Imagine this. A major storm is spinning its wheels off the coast of your local break. You check the forecast. Tomorrow the wind will be howling offshore, and the surf will be pumping. You can hardly sleep. In the early hours of the morning, you brew yourself a cup of coffee, pack up the car, and head to the beach. The forecast was right! It’s perfect. You suit up and you’re out there. First wave your exhilaration gets the best of you. You mistime the drop and the lip guillotines your board right in the middle. Session over. Board broken.
The disappointment of a session cut short by a broken board is often punctuated by no other option than to throw its remnants in the closest trash receptacle. Being that surfboards are made from some pretty toxic materials, another broken board in a landfill somewhere doesn’t bode well for Mother Earth. If you’re the sadistic type who gets some form of fleeting satisfaction from seeking revenge on Mother Earth for breaking your board in the first place, a trash can may be the best place for a broken board. For everyone else, here are a few other options:
1. Re-shape into a new board or a handplane
Sure this requires a little creativity, ingenuity, tools, and materials, but think about it this way: even if you make something that goes terribly it’s better than it ending up in a landfill. If there’s enough foam after the break you can reshape your board into a new one. If not, maybe a kneeboard, handplane, or paipo?
2. Donate to Enjoy Handplanes
For those of us that lack the dexterity to shape something of our own, consider donating to Enjoy handplanes. They’re a company out of San Diego that takes broken surfboards and wetsuits and recycles them creating, you guessed it, handplanes. To minimize their environmental impact, each handplane is glassed with Entropy Bio Epoxy resin. An added bonus if you donate a board is you get $20 off your purchase.
3. Make some art
A few folks are doing some really interesting things with old unwanted boards. There are guys like Walter Blair Tom making boards into totem poles in the style of those across the Pacific Northwest. Or Jimmy Romo doing some pretty interesting stuff as seen here:
Use your imagination!
Rerip takes your old and broken boards and either repairs them to give to organizations, schools, or groms who will use them, gives them to local artists, or experiments with downcycling putting broken boards into concrete for non-structural uses, like patios and parking stoppers.
5. What about foamies?
Currently our friends at Sustainable Surf and INT are working on it. They piloted a foamie recycling drive at the recent Del Mar Boardroom show. They’re working through the complexities of recycling foamies, but told us, “One day we’re sure all surfboards, especially foamies, will be able to be recycled into new boards and other products.”
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that choosing a more sustainable surfboard in the first place can also help to lessen your quiver’s impact on the environment (for tips on that, click here), and that many companies are developing incredibly innovative materials to one day have entirely recyclable and/or compostable surfboards that maintain the performance qualities of traditional PU surfboards. That future ain’t too far off.