Co-Founder, Sustainable Surf
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Can you tell that this board is made from epoxy bio-resin with 70% biological content?

Can you tell that this board is made from epoxy bio-resin with 70% biological content? Photo: Sustainable Surf


The Inertia

In 2012, Sustainable Surf started The Ecoboard Project, to catalyze the transformation of surfboards into a positive example of sustainable manufacturing. This change is now happening very fast. Pro surfers like Kelly Slater and Michel Bourez are riding “ecoboards” and winning heats and contests.  Many major manufacturers are offering and selling “ecoboards”, and new surfboard foam and resins are being made from plant-based and recycled-content.

This turning point in surfboard design will be showcased at The Boardroom Show in Del Mar (CA), May 16-17, with the Sustainable Surf Best of Show, presented by Marko Foam and Entropy Resins.  Every board entered in the competition will be required to meet the Ecoboard Project Benchmark, by using at least one approved sustainable material. The level of innovation will be extremely high. If you live in the area, come see it for yourself.

We talk a lot about revolutions in surfing, so let’s put the sustainable surfboard revolution into context.

Surfboard design has undergone many revolutions. The thruster revolution in the 1980s, the shortboard revolution of the 1970s, the foam and fiberglass revolution of the 1950s, Bob Simmons’ planing hull designs in the 1940s, and the first “lightweight” hollow wooden surfboards with fins by Tom Blake in the 1930s. These advances changed the way surfers interacted with a wave and helped propel our sport into a global cultural force.

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In contrast, the pure joy and freedom of surfing has not been revolutionized since it first began thousands of years ago. The feeling of stoke is universal and the lines on the wave don’t matter. When the waves were good in ancient Hawaii, work stopped and people went surfing and had a blast – no different than today. Surfboard design revolutions have not changed anything related to the true essence of surfing itself.

In the 21st Century, the essence of surfing is undergoing a different type of revolution that will destroy the essence of surfing itself. The global destruction of surf breaks and, more importantly, the ocean is now being caused by global climate change and CO2 emissions. This will fundamentally change surfing by diminishing our ability to ride waves at all, or enjoy a healthy ocean environment. As surfers, we are all collectively responsible for causing it through our daily use of fossil fuel and energy.

Most surfers do not realize the true level of threat posed by CO2 emissions. Coral reef ecosystems will become extinct in a few decades due to ocean acidification and warming, and melting glaciers will cause sea level rise that swamps out most surf breaks with a bad case of “permanent high tide.” Forget about societal impacts of climate change… I want my kids to experience surfing over live coral reefs!

So what can surfers do about it? That’s the real question to ask, and the answer has nothing to do with politics or carbon trading schemes. What matters most is that we as individuals make a conscious decision to change our own lifestyles to reduce our carbon emissions. Worry about what you can control every day, and if enough of us do that, then we can make a difference that will change the world.

Alex Gray glassing his own ecoboard at E-Tech with Ryan Harris.

Alex Gray glassing his own ecoboard at E-Tech with Ryan Harris.

For surfers, one of the first decisions we make is what kind of boards to buy and ride. If you care about protecting the positive future of surfing, then make a conscious decision to participate in the NEXT surfboard design revolution–the modern, high-performance “ecoboard.”

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In recent years, innovative manufacturers of foam and resin have developed advanced sustainable materials that can create a high-performance surfboard with none of the drawbacks of toxic petrochemicals. These materials include plant-based resins that are non-toxic, recycled polystyrene foam blanks, algae-based blanks, sugarcane based blanks, cellulose fiberglass, and mushroom-material fins. These are being used to make “ecoboards” with 40% less lifecycle CO2 emissions, with no impact to performance.

To bring clarity to the sustainable surfboard market, Sustainable Surf created The Ecoboard Project, which is the first-ever labeling program for sustainable surfboards. Look for the “verified ECOBOARD” logo on your next surfboard, or ask your favorite shaper to join the program and build your next board with advanced sustainable materials.  

The sustainable surfboard is just the first step you can take toward protecting the future of surfing. There are many more things you can do to reduce your impact on the ocean through CO2 emissions, while also saving money and improving your quality of life.  We invite you to join us on a journey to live a “Deep Blue Life” that is an ocean-friendly lifestyle.

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