In a surf shop the other day I saw a guy pull out a foam board and say, “We call these boards landfill, as they only last a few surfs”.
It got me thinking about the irony that an industry based on clean and healthy oceans, can create such damaging and wasteful products to litter the earth. Unfortunately, just like fast fashion, consumers want cheap sh*t they can have instantly that can ‘easily’ be thrown away. Surfing is a popular activity in tourist beaches, with cheap foam surfboards being a top choice, especially for backpackers (no offence I also came to Australia as one).
Traditionally surfboards were made with wood, but now they are made with polystyrene, which is a synthetic material that can take over 500 years to decompose. To be fair, I also don’t fancy carrying a pure mahogany board down to the beach, but waste is waste.
Like most industries, there are opposite ends of the spectrum. There are many hand-crafted and conscious surfboard brands, with products that are made to last. There’s also a growing demand from conscious surfers for decent boards. The ECOBOARD Project by Sustainable Surf is a perfect example of a leader in sustainable surfing, awarding certifications to high-performance board brands that have a ‘reduced carbon footprint, renewable or up-cycled materials and use low toxicity materials or processes during manufacturing.’
Below are five smart surfboard brands producing high-quality boards, that aren’t designed to end up in landfill.
A mega surfboard brand with a small carbon footprint, Spooked Kooks is the soft board supplier of dreams. The boards are made from 100% recycled post-consumer plastic waste, even the fins. The brand is also encouraging consumers to bring their boards back for discount, to be recycled again. They currently have a store in Bondi, so if you happen to be around Sydney – go check them out.
Our core mission flows through our overall approach, from looking at ways we can integrate other recycled materials and sustainable non-plastic materials into our boards, to ways we can improve our manufacturing process, packaging and products to minimise the amount of new plastic used and waste created.’
This custom surfboard brand make high-end products from locally sourced and environmentally friendly materials. Each board is made-to-order and tailored to the individual consumer, which also cuts out waste and makes it that little bit more special. To make it even better, Organic Dynamic donate 1% of all sales to Sustainable Coastlines. Clearly, they are doing something right as they just opened up a factory store in Lyall Bay, New Zealand.
NOTOX produces eco surfboards (Certified Gold Standard by The ECOBOARD project) without compromising on performance or price. The materials for products are sourced as close as possible to reduce carbon usage, whilst using organic natural or recycled materials with no toxins. Check out a full list here of how NOTOX creates smarter, greener surfboards.
A NOTOX greenOne® surfboard produce around 1kg of waste, 75% of which is recyclable, traditional surfboards generate around 6kg.’
Balsa surfboards (made from Balsawood) apparently originated from Malibu in America, with the light balsa longboards making it to the Australian surf market in the 50’s and 60’s. Balsawood is a fast-growing tree which makes a lightweight material and is native to Brazil, Bolivia and parts of Mexico.
Riley Balsa Surfboards, based in Miranda in Sydney, are focused on environmentally friendly and beautifully handcrafted boards. These boards have a much lower toxic footprint than polyurethane boards, due to the use of balsa.
Firewire is one of the leading innovators of high performance, sustainable surf gear, with 11x World Champ Kelly Slater owning 70% of the business. The brand focuses on technology and smarter materials to produce high performance, light and durable surf products with low environmental impact. Two examples include, The Slater Designs Leash made from recycled materials with an average 80% lower carbon footprint than regular leashes, and paving stones made from leftover EPS surf foam. Oh, they are also certified with The ECOBOARD project as well.
Firewire is dedicated to elevating the surfing experience through innovative design, new materials, and advanced construction methods. Every surfboard, traction pad and leash we build is designed with a single goal in mind – to improve the surfing experience as much as possible while impacting the environment as little as possible.’
So, there you have it. There’s a wide range of surf board brands out there that will last and not damage the planet, the choice is up to you!
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