Most surfers spend a lot of time in the water and will need a lot of boards over the years. Boards break. Boards get dinged. We outgrow our boards and need to replace them. Most surfers love board shopping. We all love the feel of walking out of a surfshop with a brand new board under our arms and the excitement of taking your new board out for the first time.
But most surfers love the ocean too. Well. I guess that’s why most of us started surfing. As surfers we are closer to nature than most people. A lot of us would consider themselves pretty aware and more conscious of their environment than the average person…(well the surfies amongst my friends anyway…)
I hate to break the bad news though, the toys – our boards – we use to play in our beloved waves are in fact pretty bad for the environment. Toxic chemicals are required to produce the foam that forms the basis of most boards. Without going into too much detail of chemical compounds and toxic emissions needed to make surfboards…What you need to know: the shiny new surfboard you are about to buy = not good for environment = not good for ocean.
Ok, so what can we as surfers do to minimise the impact through our choice of craft? Easiest way to do that is avoiding buying new boards altogether. Maybe try the following instead…
Second hand board
A new board should really be your last option. Not only will your bank account thank you but also the environment – before you fork out $800 bucks for a new board, maybe check out the used board section of your surfshop. I’ve made a great deal the other day and got an amazing used board for about $300 bucks. Who wants to take a brand new board out in Bondi anyway.
You need a board for your 2 week holiday in Bali…Your small wave board really does not cut it there. But does a 2 week holiday justify a new board? How about lending a board from your mate instead? In turn you may give him a go on your longboard while you are in Bali… a bit of board share goes a long way.
Make the most out of your existing board
Do you really need another one already? Does yours make it maybe for another season? We all love the feel of a new board under our arms but really…you are not a pro-surfer, one more ding is not going to affect your morning surf. A good clean and a new layer of wax sometimes does wonders…
Ok, now you are saying, your old board is falling apart, your mates only have shit boards and none of the second hand boards is really your cup of tea. Now I don’t want to be a party pooper, I know as well as any surfer that from time to time, you just want a new board.
Fine. But at least consider a few things before you do so…
If you do buy a new board I would steer clear of Chinese or Thai boards. Factories that are producing PU foam must comply with quite strict environmental regulations because of the toxic emissions. However, go figure how well monitored the production of cheap Chinese and Thai boards are that are currently swamping the Australian market and are cheap as chips…
There are epoxy boards like the Firewires for example that are the lesser of plastic evils. Their production produces significantly less fumes than traditional foam boards. In terms of performance they probably get as close as it gets to the feel of the boards we are used to.
Even better though, why not trying a more sustainable local shaper? There are more and more shapers recognising the need for more sustainable surfboards. Some of them experiment with bio-based plastics (e.g. made out of hemp oil). Others are using a mix of natural and recycled materials or go back to wooden boards altogether. Check out their sites, they are beautiful boards:
Whilst still far from mainstream the industry slowly seems to get around the need for cleaner surfboards and it’s good to see more and more shapers experimenting with alternative materials.The problem with alternative boards in general is that they are more expensive and have quite a different feel to your traditional board. They do tend to last much longer though.
If I was a shaper especially one of the bigger brands, I would put my eggs into that basket. Consumers are not stupid. My bet is whoever cracks the market first in terms of cleaner surfboards that match the performance of current models at a competitive price, is going to be a winner…
In the meantime I will try to stick to second hand sticks … and maybe check out Dave’s board from the Treehouse if the urge for a brand new board overcomes me after all.
Good luck with finding a board that’s not only good for you but good for our ocean. Happy oceanfriendly board shopping.
PS: Oh before I forget, a bit of a no brainer but don’t throw old boards out but
– take them back to a surf shop and trade them in
– make some dough and sell them at a garage sale, ebay or gumtree
– or take them to Indo. You make some kiddies very happy and they’ll use them until they literally fall apart.