Updated: Feb 13
For me, surfing was the gateway drug to my nature addiction. It is the reason that so many other pieces of my life revolve around the ocean and the environment.
And for the most part, it is a pretty dang sustainable sport. All you really need (in desperate times) is a chunk of wood and a positive attitude.
But it's 2021. And people don't just want a chunk of wood, they want the best chunk of wood. And wax. And a nice leash. And maybe some fancy sunscreen. And they'll probably want a nice towel... you get the picture.
Whether you are just starting up or you are a seasoned pro, here are some swaps and practices that will make your surfing career as gentle on the Earth as a baby wave.
PURCHASE ECO-FRIENDLY WAX
Many main brand surf waxes are made up of paraffin which is a by-product of petroleum.
"By the time the surfing wax bar has reached commercial stores, it will contain additional toxic petrochemical by-products. Some of these are benzene and toluene, which have been determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as probable human carcinogens. Considering that about 95 percent of surfing waxes in the global market contain these petroleum by-products, this is very alarming" (The Inertia 2018).
These chemicals are not only damaging for humans but for ocean life as well.
Look for eco-friendly and organic surf waxes or make your own at home!
OPT FOR A USED BOARD
Just like in all other aspects of sustainable living, using what is already available is a great alternative. Used boards are not only climate-friendly, they are also cheaper.
Surfboards can get pretty pricey, so if you are just starting out, a used board is a solid financial choice. It's also a great way to figure out what you are looking for in a board so that when you are ready to invest, you know you are getting one that will really work for you.
If you are ready to buy new or custom-made, here is a list of some really cool brands that are keeping the Earth in mind. https://www.surfpreneurs.club/blog/eco-surfboards-brands
BIKE OR WALK TO THE BEACH
Photo Credit: Pacha Light
Spare yourself parking anxieties and ride your bike to the beach. You can purchase a surfboard rack for your bike to make for easy transportation.
WEAR CHEMICAL-FREE SUNSCREEN
Most surfers know the importance of wearing sunscreen to protect their skin. But how many know that the chemicals found in top-brand sunscreens are proven to damage coral reefs and local marine life? Surfers are often less than a feet feet above reefs which makes their sunscreen choices all the more impactful. Stock up on brands like SunBum.com who make ocean safe sunscreens that smell great!
PACK SNACKS & BRING UTENSILS
What is a good surf session if it doesn't end with burritos? Pack food-to-go in reusable containers or bring utensils and Tupperware just in case you make a quick stop on the way home.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Don't cut corners on the path to the beach, you might be trampling on valuable native species. Know whether or not your break is a reef or beach break. If you are surfing over a reef, paddle around shallow spots, careful not to ding your fin on the coral. Coral reefs are endangered and take years to grow.
SUPPORT SURF BRANDS THAT CARE
Photo Credit: Patagonia
There are a lot of brands out there that sell the ocean and outdoor lifestyle without follow through. They manufacture their clothes in unsustainable ways and then profit off of customers who believe their ocean-lover branding to mean that they are sourcing their products ethically. There are a lot of big brands out there who do the bare minimum for the environment while appearing to be advocates. Do some research and decide what companies you want to support. Patagonia is an example of a big company really pulling their weight and inspiring others to do the same.