festival attendees about different important environmental and conservation initiatives and how they can become involved. Over the three days, I am both hosting and sitting on a few different panel discussions, ranging from offshore oil drilling, plastic pollution, nuclear waste storage and of course big wave surfing. And I will without a doubt be enjoying a fair bit of music as well. Afterwards I head over to Europe for a few weeks to host and speak at a few Patagonia events about surfing and environmental activism, after I’ll be settling in back at home in California and getting ready for the Northern Hemisphere big wave season.

Surfrider FoundationKlean: Talk to us about your involvement with the Surfrider Foundation. They have a been a great partner of ours over the years and we are so impressed with the work they do to protect our ocean. How and why did you get involved with them?  

Greg: I have been involved with the Surfrider Foundation for well over a decade. Since I was a kid, I had always seen their name in the surfing world as they were diligently addressing local environmental issues, from urban run-off, protecting coastal access, or standing in opposition of ill-conceived development projects. Their Southern California chapter office is in my hometown of San Clemente, so when I became more involved personally with these issues, it was only natural to align my energy and with the organization that was on the front lines combatting them. The Surfrider Foundation is extremely effective at facilitating positive change bridging local knowledge with experts in law, policy and science.  


Klean: You’ve traveled the world extensively and spent a great deal of time in some pretty diverse marine environments. I’d imagine you’ve seen some of the perils faced by our ocean first hand. What sticks out in your mind?

Greg: If I were to pick one issue that is undeniable and problematic in nearly every corner of the world, it is marine plastic pollution. Our dependency on plastic is out of hand and sadly the majority of the world doesn’t have an efficient waste management program in place to deal with the material after it has been used. Sadly, in such places, the majority of it ends up in our ocean whereupon it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces wreaking havoc on the natural environment and even ends back up in our own food supply.   There is a very delicate balance that exists between the ocean and all of life on this planet and if we continue to neglect it, the future won’t be very bright for us humans. The good news within this plastic pollution epidemic is that every single piece of it, is created by us. Therefore it could be easily solved by us if we were only to accept responsibility, change our consumption habits and lifestyles (ie. stop using plastic), and use alternative environmentally conscious alternatives. as there are now plenty.

Klean: Getting involved in a meaningful way with such a wide reaching and important issue like ocean conservation can look pretty overwhelming to the average person. What advice do you have for someone, surfer or not, who is looking to get involved?

Greg: You are absolutely correct, if you look at the most pressing environmental issues from a global perspective, they can very quickly become overwhelming, leaving people to feel that their individual efforts and actions to stop them are pointless and won’t make a difference. The best advice that I can give somebody who is looking to get involved is to not worry about changing the world, but focus at first on simply their individual world and lives. The Surfrider Foundation actually has a slogan that sums up this idea very succinctly and that is “think global, but act local.” If we were all to adopt that mentality, and focus our energies towards changing our immediate lives and communities, the impact we would have would be tremendous. Complacency is one of the biggest threats we currently face in these battles. People believe that somebody else will solve these problems, or their actions don’t matter and this couldn’t be farther from the truth. We all have a role to play if we are going to solve these problems and the path to do so starts and the individual and personal level.

Greg Long, Klean Ambassador

Klean: Here’s a fun one for you to lighten things up a little: Someone drops you on a tropical island with a reeling right point break in your front yard and tells you that’s where you get to spend the rest of your days. You have all your surf gear, shelter and plenty of food and water. What two other things do you bring with you?

Greg: My girlfriend Taylor and an assortment of Klean Kanteen products…with all the above I could most certainly live happily ever after!