Exciting stuff, but what does that mean for the planet’s resources and what actions can you take if you want to reduce your impact?
Today has never seen so many great shapers and board manufacturers creating beautiful boards. What’s really interesting is that, recently, there has emerged a whole new sector in the board market - pioneers trying new materials to minimise the ecological impact of our beloved wave riding.
Typically most surfboards are made from two standard cores; Epoxy and Unsaturated Polyester Resin (UPR). In his academic paper ‘Surfboard Cradle-to-Grave Project’ Tobias Shultz looks at the carbon footprint of a standard board.
The conclusion was that the average UPR board amasses 110 KgCO2e and an average Epoxy board amasses 180 KgCO2e. Note these figures are not including Tobias lifetime repair and travel inputs
The ECOBOARD Project looked at the lifecycle study with Pure Strategies and came up with the following comparison. See the full article here
We would suggest that whether you purchase a new poly board or an eco board, there will still be a carbon footprint. We do recommend offsetting this and you can see our full offsetting article here.
If you are just flying through the article, then we would recommend, SeaTrees. They have a great website and compelling argument such as “mangrove trees can be 5X more effective than a rainforest at removing carbon from the atmosphere, while also providing nursery habitat for many ocean species, such as fish, turtles, birds, shellfish, and sharks.” Its a real feel-good factor for only a small % of your board cost. Grab their 10 SeeTrees for $10 here
There are some amazing projects happening right across the supply chain for Surfboards and we have highlighted some of our favourites.
Waste to waves - These guys are truly awesome. They take the waste EPS foam that your TV or other household goods came in, ship it back to their partner, Marko Foam, who grind and melt the EPS into raw foam bricks that can then be used to remake a raw surfboard blank. Currently, the project is only running in the US and you can ask your local shaper to request a blank from Marko foam.
The EcoBoard Project - Set up by the wonderful peeps at Sustainable Surf to set a standard for surfboard manufacture. In their own words:
“An ECOBOARD is a high-performance sustainable board. ECOBOARDS have the same technical performance attributes as any modern water-sport board, while having reduced environmental and toxic impacts – through the use of more sustainable materials and manufacturing processes.
When you see a board displaying the ECOBOARD Level One or Gold Level label we have verified that it has one or more of the following attributes:
A measurably reduced carbon footprint
Renewable, recycled and/or up-cycled material inputs
Uses materials and processes that reduce toxicity during manufacturing”
Mushroom Boards - The amazing guys at Ecovative design came up with the idea of making the surfboard cores from mushrooms. Their WHY is incredibly powerful. Essentially they “use mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, to grow materials that replace plastics and reduce animal slaughter”. Initially, they started making packaging(as a side note, we would implore any surfboard manufacturer to look at how they could use Ecovative design for their packaging) now they produce products from textiles to light fittings. In 2015 they embarked on making surfboard cores. The project has been going for some time and you can now approach Ecovative to either get your own grow kit or get in contact with Surfo who are using the technology to produce boards.
Wooden surfboards - There are numerous wooden surfboard manufacturers. If the wood can be sourced locally to the shaper, and from a sustainable crop, this has to be a great option. We cover two of our favourites in the top eco boards out later this month.
Resin - Current surfboard manufacturers typically utilise petroleum-based epoxy resins and catalysts. However, there have been bio-resins available for decades. Bio resin is essentially epoxy resins that are derived entirely or partly from plant sources. Entrophy are leading the way and are used by many of the sustainably minded surfboard manufacturers.
Laminates - traditionally surfboards are covered with fibreglass, some have been covered in carbon and you can get blow moulded boards too. Fibreglass and petroleum-based epoxy resin have a high carbon footprint and the waste is highly toxic. It is exciting to see that manufacturers are trying out all sorts of new alternatives from bamboo to wool.