As a surfer, the ocean is your greatest respite. Not only does your time in the ocean bring you closer to nature, but it immerses you in a connection with the Earth’s most powerful elements. Millions of surfers from around the world head to the shores day in, day out, and it’s our duty to keep attuned to the cleanliness of the waters. You might not know it, but many of the products that are used for surfing are not always environmentally friendly, and can have detrimental impacts. We’ve compiled a guide on the 4 ways to be an eco-friendly surfer, so you can ensure you’re protecting the oceans both in and out of the waves.
1. Consider the environmental impacts of your board
That much loved surfboard of yours is not particularly beneficial to the environment. Firstly, its materials consist of fibreglass, which has been laminated with polyester resin over polyurethane foam. This means that the board is full of potentially dangerous chemicals such as styrene, isocyanates and VOCS (volatile organic compounds). Not only this, but a typical modern surfboard is now made using mostly petroleum products and chemicals. As such, the boards leave a larger carbon footprint and are then, by definition – ‘unsustainable.’ Sadly, not only this but when your surfboard can no longer be used, it will end up in the landfill decomposing over millions of years.
So, what can you do?
Being conscious about what board you decide to buy is the first step. The ECO BOARD Project was launched back in 2012, with the aim of aiding the board-riding community to become accessible to high performance sustainable boards. To make full ocean-friendly advances, there are other aspects that you should keep in mind. Ensuring your board is made from primarily renewable and sustainable materials such as wood is important, as is ensuring that the epoxy resin is at least 15% biological, low VOC content. Some environmentally conscious board sculptors even go as far as using non-toxic plant based materials, or even sugarcane biomass and excess waste packaging materials. There are certified ECOBOARD standards that you can ask your shaper to follow, or alternatively you can purchase a certified eco board from brands such as:
2. Think organic, up-cycle and recycle
Alternatively, like most man-made goods you can always opt to purchase a second hand board rather than a brand new one. By doing this, you are discouraging the mass production of new surfboards, which like any other product does have effects on the environment. Other ways you can think about up cycling or recycling is with your board’s accessories. There are a whole host of eco-friendly accessories available such as recycled deck pads and even cork pads. So, instead of using deck pads that have been made from harmful EVA plastic, you could be using one made from a cork tree (which even gets harvested 12 times in its lifetime). Additionally one of the other ways to be an eco-friendly surfer is to use recycled leashes, which have been made using old and unwanted plastic that would otherwise sit in the Earth. Eco-friendly alternatives don’t just end there either – you can also find eco-wax made from organic farm ingredients, as well as surfboard bags made from recycled billboards or hemp!
3. Ditch that car
It’s so easy to jump into the car, even if you’re only travelling on a short journey. Whenever you can, always try and swap a trip in the car for one on a bike as this will reduce your CO2 emissions. By attaching a surfboard rack to the side of your bike means you can take it anywhere. If you’re surfing further afield, why not buddy up with friends and share the car journey. This is another one of the simple ways to be an eco-friendly surfer. Below, we’ve listed a few websites where you can find good quality bike racks:
4. Say no to plastic
It has been said that we are now producing almost 300 million tonnes of plastic every year, and approximately 8 million pieces of plastic make their way into our oceans every single day. Ocean pollution is detrimental not only to us, but more so to the millions of marine creatures that inhabit in the ocean. As ocean lovers, it is in our interest to stop this from continuing. You can get involved in beach clean ups all over the world, from Indonesia to Australia and to Cornwall. Whilst the effects of plastic have been recognised in a majority of countries, there are still many cultures that have not been educated on the matter.
Whether you’re at home or on holiday, gather as many people as you can for a beach clean once a week or month (depending on the plastic pollution). You can also try and educate those around you as much as possible, letting them know of the negative environmental impacts of plastic. Another of the many ways to be an eco-friendly surfer is to pick up any plastic that you see littered on beaches and beyond, after your surf. Best yet, generally try and refuse plastic whenever possible. Over 500 million plastic bottles and 1 trillion plastic bags are currently used and wasted every year.
For more information on our oceans and plastic pollution, visit these sites:
So now you know the 4 ways to be an eco-friendly surfer..
By making these small changes to your life, both in and out of the water, you will be beneficially aiding the environment. It really is down to us to protect the many wave spots that we love, and to give back to the very waters and beaches that are sadly facing danger.