Sugar cane Eco Surfboard
How can we use more sustainable resources to reduce the environmental impact of commercial surfboard production?
Since before I was born, my parents have run a family business that manufactures and retails surfboards. It's called Zak Surfboards, and we're located in Thornbury, with manufacturing taking place in factories in Preston and Torquay. Dad also teaches small groups of people how to build their own boards. As a teenager I started to work alongside my dad, on the commercial side of surfboard development. I questioned the toxic chemicals and waste that finds its way into land fill. I knew something needed to change and I wanted to bring some new ideas to the surfboard industry. Therefore, after careful planning and drafting designs, I proudly introduce the Eco Board. My Eco Surfboard uses materials that are more sustainable and less toxic to the environment. I am using a polyurethane surfboard blank which is blended with natural sugar cane fibre, with a flax seed and basalt cloth and a bio epoxy resin.
Through my six month IGNITE experience, I have planned, shaped, glassed and developed a more sustainable and Eco friendly board.
Traditional surfboards have been made using polyurethane blanks, fibreglass and polyester resins since the 1950's - chemicals that are toxic to the environment. 70% of surfers still choose the polyester construction over epoxy, for strength and durability. Over the past 10 years surfboard makers have been experimenting with Expanded Poly Styrene (EPS) foam cores and epoxy resins to make a lighter more flexible, more profitable board. EPS foam is the same foam used as packaging when you purchase a new TV. It is inexpensive to make and uses less petrochemical base products. Most surfboard imported from Asia are manufactured from EPS and epoxy materials, which is a cheaper but weaker construction.
The real question we need to ask ourselves is: Are willing to keep creating waste, emitting toxic gases and using our finite resources to produce surfboards. Worldwide, an average of over 400,000 surfboards are sold every year and over 1.4 billion dollars annually are spent on surfboards.
Surfing being a sport or activity which connects people to the ocean, its ironic to think that we are willing to disregard the environmental impact.