Anna Ehrgott is a girl on a mission. It’s a mission to travel the world and surf empty waves, a mission to lessen her carbon footprint and lead an eco-friendly lifestyle, and a mission to ignite a flame in others and, ultimately, save the planet.

As a professional freesurfer, Ehrgott travels the world surfing, shooting, and filming for environmentally minded brands that she works closely with. She thrives off of long trips and navigating roads less traveled (and waves less surfed).

Morning glides on the central coast of California. Photo: Courtesy of Russell Holliday (@russell_holliday)

In addition to surfing, Ehrgott takes part in environmental initiatives and projects whenever possible. Ehrgott recognizes the power of one and (through social media and her actions), she hopes to inspire others to lead a more eco-conscious lifestyle. Here, the environmental activist shares what fuels her passion for sustainability, ways to lead a more eco-friendly existence, and her plans moving forward.

What sparked your passion for sustainability?

There’s never been a change of heart moment for me. I’ve always felt strongly to live by my morals – I think this is where I’m a realist and not the dreamer I normally am. It’s night and day.

If I can’t bring myself to kill a cow every time I have a craving for protein then who am I to pay someone else to do my dirty work? If I can’t live with clear cutting forests firsthand, then why am I supporting industrial agriculture? If I don’t like seeing plastic floating around the ocean, then why am I buying items in plastic packaging?

It just takes caring and doing a little bit of research; I don’t like to brush things under the rug. This is the tipping point of total environmental collapse. We’ve induced a mass extinction and I’d be damned if I didn’t improve the way I live to exist in a way that supports the planet that I want to pass down to the next generations. 

Through social media and her actions, Ehrgott hopes her voice inspires change for good. Photo: Courtesy of Alec McKean (@amongthepine)

What are some things you personally do to live an eco-friendly lifestyle?

Buy in bulk or buy fresh items that don’t come in plastic packaging, cut down on animal products, eat and support locally grown/made items, distance myself from hyper-consumerism, think before buying, carry a reusable water bottle, and carpool or commute by bike when possible.

As surfers, why do you think it’s so important to be aware of the impact we have on our planet?

We are lucky enough to see firsthand the impacts of humans on the planet. We see the plastic, the pollution, and the bleaching reefs – it’s not all hearsay for us. The tangibility of it all is a huge shove for us to individually improve our impact. As much as we can notice the decline in ocean health, we can also see the improvement as laws are passed and plastic items are banned.

Surfers have the opportunity to experience firsthand the impact people have on the planet. Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Lee (@hisarahlee)

You often receive criticism for being an environmental activist but traveling a lot. What do you say to that?

I listen. It’s definitely gotten to me and it’s totally accurate. I could brush it off and convince myself “those planes would be in the air anyway,” but that’s not putting my money where my mouth is. I’ve significantly reduced my travel and I’ve started to pursue trips closer to home.

Last year, when it was really eating away at me, I gave up my car and relied solely on my bicycle for several months to mitigate the impact of how much I fly. I still try to drive less; now I need to figure out a way to fly less while still getting to do what I love (and am paid) to do. I haven’t found the perfect solution, but I’m striving to do better.

Tell us about your company Sagebrush Boardbags.

I make surfboard day bags out of entirely recycled materials. It’s expanded over the five years since it all began. Initially, I had gotten a new board and wanted a board bag to keep it in my car. I noticed how thin board socks were and how susceptible they were to tearing and falling apart. I wanted something one step up and made to last a lot longer.

I had some sewing experience and decided to try my luck and make one for myself. It worked great and a few friends asked for similar designs and it all grew from there. It blows my mind and there are few things I’m more grateful for than this opportunity to be creative and get to connect with the surfing community.

Rain, sleet, or snow, Ergott will go to extremes to surf empty waves. Photo: Courtesy of James Joiner (@jjamesjoiner)

What are some steps you suggest people take to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle?

Starting small. Just making adjustments in our daily lives add up. Reducing our plastic and animal product consumption are the two big ones that really don’t take a lot of effort.

We’re just 1 in 7.5 billion, I get that. But if you’re reading this on a screen, chances are you’re in one of the more developed places on the planet and you use more resources than the average person. It also probably means you have more disposable income than someone who makes $2 a day farming or working tirelessly in a factory. As long as we treat everything with respect, it all comes down to common sense.

What’s on the agenda looking forward?

I want to continue to plan and execute my own trips. I love small crews, curious destinations and expedition style surf adventures. I want to incorporate more bikes, through hiking and waves that lack easy accessibility.

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