If you love the ocean, you probably have the planet’s best interests at heart too! None of us want to see our world decline due to the ever-increasing threat of climate change, and many of us are eager to do our part to ensure its preservation.
Like most industries, the surfing world has its fair share of challenges when it comes to sustainability. Neoprene and epoxy aren’t exactly known for their positive contribution to the welfare of the planet! And none of us are unfamiliar with the criticism aimed at the lack of sustainability within the clothing industry as a whole.
How is Neoprene Harmful
Either created with an oil base (requiring significant transportation and drilling) or from limestone, which again involves mining, neoprene comes from two unrenewable sources. Unfortunately, this means that the origins of wetsuits can’t be named as ‘environmentally friendly’.
Neoprene is also difficult to recycle. A wetsuit’s neoprene has around 15 different materials which are problematic to separate for recycling. However, more research is being developed, and many people choose to ‘down-cycle’ their old suit by creating some of the following items:
• Beer holders
• Yoga mats
• Laptop and phone cases
Time for Change
With increasing awareness and continually evolving technology over the past decade and more, both consumers and producers of surf equipment are slowly looking for and choosing sustainable options.
We take a look at some of the many manufacturers in the surf industry who have introduced more sustainable processes in the name of being eco-conscious and how as consumers, we can also play our part.
Sustainability in the Industry
By no means is the surf industry the most significant contributor to global warming, but it plays its part. The industry is majorly aware of this, and companies across the field want to improve their environmental impact and develop a more sustainable ethos as a brand.
Mentioned below are just a few brands and their projects and developments to create more sustainable products and ideologies. You may want to carry out your research on the environmental progress of your favourite brand; the results are promising!
ECOBOARD is a certification given to surfboard manufacturers who are devoted to decreasing their impact on the environment. Using the latest green-chemistry developments, recycled content and renewable materials, all the while providing high-quality boards.
Board brands may receive one of two awards:
• ECOBOARD Level One
• ECOBOARD Gold Level
If a board has one of these labels, they have one or more of the following characteristics:
• A detectable and reduced carbon footprint.
• Contributions of materials which are either recycled, renewable or up-cycled.
• Processes and materials with a decreased level of toxicity during production.
The O’Neill Blue collection is a continually developing movement by O’Neill. By 2021, a whopping 50% of its collection will derive from sustainable sources. The O’Neill Blue clothing line focuses on the sustainable use of cotton.
For their tech-wear, products are created with the use of recycled polyester and nylon to preserve non-renewable resources.
The O’Neill Blue collection also uses a material known as REPREVE. This material originates from recycled PET bottles which are woven into yarn after cleaning. REPREVE is featured in some clothing designs by Vissla, Quicksilver and Roxy too.
Xcel wetsuits are dedicated to creating environmentally conscious products where they can. A few of the wetsuit features include sealing with water-based glues and neoprene constructed from recycled limestone and polyester neoprene.
The use of Carbon Black (a fundamental component in neoprene) derived from scrap rubber tyres is reported to reduce C02 emissions for each suit by 200g.
Like all brands, their journey as an environmentally-aware brand is ever-evolving, and they strive to create more eco-conscious products.
Rip Curl Installation and Community Projects
Rip Curl works to help the environment, including providing financial contributions to installation projects. One of their contributions is with the Project New Caledonia. Rip Curl has donated $121,000 to help protect the reef through eco-mooring anchors.
Each year, Rip Curl are responsible for running the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, which is an entirely plastic-free event! They are dedicated to setting a good example of a healthy society, and a sustainable lifestyle for others to follow.
Ways You Can Reduce Your Impact
As important as change is from the top-down, change emerging from ‘below’ is just as significant. We as consumers must choose wisely when it comes to protecting the environment.
Below, we offer guidance on how you can do your part as an eco-conscious surfer.
Always Choose Quality
Here in the UK, there is no denying, if you are an avid surfer, wetsuits are essential. Choosing quality over a low value suit is the first step in more eco-conscious decisions. Wherever you can reduce unnecessary waste is a must for sustainability.
Cheap wetsuits don’t last very long and will no doubt need replacing. Reduce this by ensuring you are investing in high-quality products that you can rely on. It may seem like more money when initially purchasing them, but their durability will pay off over time - which is a benefit for your wallet too, not to mention a decision in favour of the environment!
Whatever you may be buying, whether it is a suit, surfboard, surfboard bag or accessories, make sure to do your research and look for reputable, high-quality brands!
Look After What You Have
Taking care of the items you already own is essential. A little bit of TLC can go a long way and prevent you from any unnecessary purchases and waste. Take the extra time to clean your wetsuit after each surf or to ding-repair your board to reinforce any weak areas.
Need some advice on looking after your suit? Take a look at our guide below!
The surf business has some way to go to becoming a sustainable industry, but hopefully, this blog has highlighted the continual developments being introduced and advanced across the industry.
What changes would you like to see presented by surfing companies? What choices do you make as a consumer in the benefit of the environment? Why not share your thoughts and ideas with the surfing community on our social media channels?
If you would like to know more about the sustainable choices you can make in day-to-day life, check out our blog below for more information!