On today’s Empowerful Podcast, Dave McCoy discusses why he decided to make his fly fishing retail store and guide service carbon neutral and join 1% for the Planet.
Through the process, they were able to offset half of the carbon footprint in their local Washington county, and became the first fly fishing company in the world to do so! As Dave says, “how we spend our dollars can be as or more important than our actual vote.” Tune in to listen to this conversation with MiiR’s cofounders, and read Dave’s blog to learn more.
A couple years ago an article was written in one of our industry publications titled, “Fly Fishing Ruins Lives.” Now while I didn’t pen this piece, the opening image was a scanned version of a photo from 1972 featuring yours truly. I was 2 ½ years old in the image, fly fishing a lake in central Oregon’s Cascade Mountains.
Nearly 50 years later, I am a photographer, fly fishing guide, owner of a fly fishing store, guide service and global travel business in West Seattle with 15 employees so be thoughtful what you introduce your children too!
My business relies not heavily but entirely on our natural resources. Clean water, abundant forests, pristine wilderness, public access and sustainable fish populations are essential to our survival and more importantly to the message we impart to our clients while enjoying these resources together.
When I began guiding 25+ years ago, this job was a novelty in the outdoor world. Taking people fly fishing for top dollar on namesake fisheries around the country was unique. At that time, most of the places I cut my teeth professionally were relatively undiscovered and therefore competition was minimal and space on the water was abundant.
This is no longer the case. We have experienced an explosive increase in the number of guides, guide services and public angling and the signs of this increased pressure, are to me, starkly visible against what once was and has made me think hard about our impact and how to reduce it while remaining a viable business.
Over the past 15 years I have traveled far and wide, 48 countries in that time while toting camera and fly rod. The camera provides the opportunity to quietly peel off from fishing and absorb raw, candid moments in these incredible places. For better or worse, I see each locale for what its current state really is. The common thread here is while I am not living day to day in these places, a return after 5-10 years illuminates the changes they have endured and they often resemble what I am witness to at home.
About 10 years ago I was handed a book. I wasn’t even halfway through “Let My People Go Surfing” before I recognized the need for me to pivot both personally and professionally. It was akin to watching my child be born, my optic on life was dramatically altered from then on.
On a personal level I swiftly made little changes that at first seem frivolous. Reusable coffee cup and water bottle, bamboo spork in my wallet, when possible not buying things packed in plastic, carpooling for guide trips, reusable grocery bags, buying local as often as possible, bought a used vehicle which will soon be replaced by an electric one which will be my first new car since 1990.
I figured in a year I consume 3 coffee’s a day about 300 days of the year, give or take. By myself, globally, this means nothing but if through my role at our store, as a brand ambassador, father and photographer I can message this to more people to begin taking similar steps, this is how we collectively affect change. And we need to do so.
So this past year during the pandemic, with the help of many people I decided to make my business carbon neutral and were able to offset half of our carbon footprint right here in King County, as close to where we do most of our business as possible and the remainder in Alaska. We also joined 1 Percent for the Planet and are reimaging our product mix in the store to better represent our mission. We want to show it is possible to be hyper focused on the environment while remaining viable in commerce and influencing consumer spending to support this goal.
We are looking for which companies are making efforts to reduce waste in the production process, are spending dollars on conservation, assessing their supply chain in order to reduce carbon emissions and are the tip of the spear in creating consumable products from recycled, upcycled or bio-degradable materials. Choosing which companies we work with by how in stride our business ethos are means we can magnify our mutual reduced impact.
While we were the first store in our industry to be carbon neutral and we did so to reduce our impact we also did so in hope of inspiring others to follow. We want to be transparent on how easy this is to do. As businesses and people who enjoy our public lands, it is our responsibility to act as conscionably as possible in preserving them for future generations to play in as we do now.
Regardless of whether you travel near or far, fly fish, or not, photograph professionally or because it scratches an all-important itch of creativity to explore your wonder, there is little doubt in the value the outdoors on our health. So grab a reusable water bottle, ride your bike to work or the store, have a lunch with food from the farmers market and see if there is a way to be a little less impactful while enjoying and living your life.
A cliché I have clung tightly to for most of my life with thanks to my father, “Take only pictures and leave only footprints.” has never been more relevant than now.