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Before setting off in search of the big ones, you want to be sure you’ve packed all those little, easy-to-forget things. This post focuses on the innovative surf technologies that use wood and alternative bio-based materials for everything from fins, to leashes through to that must-have eco-friendly wax.
We are also going ‘local’ with our surf gear reviews, focusing on items produced in Europe as opposed to those sourced from across the pond or further afield.
Wax Your Board the Natural Way with Bio-based Surf Waxes
There are many brands that manufacture surf wax due to the ease of its manufacture. But a lot of waxes are made from paraffin, which is toxic for the environment. Only with natural ingredients and an almost "homemade" process can an organic wax be created. Take for example the board wax from TFC's partner brand Ula Ola, carefully crafed from all organic ingredients including beeswax, rosin, olive oil and soy oil. The Spanish brand's specialised surf wax is now available via TFC's online shop.
Butta is a brand from the UK that, as well as catering for surfers, produces wax for the sports of snowboarding and skateboarding. Treehuggerwax and Surf Organic of Australia and Matunas and Wavetribe, both of California, all offer locally sourced organic wax for surfers catching waves down under and across the pond.
Back in Europe, we also like Wax Za’m, a leading surf wax manufacturer from Munich that produces sustainable, high-performance surf wax. Their products are composed only of vegetable oils and natural resins and calcite, which means a clean footprint in the water.
Plastic-free Traction Pads that Keep You in Touch with Nature
Cork is our favourite traction pad material for its biodegradability and the fact it can be easily sourced in Europe where much of our audience is based. The brand ecoPro uses 100% Portuguese agglomerated cork for their pads, which are getting rave reviews from the surfing community. A range of ecoPro trackpads is available via The Fair Cottage online shop.
Of course, not all traction pads are made of cork. Some are made from bio-plastics like those of Bloom Foam, experts in manufacturing natural rubber based biomass materials for different purposes such as shoe soles and travel bags. They have teamed up with Firewire's ‘Slater Design’ to make pads from algae sourced from waterways at high risk of algal blooms.
Finding the Right Eco-friendly Fins
Focussing on fins, we find manufacturers like Ula Ola, a small scale outfit producing sustainable board and accessories with an eye on material sourcing and carbon footprint. Their fin range, available to purchase via The Fair Cottage online shop, includes full and high orgnaic-content varieties as well as high pressure laminated fins made with 60% craft paper. All Ula Ola's products are repairable at their workshop in Spain.
Reducing plastic waste that ends up in the ocean is another concern for surfing and our oceans. That’s exactly what the Five Oceans EcoFin project strives to address by using waste plastic from Indonesia, a country where waste management is significantly underdeveloped. Another manufacturer, Bureo makes ends by converting old fishing nets that would otherwise be left at the bottom of the ocean and severely disrupt marine habitats. Their recycling program in Chile incentivises local people to seek out and recover nets from the sea floor. So far, more than 80 tonnes of fishing nets have been collected.
Stay Connected to Your Values with Sustainable and Repairable Leashes
Following the origins of your surfing equipment is vital, as is having the right leash to make sure your board follows you! Wavetribe, who also manufacture surfboard covers made of hemp, eco-wax, pads, wooden surfboards and clothing, manufacture their leashes from recycled material derived from discarded plastic bottles.
Protect Your Surfboard and the Environment with an Eco Boardbag
To keep your sustainable surfboard in good condition, just like your skin, it is important to protect it from the sun’s harmful rays. Born out of a solo trip in the Philippines, there is MigraSurf. This unique brand produces top quality, long lasting surf bags with the aim of transporting your surfboard and gear with the most comfort and protection. The material used is developed from 100% recycled PET bottles, making the surf bags an ideal sustainable solution for active travelling.
German surfboard bag manufacturer, Palmenliebe believe in slow fashion (a production style that puts quality and ethics over globalisation and profit) and use upcycling and recycling methods in the making of their handmade, bespoke designs. All of the fabric sections that go into a bag are recycled, often bought in street markets or handpainted, to create uniquely crafted pieces.
An inspiring brand from outside of Europe is Pandan Bali, a cooperative of local families and weavers who craft native pandan leaves into surfing covers. Working directly with families whose ancestors honed the craft tradition, Pandan Bali not only supports local communities, but helps preserve local manufacturing methods as well as the environment thanks to the biodegradability of the materials used.
Last but not least, the outstanding Humble brand is manufacturing using recycled materials; leftover leather and textiles are used in both their handmade surf and casual bags.
Eco Surf Accessories Don't Call for Compromise
All of the accessories we have mentioned considerably help to reduce CO2 emissions and pollution during the production process versus non-ecological alternatives. Take non-toxic waxes or hemp-based fabrics, which are some of the most sustainable and non-pollutive surfing products around. Then there are bio-based traction pads, which are not only biodegradable, but commonly outperform their plastic based cousins, having better grip and durability.
Of course, there are lots more sustainable, high performance products out there. If you know of any interesting innovations or pioneering products that we could review or would fit with our eco-conscious online shop, we would be glad to hear from you. Please leave your feedback in the comments section, on our instagram channel or get in touch via email.