Dan Pingaro, Sailors for the Sea


Blessed with sea legs, surfer, swimmer and sailboat racer Dan Pingaro makes another nice fit into this month?s round of Blue August-inspired Change Makers.

As the CEO of Sailors for the Sea , the big blue certainly keeps Dan busy. The Boston-based non-profit organization uses outlets like media (they recently released a documentary called A Sea Change about ocean acidification) and sailing expeditions to educate, motivate, and empower the boating community to help protect and restore our oceans and coastal water.

But Sailors of the Sea hasn't been Dan's only splash into ocean and sea-related sustainability work. He made his rounds in San Francisco at the US Environmental Protection Agency US Environmental Protection Agency, helping develop support for the West Coast Governors? Ocean Health Action Plan, got a Presidential nod for his work on the Bolsa Chica Wetlands restoration project in Southern California and made a foray into the world of sea-faring fashion, founding a sail-friendly clothing company called CLEWWEAR.

After diving deeper into Dan's experience, we learned just how possible it is to create more positive waves than one when it comes to creating healthy, biodiverse oceans.

How did you get into this line of work?

I traveled a fairly conventional route from education and summer ocean lifeguarding, to entry level environmental planner position with a federally recognized Tribe. From there I worked at USEPA, founded my own company and volunteered on the board of directors for the Marine Science Institute, along with some consulting for a clean tech investment advisory firm. All of my work experience plus my lifelong sailing and surfing background came together here at Sailors for the Sea.

What was your "a-ha" moment?

As a young boy, I often watched the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. Then one day, I saw some locals bring in a dead hammerhead shark they had caught offshore. The shark was trussed across the transom of their powerboat as a trophy. Pictures were taken and then the shark's jaws were ripped out as a trophy. It was pretty upsetting and no way to treat such a beautiful fish.

Who is your green hero?

I have been inspired by Jacques Cousteau, Edward Abbey and Tom Pratte. Everyday people doing planet positive acts both big and small that create positive change for the environment are my heroes.

What is your ultimate green goal?

A clean, blue ocean full of diversity.

What is your motivation?

To leave the planet a better place for the next generation.

What is most important to you, ecologically speaking?

That we, as a society, do not continue to destroy and degrade the planet. I hope, and believe, we can begin to live within the bounds of nature while maintaining biodiversity on this blue planet.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Like many people, finding a balance between work and having a few moments to decompress. Since I enjoy sailing and surfing work comes full circle for me.

What is the most rewarding?

Hearing from Sailors for the Sea program participants and young children who seem to have a pure, raw sense of environmental action and stewardship.

Of the people you have worked with, who impresses you most?

There are many impressive people I work and collaborate with. However, my dog Tiller is great. He is loyal, fun and believes all my ideas are great, especially any ideas involving walks.

What green thing do you do everyday?

I have been a vegetarian for 20 years and walk to work as often as possible.

What do you wish you could do?

Sail to the [url='http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/11/climate_refugee.php']Maldives, jump overboard with my surfboard and surf beautiful waves without ever touching land. Unfortunately, with rising sea levels there may be no land left in the Maldives.

What is your biggest eco-sin?

The 12 year old pick-up truck that my wife and I share. It is our only vehicle.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Create a culture of understanding and respect for the animals and ecosystems of the planet.

What is your best green advice?

For each person to do what they believe they can to help the planet and then do a little more. For each person to continually challenge themselves to lessen their impact on the planet, build awareness of environmental/social issues and create a linkage from knowledge to action. Positive planet acts is where it's at.

Change Makers is a series of interviews with people famous and obscure who are creating a more sustainable world through their work. Meet more Change Makers here.

Read more about protecting oceans with Blue August

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