No, I’m not talking about ambitiously tripping out before a surf sesh. I’m talking about literally surfing on Ecovative Design’s new Mushroom Surfboard.
As surfers, we all share a love for the ocean. And (hopefully) it breaks your hearts to see waste littered across our beaches. Yet some of our dream surfboards are an environmental nightmare: most modern processes include shaping polyurethane foam to be encased in fiberglass, and then layered with epoxy resin — the combination cannot be recycled, nor is it biodegradable. This needs to stop. We need to take action. We need to encourage the industry’s manufacturers to go green.
And Ecovative Designs is stepping up big in response. The innovative forward-thinking company has come up with a new surfboard material that replaces traditional surfboard foam with their special mushroom material. It’s not exactly the same as your average pizza topping, but it’s pretty close. The boards are made of mycelium grown on a base of agricultural waste. The mycelium acts as natural self-assembling glue, meaning the material isn’t only natural, but it’s also strong and durable — Ecovative takes advantage by controlling the mycelium’s shapes, having it grow into desired, workable molds. The mycelium is then dried into Myco Foam, a sturdy material that is comparable to surfboard foams but meant to decompose when broken, discarded, or lost in the ocean. This effectively and significantly reduces surfing’s petro-chemical footprint.
As environmentally friendly as the boards may be, their marketability is what will determine their success. We can kind of look at these surfboards like shopping for groceries. There are just some things that most of us like better: hamburgers over soy burgers; bacon over turkey bacon; chocolate chip cookies over oatmeal raisin cookies. In the end, the latter choices are better for us, but they’re just not the same.
Hawaii’s Surfrider Foundation chairman and environmental chemist Marvin Heskett agrees that the boards are a great idea, but is skeptical of their actual performance. “I myself tried a renewable resource Balsa board from Peru and had to give it up as it just didn’t compare when it came to performance,” says Heskett. “But I think it is critical that we keep working on the best and greenest design until it comes together. I’m excited about the bio materials that essentially grow into place.”
Leading corporations such as Dell and Puma are already tight knit with Ecovative, incorporating the Mushroom Material to protect and package their goods. Dell has replaced EPE-polyethylene foam with Mushroom Packaging to protect their hard drives. Puma packs their Laird SUPs with this Mushroom Material. In response to this replacement of harmful traditional packaging, Ecovative was awarded the Dupont Diamond Award and the Greener Package Innovator of the Year Award. But just because Ecovative provides stellar packaging does not guarantee equally as satisfactory surf rides.
So what do you think? Is a shroom-board something we’ll see in the future? Or will it be the soy burgers of surfboards?