A few nights ago I watched Sylvia Earle’s Ted talk “My Wish: Protect Our Oceans.” Lets just say I got all fired up and super inspired. Quite frankly, our oceans are dying. Unfortunately, the historical practices in the surfing industry have shown it to be far from “green.” Lucky for us, it’s 2016 and there are a lot of sustainable, ocean friendly products out there.
I once read that there are over 15 million surfers in the world. That’s a lot of ocean-loving, adrenaline-pumping, strong human beings. It takes a lot of willpower and determination to learn to surf. It takes a lot of patience to sit in the ocean day after day learning how waves work, and how to read them. I would like to say we are a strong and resilient force to be reckoned with, so let’s get this eco-party started.
An easy first step in being the change you wish to see, is being a a good consumer. Here are a few of my favorite environmentally friendly surf products and the reason I love them. Do you use a cork tail pad? Hemp board bag? Bamboo fins? An upcycled surf bag? Recycled leash? Comment below and lets start a conversation well worth talking about.
1. Eco-Flex Surfboards
Eco-Flex surfboards are made from recycled foam core, a plant-based epoxy, natural fiber reinforcements and bamboo and re-purposed Fins. Eco-Flex boards last approximately twice as long as the standard issue Poly boards. This means more surfing and less squirreling coins after chucking your disposable polyurethane board to the dumpsite after 6 months. The entire construction is approximately 70% plant- based and recycled waste- stream materials. Captain Liz Clark says “I’ve watched Jake Moss fine-tune his shaping materials into what are now most certainly some of the most mindful, high-performance eco-boards on the planet. Putting these boards under my feet feels like a positive collaboration with like-minded friends and the ocean itself.” What Moss Research is doing is pretty damn amazing.
2. Eco Fins
Eco fins are the first sustainable surfboard fin based on ocean waste. It is made of recycled material. These guys have converted existing waste into a high performance fiber-reinforced composite. What these fins are made of really hits home to me. I live in a place that many can call a “surfer’s paradise.” When many think of Bali, most imagine a stunning paradise where stand up barrels are never too far away. The sad truth is that plastic is all too often found floating in the same waters that we dream to surf. Eco fins are recycled from the waste found on and around Bali’s beaches (like lids and packaging). Talk about going full-circle.
3. Pandan Bali Surf Bags
These guys aren’t only making sustainable surf bags that look super cool, but they are a leading force in keeping Ulu Watu clean. I’m not exactly sure whether to talk more about the product or the guys behind its radness. Their products are handmade in Uluwatu, Bali using native “pandan” leaves. Pandan has been cut, dried, and woven by local families for centuries. This traditional weave is an excellent alternative to modern plastics and other non-biodegradable materials. Curtis Lowe, the owner of Pandan Bali is also Project Manager for Project Clean Ulu Watu, whose vision is to turn the land and marine environment surrounding Uluwatu into a pristine World Surfing Preserve. The product is sustainable, but the project it is supporting is solid goodness. Project Clean Ulu Watu is making changes through solid and liquid waste management programs and education. To date these guys have removed about 1,500 cubic meters of trash, 3 cubic liters of waste water per day, produce 1-2 cubic meters of organic compost a month and have processed over 1,800,000 liters of waste water that otherwise would have gone into the waters of the world class wave. From all the surfers who have surfed there and will surf there, thank you.
4. Bees Knees Surf Wax
In a small modest little house in the hinterland of Byron Bay, there lives a humble man who I consider a legend. He makes organic surf wax. Most surf wax is made from petrochemical based parrafin wax, a bi-product of crude oil and the petroleum industry. This is then blended with chemical adhesives, chemical perfumes, chemical colours, and even plastisols. Yuck! These ingredients end up in our ocean and often produce rashes on the skin of those who use them. Then there are the other “organic” waxes that are soy-based. Ninety-three percent of soy in the United States is genetically modified, Monsanto supporting nastiness. Seriously! Bees Knees Surf wax is made from organic Australian beeswax, plant oils, and plant resins. Even their packaging is made from recycled waste paper. I personally use this stuff and couldn’t be more stoked about it.
5. Surfyogis Organic Sunscreen
Surfyogis Sunscreen creator, Jake MacKenzie once told me, “It’s so good you can eat it.” It’s true! This sunscreen is made with natural, clean ingredients including chocolate, beeswax, and coconut oil. It smells good. It stays on. It might be the only super thick sunscreen that doesn’t make me break out. With a team of ambassadors like environmentalists Rob Machado, Belinda Baggs, and Chris Del Moro, no matter how hard you surf, this sunscreen stays put. With a list of ingredients like that, it might actually be moisturizing your skin at the same time it is defending it. Bravo on this one!
Every pair of their shorts are crafted from eco-friendly 100 percent recycled and recyclable fabric, as well as being digitally printed in the UK using earth friendly inks. On top of that, if you return your old shorts they give you a discount on your next pair; focusing the entire product life into a perpetual 360 degree process. They don’t manufacture massive amounts, they are made in genuinely small batches. That means you can almost guarantee you won’t have a board short twin on the beach. As if the product isn’t enough to be stoked on, they continue to donate a proportion of their profits to ocean loving organizations like The Marine Conservation Society, The Eden Project, and The Wave Project.
Let’s face it, most of us drive to our local surf spots. We drive to work. We drive. Therefore, there is a massive amount of tire waste in the world, nearly 1.5 billion tires every year. Waste tires sit in stockyards, illegal dumping sites, and even rivers. In tropical countries tires can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which lead to nasty diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Nearly impossible to decompose, tires are often burned, leading to toxic oils and fumes. Indosole re-purposes these indestructible tires into the soles of some of the most durable footwear around. They are based in Indonesia, but the change they are making is spreading worldwide.