The times they are a changing, but still there's a lot more the surf industry can do. We look at some of the brands that are using their creativity and upcycling to create awesome products.
There are pockets of the surf industry that are applying upcycling processes, and putting creative reuse into place.
There’s no denying it, the surfing world is generally a fairly toxic one. Some estimate that there are about 400,000 surfboards made each year from toxic foams and synthetic resins. There are others who estimate closer to 750,000 surfboards a year. A surfboard weighs in at about 5,5 pounds, and this translates to about 600 pounds of CO2e during a lifecycle of manufacture, repair and disposal, according to Surfscience.
Ninety-five percent of all surf wax blocks sold worldwide contains petrochemical additives, solidifying chemicals, high-strength bleach, and paraffin. Wetsuits are made with toxic chemicals, including PVC, the most toxic plastic for our health and environment. Wetsuits are also made with neoprene, a synthetic rubber produced from petroleum products. Sunscreens are no good either. It has been proved that oxybenzone and octinoxate - two of the most common ingredients in chemical sunscreens - decrease corals' defenses against bleaching. Let’s not forget that sodas, alcoholic and energy drinks and diesel-powered cars sponsor pro surfing. When it comes to fins and fin systems, the majority of fins and fin plugs are made from polyester resin and fiberglass or petroleum based plastic. Yet there are corners pushing back, and doing what they can to stem the tide of toxicity and pollution. Patagonia produce neoprene free wetsuits, by introducing hevea rubber, and all their rubber now comes from sources that are Forest Stewardship Council® certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Patagonia Rubber
Surf Yogis make natural zinc sunscreen; so natural you can eat it, apparently. They use a combination of cacao, coconut, beeswax, vanilla bean, coffee extract, castor oil and zinc oxide to produce their well-tested and proven zinc. Musician and former pro surfer Jack Johnson recently received a surfboard made out of 10,000 cigarette butts, as part of the solution. A couple years ago, for Vissla’s 2017 Creators & Innovators Upcycle Contest, San Jose State University grad Taylor Lane submitted a board made from over 10,000 discarded cigarette butts found along the California coastline. He won the contest, and recently made another surfboard, from another 10,000 ciggy butts for Jack Johnson to surf. More of a novelty, the fact that there were 10,000 cigarette butts on the beach is pretty repulsive. The results of the board test can be seen below. Ciggy Board As part of the solution, there is also [Sustainable Surf] (https://sustainablesurf.org/), a non-profit organization in California that challenges the modern paradigm of the surf industry to be more aware of their products and manufacturing processes and has a grading system for environmentally friendly eco-boards. Firewire, Channel Islands, Lost and Stretch all adhere to the Eco-board verification processes. [Shaka Surf] (https://shaka-surf.com/) is an eco-friendly fin producing company based in Portugal. They make fins from recycled bottle caps, with their 9" eco single fin using approximately 70 plastic caps in production.
“We came up with the idea of creating eco surf fins from recycled waste materials and plastics after coming in from a surf and seeing so much waste on the beach,” said Shaka Surf founder Dominick Taylor. “We made a pledge to put this rubbish to good use.”
Here is Shaka Surf’s mission statement, in essence. • To help our oceans and reduce the amount of plastics that end up washed up on our beaches in Europe and further afield. To use this waste and repurpose it into something that has great utility: a surfboard fin. • To participate in wide community led initiatives such as beach cleanups, training, seminars, and educate people on ocean environmental issues. To share the stoke by producing highly functional products of great quality and design. Their hero product is the Eco single fin, in 7” or 9” models. They are suitable for longboards, SUP, single fin or home decoration. Each fin is custom made, and it includes screw and metal plate for securing.
Keeping things funky, the boys at Shaka Surf wanted an edge and went out to find someone to give them an edge. It came from amazing street graffiti artist Vasco Maio to give these eco and sustainable fins a very distinctive look. Vasco takes his inspiration from nature and what could reflect this better than the manifestation of the force of Mother Nature a.k.a swell lines.
As we all face engulfment by an ocean of plastic, and as our beaches lose the fight against pollution, Shaka Surf are doing the right thing, and fighting against plastic litter, just like we all should be doing. We as surfers and eco warriors should either be in the game producing eco products, or at least supporting these people, like Patagonia, Surf Yogis and Shaka Surf.
The more people that buy eco-friendly and more sustainably produced products will lead the way for change in the mainstream. This has slowly happened with wetsuits and we predict it will happen with accessories such as surf fins, and will extend further into the surf industry in the future.