Written by Alex Ortmann, ESLLC 2016-2017
Sustainability, is not typically the first word that comes to mind when discussing surfing. In fact, many not involved in the life style, would most likely never consider those two words in the same sentence. Fortunately for the rest of the world, surfers are a very committed and creative group who are already working towards making their sport and lifestyle more sustainable then it already is. Surfing is derived from the sustainable action of ocean waves which is a natural process that man cannot fully recreate. Then of course surfing also involves a surfboard. Surfboards have changed drastically throughout the years starting in the early years as big heavy wood boards, and eventually evolving to the thin lightweight polyester or epoxy surfboards of today. Polyester and epoxy have revolutionized the sport of surfing, allowing surfers to ride faster, turn harder, and all around ride waves in a more efficient and fun filled matter.
Unfortunately, these materials come with a very big impact on the earth. Both epoxy and polyester are made with a petroleum base, meaning that they are derived from fossil fuels, coming with all the same negative environmental impacts. But the ingenuity that has evolved surfing over the years, is bringing an end to the unsustainable materials traditionally used in surfboards dating back to the 1950’s. The Non for-profit, surfboard startup company Sustainable Surf is making great leaps towards creating an affordable eco-friendly surfboard. The goal of Sustainable Surf is simple, to manufacture the same high performance surfboards as other companies, minus the toxic chemicals which harm not only harm us, but the surrounding environment. The resin used is at least 25 percent bio-resin, consisting of plant extract and recycled resin. The surfboard cores are made of bio-carbon and recycled foams which dramatically reduce the carbon footprint. Some boards are made with a sustainably grown wood which also limits the amount of resin needed for a finished board, dropping the carbon footprint even lower. These sustainable innovations have attracted some of the world’s top pros, such as Kelly Salter and Rob Machdo, who are ditching the traditional poly boards, in favor of the eco-friendly sustainable surfboards. These sustainable boards are paving the way and giving insight into the surfing of the future.