It’s all about choices. We make choices every day which have an impact on the environment. What we eat and where we buy our food from, how we get to work, what kind of housing we choose and so on. The same is true when we come to buy materials for surfing. That new wetsuit you bought, chances are petrochemicals have been used to manufacture it, not to mention the effort in actually getting it to your store or home from its original place of manufacture. The same is true for surfboards, all the foam, resins, catalysts and fibreglass used in the process is not exactly helping the environment.
So, what can do to lessen the impact our purchases have on the environment. Simple. We need to start making the right choices. Great strides have been made in recent years to come up with ways of making surfing equipment and apparel that has less of an impact on the environment. This might be things like petrochemical free wetsuits, or the move some surfboard shapers and brands have made to bio resins.
Brands like Patagonia have long been extolling the virtues of more sustainability in surfing. Kelly Slater’s Outerknown brand is also doing a lot in the apparel space when it comes to more environmentally friendly products. However, it seems that change is not widespread enough and still the behemoths of the surf industry do not have this at the forefront of their agenda. So, if they won’t change, it’s up to us the surfer to make better informed decisions.
The dissemination of information through the Internet has been revolutionary in driving the agenda for sustainability in surfing. Videos and articles have cropped up about how our oceans are being impacted by the use of plastics and how micro plastics, in particular, are destroying our marine life. This has prompted various grass roots movements and we are seeing more beach clean-ups as a result.
There’s also things we can change when we come to buy surfboards, for example. Some brands like Firewire have more environmentally friendly boards because they use bamboo construct. More shapers are also using bio resins and cutting out the use of toxic chemicals when they come to laminate the board. For example, many shapers are preferring to use alternatives to foam such as paulownia wood. This can be treated with natural oils for waterproofing the surfboard. More and more shapers are experimenting with different production techniques that are more environmentally friendly, this can only be seen as a good thing!
In summary, there’s many things you can do to help lessen the impact your purchases have. It’s just about making smart informed decisions to bring about change!