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The Surf Culture: Green or Greenwash?

The Surf Culture: Green or Greenwash?
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According to the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association surfboard, skateboard and other hard good accessory sale numbers increased by 35% in 2010. Along with surf industry growth growth comes increased impact on the environment – from foam surfboards and oil-derived neoprene wetsuits to surf destination transportation. This graphic illustrates some of those environmental impacts.

Infographic from GreenSurfShop


Yet for all of those environmental impacts, a growing number of surfers, ocean enthusiasts, and industry professionals are creating companies, products, organizations, and communities that decrease the surfing community’s environmental footprint. One of my favorite companies is Grain Surfboards. The company is committed to building, promoting, and riding beautiful, hand-crafted, wood surfboards that have less impact on the environment.

I have been a member of the Surfrider Foundation since attending my first organized beach cleanup in 2005. Founded in 1984 by three Southern California surfers, the grassroots organization is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches. Surfrider members aren’t all surfers, but many of us have strong personal connections to the places where we play.

Surfrider Foundation member Jaimal Yogis, author of the book “Salt Water Buddha: A Surfer’s Quest to Find Zen on the Sea,” shared his story in this blog post. Excerpt:

By my third trip to Bali, I was starting to feel the guilt. Watching yet another set of condos go up right above Padang Padang, more plastics in the line-up, another 200 surf billboards spackled around Kuta, more drunken Balinese kids mimicking the styles they saw in surf mags, I started wondering: are surfers ruining one of the most beautiful islands on earth?

Jaimal is now a spokesperson for the nonprofit organization Surf For Life, founded in 2008 by Alex Fang. The organization’s mission is to channel the interest and energy of individual surfers into teams that travel internationally to various project sites where they serve as hands-on volunteers. The idea for the nonprofit WAVES for Development came about as a result of a 2004 surf trip to northern Peru. WAVES’ coastal community education and surf

voluntourism programs develop youth into healthy and empowered adults and transform travelers’ views of the world and themselves.

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Photo from glennharper via flickr

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8:04AM PST on Feb 2, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

10:49AM PST on Dec 13, 2011


9:51AM PST on Dec 13, 2011

That information seems a bit exaggerated if not some facts just completely misconstrued. There are safe waxes to use, and all of the surf board manufacturers I've asked do not just throw away huge piles of foam. It is used and reused until there are tiny pellets that are then RECYCLED. I live in a huge surfing community, not a single surfer I know isn't environmentally conscious and they almost all use 100% safe products. What is this anti-surfer initiative?

7:10AM PST on Dec 13, 2011


10:50AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

Claudette, your prayers are answered, BP respects God and our oceans and nature and does everything it can to keep it clean.

10:47AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

Oh I get it, the SURFERS are destroying the environment, not BIG BIZ. Hahahahahahaha

12:42AM PST on Dec 9, 2011

I pray everyone out on the oceans and seas will respect God and nature and do everything they can to keep it clean.

4:08PM PST on Dec 8, 2011

Thanks for the article...

6:16AM PST on Dec 8, 2011

I don't surf, but have a coworker that does. I am sharing with this him via Facebook. Thank you for posting.

6:08AM PST on Dec 8, 2011

We believe that if surfers were to always seek out high quality surfboards and maybe pay that little extra we can all help to eliminate some of this waste. It's not only about the types of materials you use but how you use them. A good quality surfboard should give you years of enjoyment and even then you should be able to pass it on the a new (learner) surfer when you're ready for a new one...
If your shaper stands by the quality of his product and uses best practices to manufacture that product lessening waste and environmental impact, you might have to pay a little more and wait a little longer for your board to be made but in the end you'll be happier, the environment will benefit as less boards will end up in landfill and your local shaper can survive another day...!!!

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