How to make your carbon footprint in the sand just a little smaller.
Surfing isn’t exactly high in the sustainability stakes, but there are still of plenty of better options to make your surfing impact less on our planet.
We all need surfboards, but their manufacture comes with some heavy environmental issues. Fibreglass surfboards are made by covering polyester resin over polyurethane foam, which involves hazardous chemicals like styrene and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). Epoxy boards use expanded polystyrene foam glassed with standard epoxy resin, a less-toxic production process, but one that still comes with a heavy carbon footprint.
A good place to find alternatives to both process is the Ecoboard Project which has a list of manufacturers that make boards with primarily sustainable structure such as wood, blanks made of at least 40 per cent recycled or biological materials and epoxy resin with at least 15% biological, low VOC content. Notox is just one Aussie manufacturer who has signed up.
The other issue comes with the fact surfboards are unrecyclable meaning the majority ending up as landfill. If you go thicker and more durable, you might lose some performance, but you’ll have a board for longer, which given how much they suck for the environment is the best thing you can do.
From its petroleum dependency and the energy needed to make it, through to its non-biodegradability, nothing about neoprene is good environmentally speaking. Luckily plant-based alternatives are, if you pardon the pun, cropping up. Patagonia have developed a Yulex, a material that uses sustainably-certified plant-based rubber. Yamamoto say their limestone based neoprene lasts seven times longer than standard rubber, Elsewhere French brand Picture Organic use wetsuits that are made using chlorine-free rubber made primarily from corn. Vissla also have a eco range that uses a water-repellant body lining made from recycled bottles and a solvent-free, water-based lamination glue. Unfortunately these don’t come cheap. Again, lowering consumption might be key. By looking after your wetsuit and wearing it longer, you’ll be doing your bit. That means washing it after every surf, and yes, we are sorry, no more pissing in it. That might be the biggest sacrifice you’ll ever make for Mother Earth.
95% of surf wax found on the market today contain petrochemicals, not good when most wax either ends up in the ocean, in the sand, in land fill, or in the back of your car. However more organic options can be found such as Mantunas' local and organic wax line, Bubble Gum's Rob Machado inspired Organik series, Sticky Bumps Soy line and Bees Knees Surf Wax. These options include soy based wax, bees wax and other petroleum-free and biodegradable material.
Get a Grip
Most of surfing accessories, be it fins, leashes or deckgrip are usually made with unrecyclable plastics and toxic glues. However there are fins made from 100% recycled and 100% recyclable materials, deckgrip made from cork, recycled plastic leashes and sunglasses and even bamboo wax combs. The blog Surfnatur has a good list of the all these type of eco friendly accessories and worth a check. http://www.surfnatur.com/en/13-accesories
Australians purchased over 726 millions litres of water in 2015, creating 60,000 tons of greenhouse gases. Over 460,000 barrels of oil was used in their production and less than 40% of these bottles were recycled. Oh, and just to remind you, this is the stuff that comes out of the tap, for free. For ten bucks, you can buy a reusable water bottle, save yourself money and help the environment. FFS, it doesn’t get any easier than that.
Oxy Morons and Sunscreen
The chemicals found in most sunscreens, specifically the compound oxybenzone, has been found to be dangerous to wildlife and coral reefs. Aethic is one brand that uses none of the chemicals found harmful to reefs. However more and more organic options exist, but a few basic rules work. First up check the label and stay away creams that contain from oxybenzone and octinoxate. Also try to use creams that rub in rather than spray on.