The sport of surfing started out eco-friendly as the Hawaiians used wooden boards made from ulu, koa and willi-willi trees. Clearly with the limited demand nature could sustainably produce the trees required to make the boards without any issues.
Fast forward to today and surfboards are anything but eco-friendly, which seems contrary to the ethos of most surfers, as the sport takes place immersed in nature one would think surfers would be the ones most concerned with their ocean playground, but that hasn't been the case. So how did we go from eco-friendly boards made in balance and harmony with nature to the boards made from oil based foam and cancer causing resins?
One word: Performance. The truth is we sacrificed performance for any thoughts of sustainability, and for most surfers growing up the past 40 years the thought of sustainability never crossed anyone's mind, and truthfully it barely registers today, it's all been about performance. However times they are a changing, we surfers now know the supply chain of surfboards is harming people and our natural world. Workers in the surf industry using polyester resins over decades have suffered many negative health affects from their exposure to the cancer causing VOC's contained in the polyester resins.
And the polyurethane foam blanks that have been the core of the majority of boards, while not causing negative health affects to people, simply end their life in land fills. Millions of boards made from toxic materials ending their lives in land fills seems a far cry from the eco-friendly roots of our treasured sport. And it seems like something we can change.
Clearly going back to wooden surfboards is not an option, although companies like Grain Surfboards have made a name for themsleves with "maker" types that enjoy taking on projects, wooden boards are not going to be the answer for the majority of surfers. And while a few shapers messed with other types of sustainable materials over the years, the niche industry has been fragmented. Enter Sustainable Surf, an organization dedicated to be the catalyst that transforms surf culture into a powerful force for protecting the ocean playground, and the drivers behind moving the surfboard making industry towards sustainabilty.
Part of the catalyzation mission the founders Kevin and Michael had with Sustainble Surf was to help create a standard or benchmark for a sustainable surfboard, and to set up a certification process so consumers could know if a surfboard manufacturer had taken the steps to create a more eco-friendly surfboard. And this is how the Eco-Board Project was created.
As eco-minded surfers we founders of PuraKai Surfboards wanted to be a part of the move toward sustainable surfboard manufacturing, one because we care about how our manufacturing processes affect the natural world and oceans, but more importantly we spend our days working 10+ hours building surfboards in our own facility, eliminating cancer causing VOC's in our own facility is personal.
And look we know this sustainability talk isn't for everyone, however whether or not you believe in incrementally lowering the carbon footprint of a surfboard by using plant based resins, there's no disputing removing cancer causing VOC's from a work environment is very beneficial to the health of the workers, so if for no other reason please consider foregoing a surfboard made with polyester resin for the benefit of the workers.
So where are we now? We now make all of our surfboards from EPS foam cores that are made from 25% recycled content which is 100% recyclable and we exclusively use bio-based resin with 28% plant based content. We've embraced Sustainable Surf's Eco-Board Project and so every board we make is certified sustainable and carries a unique serial number. We've created a database to track the serial numbers of the boards we've made and hopefully as they end their lives getting buckled, creased and broken across the reefs and beach breaks around the world we'll be able to get them back and turn them into new surfboards.
If you have any questions feel free to give us a call. You can talk directly with shaper Jose Sarinana and glasser Joe Mercado, just give us a call or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.