6 sustainable surfboard alternatives

For those that are new to surfboard construction, boards are essentially made of a foam “blank” which is then carefully shaved down and sanded to the correct shape, and glassed with resin to create a hardened surface. Most foam blanks are almost entirely made from petrochemical products and resins, so shapers and glassers must wear masks to protect themselves from all of those chemicals… and that smell.

Efforts have been made to help improve this chemically-driven and environmentally-detrimental process, by switching up materials, creating bio-based alternatives, and recycling existing foam. Historically though, that’s meant compromised performance. But not anymore. Here are four sustainable surfboard options to get your hands on this summer:

An algae-based surfboard

Recently unveiled in San Diego, a sustainable algae-based surfboard blank was presented by Stephen Mayfield.

Mayfield, a professor of biology and algae geneticist at UC San Diego, and his team of undergraduate biology and chemistry students, mixed algae oil with other materials. The combination expanded into a foam-like substance that hardens into the polyurethane that forms a surfboard’s core. Though it is a green board, the algae oil is actually clear so it’s indistinguishable from any other board out there in the lineup.

“An algae-based surfboard perfectly fits with the community and our connection with the ocean and surfing,” said Mayfield.

Put a cork in it

sustainable surfboards
Photo: Lost Surfboards
Lost Surfboards and Matt Biolos have created a carbon-cork composite board with an exposed cork deck, so no fiberglass is needed and surfers don’t need to buy wax.

“We purchase our CoreCork from Amorim, an over 100 year old company…with a surfing CEO, who use protected Portuguese trees, that are never killed, but ‘harvested,’ like a Sheep’s wool, every 8 years.”

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Mushroom madness

sustainable surfboards
The first mushroom surfboard. Photo: SurfOboards.com
Verified by Sustainable Surf’s ECOBOARD Project, Surf O Boards uses Mycofoam to create their surfboards.

What is Mycofoam? It’s made of mushroom.

They’re currently trying to back their prototypes through crowd-funding. But if you’re hoping to get your hands on something before summer, Mushroom Materials has their own shroomy surf technology. Their kits allow you to “grow your own” surfboard blank cores and fins essentially out of mushrooms, or more specifically, “from agricultural byproducts and mushroom mycelium.”

A natural wood ‘log’

Italian-born Luca Bressen of Solo Surfboards creates his boards out of wood. They’re not exactly old school balsa creations, though. With more modern shapes, these boards are touted as bio-compatible and natural.

The combo

sustainable surfboards
Channel Islands uses E-Tech to glass their boards in an eco-friendly way. Photo: E-Tech
Trusted by both Lost and Channel Islands, Earth Technologies (E-Tech) is a surfboard and paddle factory that combines multiple sustainable, natural, and recycled components to their boards. They recently introduced a bio-based alternative to conventional fiberglass, and pride themselves on being the only manufacturers to use this “bio-glass”. Additionally, they use recycled EPS foam board blanks, Entropy Resins sap-based bio-resin instead of polyester resin, and bamboo decks or (patent pending) tail patches instead of carbon fiber.

Recycle, Reuse

The Waste to Waves Story from Sustainable Surf on Vimeo.

Waste to Waves, a recycling program sponsored by Sustainable Surf helps turn your “trash into slash.” In other words, they take the packaging from your new television and turn it into recycled foam core blanks.

Other companies, like Mark Foam, have also gotten into the recycling game. They create high-quality blanks from Envirofoam, a high grade, moldable material made of EPS “re-grind” (recycled surfboard foam). Like E-Tech, Marko has infiltrated the mainstream surf industry to become their go-to source for sustainable cores.

Interested in learning more about sustainable surf options? Check out SustainableSurf.org.

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