Ocean activism: Adventures on a rubbish paddleboard

David Haze is a multiple world record paddleboarder and adventurer. He uses his adventures to raise awareness for issues impacting the natural world, particularly single-use plastic.

We first met David a year ago, when he was paddling round the Isle of Wight on a board made entirely out of rubbish.⁠

“The board itself is made from old scaffolding planks, and the wrapping was used to wrap sailboats.” The wind was whipping the sand around our feet as David Haze talked us through what his Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) was made from. It’s a behemoth of a board that barely looks like it would float, let alone paddle for long distances. “It’s made entirely from items found in a skip,” he told us.

David Haze with his paddleboard made out of rubbish

David Haze with his paddleboard made from rubbish

A rubbish paddleboard

David was about to start the second leg of paddling around the Isle of Wight on his rubbish paddleboard. At one point he reached into a pocket and offered us a handful of meal worms, one of his carbon neutral snack options. After politely declining, we watched as he heaved the board into the water, before slowly disappearing into the horizon, somewhat unsteadily as the white horses washed around his ankles.

A year after completing the Isle of Wight challenge, we catch up with David in the sun along the Dorset coast, the place where his connection with the outdoors began.

Dorset coast

“The Isle of Wight challenge was an absolute epic. I was thinking five days of beautifully calm water, sunshine and it was the complete opposite. Two times, I’m not even lying, my life was in danger. I wasn't really prepared for that.” This adventure raised money for Surfers Against Sewage, and it was completed using only environmentally friendly equipment, from circular clothing, to an electric support vehicle, food, and of course, the SUP.

David Haze paddle boarding

Ocean activism

Before this adventure, David’s portfolio of achievements was impressive: seven world records and multiple world firsts. Yet none had an environmental aspect. It’s perhaps bewildering that many adventure athletes aren’t greater advocates for the places that give them so much. David explains why he wanted activism to become part of his adventures.

“When I was up in Scotland for my first world record, I remember seeing a plastic bottle on the shore of the loch. I was thinking I bet no one has ever stepped foot in there, yet there’s a bit of plastic, human-made  waste. The more I did these adventures, the more I saw the problems, and I wanted to use my platform to highlight that we can do more to protect the environment.”

David Haze sits on a rock by the sea

David wears the Vitamin Sea t-shirt, from the Clean Seas collection

Childhood sense of adventure

As we walk along the beach, David points out fossils and reminisces on exploring nearby bays in his childhood, when his spirit for adventure started. Yet his life took some difficult turns. After losing his job as a city trader and a descent into crime, he found himself in prison wondering where it had gone wrong.

David wears the Leave No Trace t-shirt, from the Clean Seas collection

“I realised that I had lost that connection with nature and adventure, the thing I loved so much as a child. What I learn out on the water, on my paddleboard, has done so much more for me than any rehabilitation course that I’ve done in prison.” 

Much has been reported in recent years about the proven mental health benefits of spending time outdoors. Studies have shown spending time in nature reduces stress and increases self-esteem. The NHS recently conducted studies to examine the potential benefits of prescribing surfing to young people suffering from anxiety and depression.

David Haze looking out to sea standing on a rock

David wears the Vitamin Sea t-shirt, from the Clean Seas collection

“Being outdoors in the fresh air does so much for me. Just being near the sea, not even on the water, is just great for your mind. I want to encourage people to get outside, through adventuring too, to push yourself out of that comfort zone. It’s helped me live a more meaningful life. I want other people to be able to experience that.”

As we bound over the seaweed-strewn rocks, David points out the little fish darting in the rockpools. Having access to safe and clean outdoors spaces, free from waste and pollution, allows us to reconnect with the childlike sense of adventure in us all. It has the power to foster a sense of guardianship over the places we build close connections with.

“The more I surround myself with nature, the calmer I become. It’s given me so much. That’s why we need to protect these environments.”


Explore the Clean Seas collection here, with a portion of every item sold going to Marine Conservation Society to support their work in protecting the oceans from sewage pollution.

Follow David Haze @nomadicpaddler

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