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The Green Life: Green Surfing: Eco-friendly Surfboards

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June 18, 2012

Green Surfing: Eco-friendly Surfboards

Sierra Green SurfboardIn celebration of June 20th's International Surfing Day, we'll show you how to feel less guilty about hitting the waves (even if you're skipping class or work to do so).

Tip #1: Get a new eco-friendly board (or just buy used).

Surfboards are probably the least eco-friendly part of the sport, considering that their polyurethane foam cores, fiberglass wrapping and polyester or epoxy coatings are toxic and petroleum-based, and manufacturing new boards is generally energy-intensive.

But there's a new wave of shapers making durable, high-performance boards that are also greener.

Some use recycled styrofoam with organic hemp glassing fabric and resin made of wood pulp and vegetable oil. Others integrate sustainable materials like bamboo in their boards' wrapping, stringers and fins. And others are entirely made of sustainable woods — whether hollow balsa blanks sealed with hemp or cotton or whether traditional alaias (plank boards made of koa or paulownia, which don't require sealants).

To help buyers out, California-based non-profit Sustainable Surf has created "ECOBOARD" certification labels for boards whose resin is made of at least 25 percent biological content and whose foam is made of at least 25 percent recycled material or biological content, or, if not foam, an alternative made of at least 75 percent renewable materials.  

These alternatives have matching price tags (like, two to three times as much as a normal board), so for green-minded and budget-conscious surfers, consider secondhand boards sold on Craigslist or at your local surf shop.

See what activist surfer Kyle Thiermann has to say on Explore!

--Image from iStock / Ronald Manera

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