5 inspiring initiatives making the surf eco-friendly

The surf world is often very concerned about protecting the oceans and about the impacts on the environment.
Cesar Alvarez
Cesar Alvarez


Surf nomad

Roaming the globe with a surfboard and a laptop, crafting digital stories that ride the wave of surfing culture.

The surf world is often very concerned about protecting the oceans and about the impacts on the environment. But we are all concerned… and the negative effects of toxic materials such as plastic are increasingly polluting the planet and we must find ways to react.

We went for inspiration from creators, associations and brands and we present in this article 5 great initiatives that want to make things happen. Some are concrete actions to reduce pollution and others are means of raising awareness. These practices must be encouraged so that we become aware of the real dangers for the oceans.

A surfboard made of cigarette butts! From waste to wave…

Yes, you read well, a surfer had the crazy idea to build a surfboard made of cigarette ends. And that’s actually a brilliant idea to increase awareness about ocean protection. Taylor Lane is an American creator and industrial designer involved in environmental issues.

He recently builds a surfboard out of 10 000 cigarette butts and all these buts were picked up during beach clean-up in California. Originally he made it for an international competition “Upcycle Contest” in 2017 (by the brand Vissla) and his creation became viral. Professional surfers have helped to share this creative initiative and media relayed the information.
Ocean pollution is a global issue and Taylor Lane wanted to create a real impact to raise awareness.

5600 billions of cigarettes are thrown every year and many of them on the beaches! A real concern because there is plastic in it. Taylor used several methods such as cutting or gluing and found a way to compress them and integrate them into a surfboard with a resin made from plants.  Check the result of his work in this video where you can see the board in action!


Corona builds waste wave for World Ocean Day

The World Ocean Day is celebrated on June 8th since 2002 and includes many events around the world. Famous brands such as Adidas already created partnerships with the eco-charity “Parley for the Oceans” to collaborate on projects and shape people’s mindset towards the fragility of our oceans.

Recently Corona has collaborated with Parley for the Oceans to build a “wave of wastes” presented in Melbourne on 8th June 2018. The enormous billboard creation weighs 1500 kg, which is the same amount of plastic waste that people throw every day in the ocean in Australia.  With its new campaign, Corona wants to show its commitment towards beach and ocean protection, breaking with the classic “paradise-world” image.

The public was invited to contribute to the sculpture of crashing wave by dropping their own plastic waste. Similar billboards were constructed in London (UK), Santiago (Chile), Bogotá (Colombia), Santo Domingo and Lima (Peru).

The next generation of 100% eco-friendly surfboards

Environmental impacts from surfboards are real! Some materials have a very high toxicity level and pollute water. For instance, the “neoprene” used in surf wetsuits is toxic and produce CO2. Regarding the surfboards, many of them are made from toxic foams, fiberglass, and synthetic resins. Even the surf wax, made from petrol, affects the environment and 6 million bags are used each year!

Some companies are starting to innovate new surf material taking into consideration the ocean protection issues and performance is not compromised.
Patagonia now stopped using neoprene in its wetsuits and replaced it with natural plant-based rubber (Yulex). It reduces by 70% the CO2 emissions while keeping the advantages of durability and heat.

NOTOX is a French company proposing a range of eco-friendly surfboards and skateboards. They use a maximum of sustainable materials such as recycled EPS (polystyrene), flax fabrics or bio-sourced epoxy resin. Another advantage of those boards is that you don’t even need wax because the cork offers a natural anti-slipping surface. Many surfers already tried those surfboards and declared that they are highly performant.

Vissla: the summer suit brand doing efforts to minimize the environmental impact

Mentioned earlier for their “Upcycle Contest” that gathers eco-creators, Vissla is committed to developing more respectful products (board shorts, combinations ...) using recycled materials (plastic bottle, coconut) but also to minimize the use of plastic by delivering its board shorts in recyclable polybags that can be reused during your purchases.

On their main website, we can see their philosophy “This is a surf-everything and ride-anything mentality.” They joined the Surfrider Foundation in 2015 to focus on clean water, coastal preservation, ocean protection and plastic pollution. As part of their program, they organize beach cleanups as well as creating ocean-friendly gardens and restaurants.

Vissla also supports the Waterman’s Weekend in order to raise funds for SIMA Environmental Fund (a non-profit foundation). “SIMA uses these funds to promote ecological and environmental organizations whose efforts are focused on enhancing the oceanic environment”.

Rise Above Plastics: one of the biggest challenge of the Surfrider Foundation

How to reduce the impacts of plastics in the seas and oceans? Here is the mission of “Rise Above Plastics”, a program from the Surfrider Foundation. They promote a list of 10 ways to help minimize our plastic footprint:

  1. Choose to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water.  Cloth bags and metal or glass reusable bottles are available locally at great prices.
  2. Refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other 'disposable' plastics.  Carry reusable utensils in your purse, backpack or car to use at bbq's, potlucks or take-out restaurants.
  3. Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag/box that includes a thermos.
  4. Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants that let you use them.  A great way to reduce lids, plastic cups and/or plastic-lined cups.
  5. Go digital!  No need for plastic CDs, DVDs and jewel cases when you can buy your music and videos online.
  6. Seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on.
  7. Recycle.  If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics.  Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates.
  8. Volunteer at a beach cleanup.  
  9. Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans, and bottle recycling bills.
  10. Spread the word.  Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to Rise Above Plastics!

According to scientists, in 35 years, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean (in weight). The last example to highlight the phenomenon happened recently in Thailand where a whale died with 8 kg of plastic in the body… More than 80 plastic bags were found in the mammal's stomach, for a total of nearly 8 kg! These plastic bags simply prevented the mammal from feeding with other nutritious foods.