Since surfers are constantly immersed in the outdoors, it'd be logical to think that surfing is good for the environment right? Well, that isn't entirely true as many surfing products such as fiber glass boards along with wet suits can damage the environment. In fact, this billion dollar industry creates as many as 750,000 surfboards a year, which results in 220,000 tons of CO2e emissions. Also, most wet suits are made with neoprene, a non renewable synthetic rubber made with petroleum. Fortunately, many companies realize the importance of sustainability and have created environmentally friendly products. Some examples of Eco friendly products include Rareform surf bags, surf screen, bee knees surf wax and sustainable wet suits by Patagonia/Yulex.
Rareform is a company that uses old billboards and recycles them to create not only board bags, but also wallets, purses, backpacks and laptop cases. Rareform was founded by Alec and Aric Avedissian in 2012 with a mission to create high quality products that help the planet. The idea came to Alec when he was surfing in El Salvador and saw locals using old billboards as materials to build homes. Since the company is based in Los Angeles, there was no shortage of old billboards. Seeing this opportunity, he made connections with warehouses that would take these billboards, clean them and use the original designs. This company values originality and their products retain some of the original billboard logos. For example, some bags have logos from old paramount studios billboards.
This company has grown tremendously over the last 5 years. It has been featured on shark tank and has re-purposed 20,000 lbs of billboards monthly. Besides having Eco friendly products, this company takes it to another level by following the Patagonia pledge. This pledge states that 1% of gross profits will go towards the environment and as the name suggests, it was first implemented by outdoor company, Patagonia.
Surfing is a fun sport, but it carries many inherent risks such as drowning, wild life, crazy locals and most importantly, sun damage. The sun's UV rays can damage the skin, making sunscreen crucial. However, sunscreen can negatively impact the environment by destroying coral reefs. Most sunscreens have an ingredient called Oxybenzone, which causes coral to become bleached. This bleaching effect is fatal because it causes baby coral to encase themselves in their own skeleton. Unfortunately, 6,000 and 14,000 tonnes of these sunscreen lotions containing oxybenzone is found in coral reefs annually.
Luckily, one San Diegan decided to create a company that would provide high quality, Eco-friendly sunscreen, or surf screen. Surf screen was made by surfers for surfers and realizes the importance of creating a product that is good for skincare along with having a positive environmental impact. Surf Screen only uses raw, natural and organic materials to create their products, making their ingredient labels easy to understand. Surf Screen avoids using harmful chemicals found in common brands like Octyl salicyclate, para amino benzoic acid, oxybenzone, cinoxate, dioxybenzone, phenylbenzimidazole, homosalate, menthyl anthranilate, octocrylene, methoxycinnamate, and parabens. Most importantly, this company has followed FDA protocol by having these lotions FDA Static SPF Test and FDA Critical Wavelength Tested. If you want to learn the details of these processes, you can learn more here!
Bee Knees Surf Wax
Once you've got your board and your wet suit; it's time to hit the waves, right? Not exactly, as you will slip and slide without a proper wax job. Wax is imperative to have a good session and bad/no wax can hamper a fun time. However, wax can negatively impact the environment because of its chemical makeup. Traditional surf wax is created with petrochemicals, which aren't biodegradable and are toxic if digested. Thus, this wax poses a risk to wildlife that mistakenly consumes it.
Fortunately, Bee Knees surf wax realized this dilemma and decided to make a change. Today, Bee Knees surf wax is based in Australia, a great surfing destination, and creates biodegradable wax for affordable prices. Instead of using petrochemicals, Bees Knees uses soy for its wax base. In addition, all of the paper and wood wax containers are created from recycled materials.
Hevea rubber Wet suits by Patagonia/Yulex
Patagonia is one, if not the leading company with Eco friendly products. As mentioned earlier, Patagonia created an initiative to donate 1% of its profits to the environment and has inspired other companies to follow in its footsteps. This company's latest trendsetting sustainable product is the natural rubber wet suit. Since neoprene causes allergies along with high CO2 emissions, Patagonia decided to partner with Yulex, a natural wet suit manufacturer, to create positive change.
Unlike traditional wet suits made of neoprene, these wet suits are made with hevea rubber. Hevea rubber is sourced from Hevea brasiliensis trees native to the amazon region of South America. Once this rubber is tapped from the trees, Yulex takes the rubber and processes it to remove impurities. This process not only removes allergens in neoprene, but also significantly reduces carbon emissions. Yulex's processes use solar energy, which is the primary factor in reducing CO2 emissions by 80%.
These wet suits might be Eco friendly, but do they under perform traditional wet suits? Not quite, as hevea rubber and other natural materials are found in goods like medical gloves and airplane tires. These goods strongly impact society and require strong, yet flexible materials. Thus, natural rubber has proven itself to be stronger and more flexible than synthetic substitutes. These qualities easily transfer into creating a top notch wet suit that doesn't contribute to deforestation.
Surfing is a great sport and an awesome way to enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, many surfers are unaware of the damage that traditional equipment can do to their playground. Thus, it's crucial to be aware of a product's environmental impact to preserve natural resources. Luckily, new technology has enabled companies to create Eco friendly products like board bags, sunscreen, wax and wet suits to allow surfers to enjoy their craft guilt free. Rareform, Surf screen, Bee Knees surf wax, and Patagonia/Yulex stand out as companies that create high quality and Eco friendly products. What other companies create goods that positively impact the planet? Please tell us below!