It is an often discussed topic, but what really is an eco-surfboard and what are the standards it should meet in order to be considered a truly eco-friendly or sustainable surfboard? Do the eco-options out there actually respond to the performance demands of the market?
In The Beginning…
The first polynesian surfboards were made entirely of wood. A tree was felled, a board shaped from the timber and then it was ready to ride the waves. Since then, the sport has evolved tremendously. Most boards now contain very little wood, if any, are engineered rather than crafted and have a brand logo emblazoned onto their design.
The materials from which surfboards are manufactured have also evolved. Though, not to pay homage to the God of waves as the first surfers once did, but rather to fulfill the technical requirements of competitions, like weight, aerodynamics and resistance.
At some point during the push towards ultra-high performance, we lost our way. We overlooked the impact of the resources we use, the potential to harm nature and the importance of revering the very creator of the waves we crave - the sea. But, after despair comes hope. At The Fair Cottage we really believe, with the current progress of green technology, surfboards can be made with the same technical qualities as before, from ecological and sustainable materials that respect the environment instead of harming it.
How The ECOBOARD Project Is Driving Change
Sustainablesurf.org’s brainchild, The ECOBOARD Project, encourages the research and development of sustainable surfing through accreditation of on-board brands, helping to wipe out the myth that conventional boards perform better than their eco-innovated rivals.
The project not only award brands for creating sustainable surfboards, but provides a framework for how to achieve ECOBOARD accreditation. Looking closely at the framework and focussing on the material requirements, we notice there is a long list of minimum standards to consider before starting the design process. The purpose and essence of which is to reduce the chemical and carbon impact on the environment through the use of recycled, renewable and upcycled materials, plant based resins and techniques that significantly reduce the toxicity of the manufacturing processes.
The ECOBOARD programme suggests a list of qualified materials and criteria for potential new materials, the use of which can make a shaper’s creation a sustainable artform that warrants the ECOBOARD sticker. A board may be awarded the level 1 or gold level sticker, depending on the proportion of qualified materials used, if the manufacturer is also accredited by the programme or if there are manufacturing techniques developed and applied to significantly reduce the environmental impact of manufacture.
For details of other organisations doing there bit to protect ocean habitats, check out our article on Marine Conservation.
Where To Buy An ECOBOARD
There are several established surfboard brands with ECOBOARD accreditation, including Channel Islands Surfing, Firewire Surfboards and Notox. Whether they manufacture on a large or small scale, you can find details of every shaper that sports the ECOBOARD logo on Sustainable Surf’s website. We hope you find the right sustainable surfboard for you!
ECOBOARD Performance Vs Non-Green Surfboards
Yet there is another question still lingering. Can sustainable boards actually hold their own against surfboards manufactured from conventional materials? The answer in short is, yes! Materials such as recycled blanks, have been shown to have greater durability and better impermeability, therefore outperforming conventional blanks. Other alternative materials such as cork, seaweed or mushroom are not far behind in terms of benefit. Each material offering slightly different resistance qualities but critically, providing the same level of flexibility, a very important characteristic for surfboards that are constantly subjected to the torsion of the sea.
There is no disadvantage in the weight category either, with these alternative materials being even lighter than foams derived from virgin oil. Alternatives to traditional resins, that were typically one of the most toxic elements of surfboards, show positive results in terms of both performance and environmental impact. As for sustainable surf accessories, we discovered recycled plastic plugs and fins that use Bio-sourced resin applied to a base made of recycled bamboo, wood or polyester. More and more sustainable surfing products, like grips, eco-friendly wax and leashes, are helping surfers to tame the waves while caring for the life underneath them.
The Shifting Tide Towards Sustainable Surfboards
People are becoming increasingly aware of of the impact they have on their environment and the sustainable surfboards, eco-friendly wetsuits and ocean friendly surf accessories and already out there. The tide is shifting towards choosing ethics and performance over boards that focus only on performance, and perhaps a celebrity endorsement.
At The Fair Cottage we like to let nature do the marketing pitch, encouraging more responsible and forward thinking consumption for our mutual benefit. We aim to feed collective consciousness through the sharing of knowledge and to support people in making choices that are aligned with their values. It might mean turning out your pockets a little further, but hey, what could be more gratifying than a surfboard that respects the environment on which it relies?
Do you know about a smart-material or environmental development that we don’t? We appeal to every rider, amateur or expert, who can help grow the The Fair Cottage project and our conscious network with insights or info. Please leave your feedback in the comments section, on our instagram channel or write us an email.
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