This is something that I ask myself on a fairly infrequent basis, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about more in the last couple of years. It’s only when our wetsuits tears or shrinks, or we realise that our 3/2 just won’t cut it in colder waters during Winter, that we start thinking about our next purchase. Often we just go for whatever is easiest and perhaps been recommended to us by friends. The only problem is that most of the leading brands are still using Neoprene in their wetsuit manufacturer. This is a big problem if you’re ecological minded.
Is Neoprene Biodegradable?
Nope, no way, absolutely not. The chances are that the neoprene that makes up most, if not all your wetsuit will end up in landfill at some point. Take a moment to think about the scale of wastage that causes and let’s do some basic math.
Let’s take the ridiculously high estimate that there are 35 million surfers in the world (according to Ponting and O’Brien) and let’s half this number straight away to account for regular surfers, and est. at it at 17.5 mi. Approx. 85% of them will need a wetsuit at some point during the year, so that’s 14.875 mil. Wetsuits right there. This is only assuming that each person has one wetsuit each, and of course we know that for many surfers in colder waters (Northern Europe, East Coast, South America, NoCal etc..) will need more than just the one type of wetsuit in their wardrobe.
So if we assume about 40% will have 2 wetsuits then this increases the number of wetsuits to approximately 20,825,000. Now let’s say a very conservative ⅓ of all those wetsuits will end up in landfill that’s still 6.8 million wetsuits every two years (which is how often the average surfer replaces their wetsuits). At this point it’s also worth pointing out that surfing makes up a small percentage of water sports, the number is probably a lot great when you consider scuba diving, spearfishing, windsurfing, kitesurfing etc. Carvemag have in fact estimated that 380 tonnes of non-biodegradable chemical waste ends up each and every year.
Buying a ‘green’ wetsuit
The good news is that you shouldn’t to search too far and wide to buy a more eco friendly wetsuit. Already, well established brands such as Patagonia have lots of different sustainably produced wetsuits to choose from, for both guys and girls. Often their wetsuits come at a restrictive price point for those on a tight budget. They use Yulex neoprene for many of their wetsuits which means the material comprises of a natural based rubber rather than petrochemicals/oil. Their wetsuits provide great warmth, comfort and stretch and many of my friends are glad they made the investment as their wetsuits are known to last for longer than many of the competitors.
Lower Budgets catered for
The good news is that you don’t need to spend $500 – $700 on a wetsuit, there are some relatively newer companies that offer ‘green’ wetsuits at a lower. If you don’t mind paying a bit extra for shipping, France has a few companies that are looking to alternative materials and bio-based alternatives to Neoprene that are fast establishing themselves in the market. Picture Organic and Soöruz, for example that are trying as hard as possible to cut out all neoprene from their wetsuits. The former has a First Stretch wetsuit made from primarily NaturalPrene, with 15% made up of chlorine free rubber. Their wetsuits come in at a more palatable price of around $300 – $400. Then of course, there’s Vissla which are capturing more of the mainstream market thanks to their marketing efforts and provide wetsuits in the price range between Patagonia and the aforementioned French brands.
Some people may want to consider a limestone-based neoprene for their wetsuit. Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed of Calcium carbonate. It is often found in marine environments e.g coral, algae, fecal debris that settles on the ocean floor and is compressed by oceanic currents/movements over time. However like petroleum it is energy intensive in its extraction, transportation and transformation into a usable material. It is also a non-renewable mined from the earth. Matuse in California have been using limestone-neoprene but are looking for more sustainable materials for wetsuit production.
As more experimentation with materials, expect more players to enter the sustainable wetsuit market, although at the moment it appears that the major players such as Quiksilver, Rip Curl and Billabong are yet to change their manufacturing process as they chase profits over sustainability.
So, next time your due for a new wetsuit take a moment to think about buying a ‘green’ wetsuit even if it may cost a bit more. You’ll be doing your bit and chances are you’ll save more in the long run as the wettie will last longer.
Or Not…The Choice is Yours. But if you’re after some great advice on how to repair creases / a buckled surfboard, watching this video is highly recommended.
Me personally, if it’s a small repair I usually do myself, but something where I’m not confident I have the necessary skills and equipment I’ll always hand over to a professional. After, all if it’s one of your favorite board’s and you want to get some more use out of it for the other swells, you don’t want to fu** it up. It’s good to see pro’s like Joe Roper also being thrifty with what they have and recycling whenever possible.
We’re stoked to announce some new products that have just been added this week on the site. We have been working hard the last few months to bring these 100% recycled swell lines fins exclusively to Shaka Surf. These fins have been designed and developed in Europe and we have teamed up with the 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.
These fins earn their eco credentials as they are made from 100% recyclable and reusable materials. Available as: blue single fins, purple single fins and orange single fins for the 7″ and 9″ single fins. We also have released a limited batch of G5 Medium fins in blue for shortboards.
Use them in your setup, or to decorate the home, the choice is yours. But don’t miss out on these bad boys!
Often as surfers are minds can be fixated on waves, that sometimes we forget to slip, slap, slop. I’m sure we’ve all been there, rushing to get ready and out into the lineup as quick as possible that we forget to put on sunscreen. Melanoma is a serious business after all, and getting sunburnt is never fun. If like me, you natural skin color is on the pale side anyway, it’s best to go with higher SPF factors such as 30+ or 50+ depending on where you are in the world and how strong the sun is.
I have been lucky enough to surf in some amazing hot and exotic countries, but countries were the sun is so much stronger than back home. I always make sure I pack enough sun protection for the trip, as you never know when you might be caught short for instance in more remote places or where basic necessities such as suncream might come at a higher price point because of greed or import cost.
Like many surfers, I’ve also tried the usual brands of suncream protection and zinc sticks. Remember that SPF is a guide, so if your usually burn in 10 minutes without sun protection it’s best to go for a higher rating such as SPF 30+ which will offer 300 minutes protection. But, keep in mind it degrades the moment you put it on your skin, so this should be used as a general guide. Also, is the surf is pumping you’re not gonna be going in and out of the water every 1hr to reapply, so with this in mind always go for a much higher level of protection and ideally choose a product designed and tested by surfers for surfers.
Whilst, often these may be the most convenient to buy they are not aways the best for your skin. Many suncreams actually contain chemical filters such as oxybenzone, homosalate and titanium dioxide. So what’s the problem you’re problem asking yourself? Well the problem is that many of these chemicals that are typical in cosmetic products such as the aforementioned oxybenzone have a very high toxicity rating. Despite its function to protect our skin from harmful UV rays, when we apply it sunscreen oxybenzone actually gets absorbed into our skin and stays in our body for an unknown period of time.
That’s pretty alarming. After all we’ve been buying these products for most of our lives and going out in the sun on the assumption that not only will the sunscreen protect us, but be free from toxic chemicals that will be absorbed by our skin. Shouldn’t these sunscreens be more closely scrutinized by industry regulators before being allowed to be stocked on shelves?
Unfortunately, until regulations change these big pharmaceuticals are still going to carry on producing sunscreens with oxybenzone in them in. That’s why it’s essential to always check the label on what you’re buying. If you’re not satisfied the sunscreen is free from parabens and toxic chemicals DON”T BUY IT! There are alternatives, such as our natural organic sunscreen which is a non-nano zinc oxide that is free from parabens and offer SPF 45+.
Thankfully, there is a positive moment towards change in sunscreens, and more companies are starting to produce non-toxic sunscreens. Hopefully, this growing awareness will put pressure on the big boys to buck their ideas up and start removing chemicals like oxybenzone from their sunscreens.
I have a hope for the future that one day surfers will be able to go into a board shop and there’ll be a good assortment of wooden boards on offer, that don’t sacrifice on performance, and come in at a good price point for the consumer. There’s others that share my vision of the future, and one of them is a Finnish shaper Elvis, who owns Romu Shapes (boards which are solely made from sustainable and natural materials). I caught up with him to discuss how he got started making wooden boards and recycled fins and his views on the future of surfboard building.
Dom: So it’s been a while since we last spoke, let’s start off by talking about what you’ve been up to in the last 3 years….
Elivs: Yes, I think it’s been about that. Well, shortly after you left Zarautz, I headed back to Helsinki, Finland to continue working on my designs, and to work full-time as a carpenter so I can save money to move to Portugal. Ida and I have bought a house there and are planning to renovate, open up a workshop and bring Romu shapes over. We are going to reduce our impact on the environment, by using solar polar for electricity and recycle the rain water. And I’m still shaping, fulfilling orders and constantly researching and trying new things trying to find the ‘secret recipe’.
Dom: That sounds awesome. Can’t wait to come and visit you guys when it’s all ready. I was wondering when you first started shaping, what were your main influences and sources of knowledge.
Elvis: An internet forum called Swaylock. It’s a board building forum and there were plenty of more experienced shapers on there willing to give advice and pointers. Everything you wanted to know about board building could be answered here. Moreover, I found the community to be very helpful and supportive. I would post questions, and someone would get pack to me pretty quickly. I then tested different types of surfboard designs from the information I learned and looked for feedback form the community.
Dom: Do you still go on the forum?
Elvis: These days certainly less questions, but once in a while I’ll go back…see if I can help others. These days you can learn pretty much learn anything you want to from the Internet, from YouTube videos etc. So, Swaylock definitely facilitated a lot of my learning in the early stages.
Dom: Do you think mainstream shapers will ever move away from toxic chemicals. If so what will take for this shift to happen?
Elvis: It seems as though people are really interested in eco stuff, but nobody is really doing a lot. Most people would choose the greener option if it didn’t compromise performance. At the moment, people aren’t ready to sacrifice the high performance that PU and epoxy boards give. The market doesn’t give you anything for free, it has to be a good price and good quality. Otherwise the change won’t came.
There’s certainly a bigger effort now to improve space grade materials and make new developments. You have to process the plant to get the high-quality space material, but before there was no interest. Things are changing slowly and in ten years I think there will be new materials available, but we’ll have to wait until then.
Dom: How has your home country and environment influence the kinds of boards you’re making?
Elvis: Wood is a very traditional medium in Finland, it dates back centuries. Since a kid, I’ve had an understanding of the grain and our nautical history. Say, a 100 years ago in Finland if you were building a house and you messed up, you were going to freeze to death. So, it’s really important to do things with 100% focus, care and attention.
The Japanese style of craftsmanship has influenced me a lot, so I always try and have this in mind when I’m shaping. ‘Romu’ actually comes from the Finnish word meaning wreck and I guess you could say I was never satisfied with the first few boards I began making.
Dom: Any advice for people looking to start making sustainable boards or just shaping in general?
Elvis: Always look forward and just do it. Eco surf board building is a new thing, and it’s hard to predict the future. Even if you fail many times, it’s your own thing and will give you endless enjoyment. I love it and can’t see myself doing anything else. It’s like taking a steep drop, you know if you make it, you’ll feel stoked.
Dom: Lastly, how would someone go about ordering a board from you
Elvis: Visit romushapes.com and contact me via the site.
The use of technology in modern surfboard manufacturer is extremely prevalent. CNC Machines are often used by many surfboard manufacturers to ensure production volumes are met from demand. Often these machines are used to produce epoxy or Polyurethane (PU) surfboards. However, they can be used to produce wooden surfboards as well. Given that the average wooden surfboard would take between 40 and 60 hours to finish. Using a CNC machine can reduce the labour intensive job.
To see a CNC machine in action check out the below:
Would you consider buying a CNC made wooden surfboard? Let us know in the comments.
This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but always suffered from classic surfer procrastination. A great idea for making surfboard fins was first introduced to me, by Elvis, and if you haven’t read the interview with him make sure you check it out here.
When we spoke about board making, I remembered from his Instagram that he had been making recycled fins from old broken skateboard decks. This got the wheels in my head turning, and started thinking how hard this would be to do myself. The timing of losing a very nice glide fin I bought in Australia, seemed serendipitous.
First step is to get the raw materials. Go to your local skatepark and check nearby dumpsters. If you don’t find any broken decks, try a few skateshops and see if they can help. Once you’ve got enough to shape a couple of fins, head to your workshop.
Then you want to cut the wood to the template of your fin. You can use any fin and just trace the outline if you’re lacking confidence in templating. From here, your foiling begins. Now, most people start from base to tip with their foiling, but do whatever suits you best.
Start by creating bands the same as rail bands on surfboards using 1/8 increments on the trailing edge and 1/4 increments on the leading edge. The aim here to foil almost a triangle pattern. Once you’ve finished the foiling, take some sandpaper to round of the edges. Then use a jitterbug to get everything smooth. Failing this you could use a palm sander dremmel or just a regular angle grinder.
Then you should be ready to laminate your fins and tack them onto the board. You’ll find that making perfect symmetrical fins is pretty darn hard, and first couple of times probably won’t go to plan. But, the more you try the better your fins will turn out.
Making your own wooden fins from recycled materials such as old skateboard decks helps is not only extremely rewarding but also helps transform discarded junk into useful things again.
As surfers we take exceptional risks, and I’m not talking about the obvious ones in the ocean. We spend time, money and a lot of effort to find waves sometimes at the detriment to what’s going on in our personal and professional lives.
Sometimes we just need that escape. Sometimes days/weeks and even months can pass before we find what we’re after that perfect uncrowded wave that we’ve been dreaming of. One thing that strikes fear into the heart of any traveling surfer after spending hours of research, planning routes, checking forecasts, studying maps and getting ‘skanked’. There’s nothing worse than spending all that effort only to rock up to the beach and find its flat. Spirits can sink further if it turns out to be a run of flat days. Then we have to look for other things to entertain ourselves.
Childish antics or keep the brain active?
For some surfers that might mean getting up to some mischief. Just watch any ‘Who Is J.O.B.’episode to get what I mean by that. If bullying one of your mates to doing stupid and acting like big kids isn’t your bag (which for most of us maturer surfers isn’t) then something more cerebral might be the order of the day.
A pack of playing cards should always be bought along, especially for those rainy days to pass the time. Books, board games and footballs are also sure fire winners to keep everyone sane on the trip. Other essential items to bring should include a coffee travel tumbler, sunscreen, first aid kit and mosquito net if you’re going somewhere tropical.
It’s always a good idea to assume that you won’t have access to the Internet for those remote trips, so don’t rely on smartphones. Even if there’s internet access, sometimes it’s a good idea to have a bit of a detox. I’ve made a point of doing this for my last few trips and it’s really made a difference. There’s less anxiety and my general wellbeing is the best it’s ever been.
We’re now half way through Summer in the Northern hemisphere, and for a lot of us we can see days if not weeks of flat spells. How do you cope with these periods? Let us know in the comments.
These days it’s pretty easy to find inspiration from the net, to emulate your favourite celebrity or surfer. Instagram, for example, can be great in this area as all you have to do is to search by hash tags and start getting some ideas of what your favourite celeb or surfer is currently wearing.
Before, celebrities and surfers, would often endorse clothing and products and not declare that is was an endorsed product. However, Instagram has released a new feature last year so that when they promote a product a label will show up saying that its an endorsed product.
Getting the inspriation – Reliable sources
We find that there are some great trusted sources for getting some fashion inspiration to start dressing like your favourite celebrities and surfers. Inspirational fashion websites such as Etsy and Pinterest are the perfect choice when it comes to design ideas.
Watches are one such accessory that it’s pretty easy to pinpoint where our favorite celebs or surfers are getting their timepieces from. Often they will hashtag the brand, as they’re getting paid to endorse the product. New features such as shop the look apps, also help people to buy lesser known watches such as rising trends such as Bewell watches.
Some of our favourite surfers are obviously contractually obliged to wear their sponsor’s products. Following them on Instagram can reveal the brands upcoming collections, as often the surfers will get first dibs on new season’s products. This is great to get a feel for upcoming fashion trends and also with Instagram new clickable product shopping features, we can now grab the item instantly! A few brands are capitalising on these features, however many are still just placing a link to their online store in their bio.
Before, the age of online shopping it was sometimes quite hard to find the exact clothing and accessories your favourite celebrities or surfers were wearing. For instance, I’ve always wanted to buy the leather bracelets worn by Johnny Depp in a lot of his movies, but I’ve struggled to find these in the retail stores.