Sustainable Surfboards

10 Oct 2007 0 Share

We are nothing without nature and our craft.

We are nothing without nature and our craft.

By Sean Sullivan

Abstract

Taj flying at J-Bay on his firewire.

Taj flying at J-Bay on his firewire.

This study is an assessment of the current situation surrounding the creation, production and marketing of an environmentally friendly alternative to the modern polyurethane foam, fibreglass, and resin surfboard. The surfboard has evolved from the 100% recyclable, sustainable wooden board used by the Hawaiians into a toxic composite of polluting materials used by surfers around the globe. This study attempts to define the environmental impacts of the construction and usage of the common polyurethane foam, fibreglass and resin surfboard as the justification of the need for a sustainable alternative.

Crude but clean - a blast from the past – one of the original recyclable wooden boards used by the Hawaiians

Crude but clean - a blast from the past – one of the original recyclable wooden boards used by the Hawaiians

In order to assess the current situation regarding the creation, production and marketing of an environmentally friendly surfboard, surfers were surveyed and interviews were conducted with surfboard shapers and others involved in the surf industry. Those surveyed and interviewed were questioned on awareness of environmental issues, assessment of the market for an environmentally friendly alternative to the modern surfboard, and barriers and incentives to the creation, production and marketing of a sustainable surfboard.

As a tribe surely we should aspire to create some sustainable craft for our groms

As a tribe surely we should aspire to create some sustainable craft for our groms

The conclusions of the research indicate that there is only a generalized idea of the environmental effects of surfboard construction and although some surfers expressed an interest in a sustainable surfboard, this interest is not being articulated to the surf industry. As a result, despite some pockets of pro-active individuals and companies involved in the production of more eco-friendly alternative surfboards and materials, the surf industry as a whole is not currently involved in creating or producing a sustainable surfboard. Instead, the surfing community seems contented to accept the status quo. This report recommends a campaign that would promote awareness of the associated environmental impacts of surfboard construction as the necessary first step towards sustainability. What is needed to create an environmentally friendly alternative to the common surfboard is a collaborative effort involving surfers, shapers, foundation organizers and the surf industry as a whole to work together to address this issue.

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1.0 Introduction
Statement of Problem
Surfing Roots in Indigenous Hawaiian Culture
Surfboard Construction by Indigenous Hawaiians
From Hawaii to Australia: The Evolution of the Modern Surfboard
Duke Kahanamoku Brings Surfing to Australia
Surfboard Construction Timeline
How a Modern Surfboard is Made
Assessing the Problems of the Modern Surfboard
Impacts of Modern Surfboard Construction
Reasons for the Foam/ Glass/ Resin Surfboard Model
Current Alternative Technologies
1.9 Study Aims


2.0 Methodology
2.1 Literature Review
2.2 Interviews with Surf Industry
2.2.1 Categories
2.3 Surfer Survey
Qualifications
Location
Techniques
Analysis


3.0 Results
3.1 Surfer Survey Results
Awareness of Environmental Impacts
Age & Location Demographics
Market Assessment
Surf Industry Interviews and Correspondences
Awareness of Environmental Impacts
Market Assessment
Market Movers


4.0 Discussion
4.1 Awareness of Environmental Impacts
4.2 Market Assessment
4.3 Barriers to a Market Shift
4.4 Market Movers
4.5 Incentives to Change


5.0 Conclusions

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