The recent Global Wave Conference in Santa Cruz was notable for lots of reasons. The near-total absence of the mainstream surf industry, for one. The sheer amount of brain power on display among scientists and activists working awfully hard to protect surf breaks and ocean health too, of course. Interesting advances in eco-friendly tech coming to our often toxic surf toys were also cool to see.
Fascinating, sustainably-minded technologies in both hard and soft surf goods (everything from foams and resins to waxes and wetsuit materials) have been introduced more and more frequently in the last decade or so, but it's never been particularly clear just how many people are adopting cleaner tech when it comes to surf equipment.
Michael Stewart, of Sustainable Surf, the company that's helped surfboard builders around the world figure out how to make boards in a less toxic, less disposable manner, gave a presentation at the conference that showed just how far these technologies have come in the marketplace.
Sustainable Surf's best known for the ECOBOARD program, started in 2011, a sort of verification assuring shapers have hit certain eco-friendly benchmarks when building boards.
In 2012, just 1,400 ECOBOARDS were produced worldwide. Last year 58,000 boards were produced. That's something like a four thousand percent increase in sustainably-made surfboards out there. A huge change, obviously.
And that's just boards verified by Sustainable Surf. Lots of eco-friendlier made boards are out there that aren't part of the program.
Lots of that growth comes from the fact that Firewire surfboards are part of the ECOBOARD program, but other huge manufacturers like Channel Islands, …Lost Surfboards, Haydenshapes, and Pukas, among tons of others, offer surfboards built to ECOBOARD standards.
The sustainably-made surfboard seems to finally be making significant inroads into the surf equipment game, if a four thousand percent change in sales says anything, that is.